It’s hard to fathom small children being picked up off their front yards and taken away from their homes out of the blue by police, and yet, that heartache used to be an all too awful reality for Aboriginal families in Australia. Yahoo Travel editor-in-chief Paula Froelich explores Australia's "Stolen Generation" in the latest episode of A Broad Abroad, an original Yahoo Travel web series. This time, she delves into the lives of an entire generation of Australian children who were taken from their families by authorities and sent to missionary school, never to see their parents and loved ones again — all because of their skin color.
“It was a whole generation of kids taken from their homes. Basically, You either had to be black or white. You couldn't be brown or in the middle,” Deanne Kenyon of Pudakul Aboriginal Tours tells Froelich, explaining that her grandfather was one of the many children separated from his family when he was just a year old as part of an effort to assimilate Aboriginal children who looked like they might have white ancestry into white society. It's estimated that between the 1860s and the 1970s, more than 50,000 children were "stolen".
Children with light skin were often adopted out to European families, while others were sent to Catholic missionary camps where they were were forced to stay until they were adults. There, they were taught how to speak English and "fit in" to white, Australian society.
Although these practices were (thankfully) outlawed in the 1970s (seriously, it was that recent), the damage for many of this "Stolen Generation" has been long-lasting. Because these children grew up without any lasting bonds, family ties, or a support system, they often suffer from homelessness, psychological repercussions, and addiction.
For the full heartbreaking story, see Froelich's video below: