Australia also had an eugenics program that was persued much longer than other counties. We do not knowthe full extent of the program. We do know that it was applied against the country's aboriginal population. Like the NAZI Lebensborn program, it was aimed at kidnapping children from their parents. Overtime Austrlians had began to notice half-caste children being raised by Aborignees. Almost always this meant children of white Austrlalian fathers being raised by Aborigenee mothers. Apparently some Austrlians were offended by the site of childrn who looked white being raised by Aborignenee mothers. As a result, laws were passed to give uthoitiess the legal right to removee these childrn from their mothers. Authorities believd that the Aboriginees would eventually die out and that it was desirable to breed the Aboriginal characteristics out of the Austrlian geen pool. This program continued until 1970. It has recently come to the public attetion by a book, The Rabbit Proof Fence wrtten by the daughtr of on of the children removed. The movie of the same title is lrgely factual.
Australia also had an eugenics program that was persued much longer than other counties. We do not knowthe full extent of the program. We do know that it was applied against the country's aboriginal population.
The Austrlian program had some similaritie with the NAZI Lebensorn Program. The NAZIs during World War II kidnapped children with prised racial caracteristics from th occupied ountries. The purose was to add Aryan racial blood to the German gene pool. This of course varied with the Australian prigram which was designed to bread Aboriginal characteristics out of the natinal genere pool.
Like the NAZI Lebensborn program, it was aimed at kidnapping children from their parents. Overtime Austrlians had began to notice half-caste children being raised by Aborignees. Almost always this meant children of white Austrlalian fathers being raised by Aborigenee mothers. Apparently some Austrlians were offended by the site of childrn who looked white being raised by Aborignenee mothers. As a result, laws were passed to give uthoitiess the legal right to removee these childrn from their mothers. Authorities believd that the Aboriginees would eventually die out and that it was desirable to breed the Aboriginal characteristics out of the Austrlian gene pool. This program continued until 1970. The program relevations have shocked many Australians because it was a viloation of perhaps the most fundamental family relationship, that between a mother and her child.
When European colonists arrived in Australia, they found a small Aboriginal population of a basically stone age people. There is evidence that of Aboriginal sttlement in australia as early as 60,000 years ago. The origin of these people has been disputed. aome believe that they were related to zsome of the earliest humans to migrate out of Africa. The population may one time been as high as 0.7-0.8 million. The term Aborigine was given to the native inhaitants by the early European settlers. The term "Aborigine" is derived from the Latin term meaning, "from the beginning". There are today about 250,000 Aborigines in Australia. This is about 1 percent of the Australian populations. There are increasing numbers of Australians of mixed ancestr. Muh of the countries Aboriginal population is concentrated in the states of Western Australia, Quensland, and South Australia.
By the turn of the 20 th century, govrnment officials began to note increasing numbers of half-caste chldren. Almost always thismeant the children of white men and Aboriginal women. This gnerally occurred in frontier areas here the Aborignes lived. Officials began to see the rising numbers of these children as a problem and discused how it should be addressed. The officials most concerned were called ironically Chief Protectors. his was a position somewhat like an Indian agnt in the United States. There job wa to look after the welfare of the Aboriganal people. One offical, the Western Australian Chief Protector Henry Pincip, wrote a report on the "problem" in which he claimed, "Each half-caste is a menace to the future moral saftey of the community." He wanted to remove the half-caste children from their parents, but did not have the legal authority to do so.
Western Australia in 1905 gave the government the authority to remove half-caste children from Aboriginal mothers. The other states passed similar laws.
James Isdell was the trveling Protector for the northern area of Western Australia began removing half-caste children from their parents. He caled the idea of the childrn being raised by Abriginal mothers a "great scandal". The government in 1909 gave him the authority to "collect all half-caste boys and girls". Thre were complaints about the removals that appeared in Australian newspapers at the time, often mentioning the grief experienced by the mothers. Isdell whose job was to protect Aborigines objected to these complaints, maintaining that the mothers did not feel any more grief than when puppies were rmoved from their mothers. He wrote, "I would not hesitate toseparate any half-caste from its aboriginal mother, no matter how rantic momentary grief might be. They soon forget their offspring"." [Manne, p. B4.] A.O. Neville was appointed Chief Protector in Wetern Australia. We was became perhaps the most influential Protector in Australia. (He is also the officia; portrayed by Kennrth Branagh in Rabbit Proof Fence.
There were differnces in the removal policies in the various states. Partlt because of Neville, the removal policy wa most aggrssively persued in estern Australia. The authorities tried to remove the children, especially the girls, at about age 6 years. No order by any court was required. The rmovals were executed by thge police on the basis of age and caste. Neville advised the police not to give prior notice so the childrn would not be hidden. Estimates suggest that during te period that this policy was in force, about 10 percent of Aboriginal children were taken away from their mothers. [Manne, p. B4.]
The children removed were sent to facilites locted far from their mothers. The institutions includd both Christian missions and various state facilitie. The mothers were not told where the chilfren were being takem. All contacts between the mothers and ther children was broken. Th children were not allow to communicate in any way with their mothers. Because of the age of the children, most soon lost all but the most distant memmories of their mothers.
One facility for the half-caste children was thr Moore Rivver Native settlement near Perth. There was a compound was fenced off for the children.
There were racial nspections, at least in Western Australia. The purpose was to select out children ith particularly light-colored skin who might be quarter-caste rather than half-caste children. Neville convined Sister Kate Clutterbuck to openn a home for quarter- caste children. She was working n a home for abandoned Aboriginal children. The quarter-caste chuldren at Sister Kate's home received a standard education. She sought to remove fom the children' any trace of their Aboriginal origins.
Neville was quite frank about what he was doing. Neville told a Perth reporter that h planned to turn blacks into rights in 3-4 generations. Many Australians at the time believed that tribal Aborignes were dieing out. Officials like Neville believed that if half-castes mated with "full blood" or half castes that a half-caste community would form. This he thought was a threat to social stability and the dream of a white Australia. Some suggested sterilization. More common was miscegenation. As Aborigines were such a small part of the Australian population, they would soon be diappear in a largely white gene pool. Neville in 1937 addresing a conference of Aborigial Administratoes said, "Are we going to have a population of 1million blacksin the Commonwealth, or are we going to mrge them into our white population and evntually orget that there were any Abirigenees in Australia. The conference accepted this approach as a national goal. Ater 1945, undoubtedly because of the NAZI taint on eugenics, the approached was called assimillation and references to eugenics ceased. [Manne, p. B4.]
It has recently come to the public attetion by a book, The Rabbit Proof Fence wrtten bythe daughtr of on of the children removed. The movie of the same title is lrgely factual. There are other films about Australian Aborignes. The Drover's Boy dealt with the 1920s when it was illegal for Aborignes and whites to marry. Another film, Walabout dealt with the relationship between teo white children and an Aborignee in the Outback.
I remember as a young tenager that my brother in the U.S. Navy mairried an Australian girl. She lived with us a few months in the early 1960s when the U.S. Civil Rights movement was reaching its peak. She was horrifed, as was I, at what we saw on television. She was very critical of America. I remember being impressed when she told me that such tings did not happen in Australia. She of course never mentioned the White Australia policy. I doubt if she even knew about the removal of half-caste Aboriginal children.
Manne, Robert. "A long trek to the north," Washington Post, February 2, 2003.
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