• 20 years on, #BTH20 is about sharing the stories of Stolen Generations members, and this part of Australia’s history. (NITV News)Source: NITV News
Several people, including members of the Stolen Generation, have gathered at the Sydney Opera House to launch commemorations for the 20th anniversary of the Bringing Them Home Report.
Rangi Hirini

28 Apr 2017 - 1:04 PM  UPDATED 28 Apr 2017 - 3:12 PM

“Snatched from their mother's breast, said this is for the best, took them away.”

There wasn’t a dry eye in the room as Archie Roach sung the lyrics to his song, 'Took The Children Away'. 

May 26 2017 will mark two decades since the Bringing Them Home Report was published. In honor of a month long commemoration leading up to the anniversary, the Healing Foundation have announced new education kits they will be providing to schools and workplaces, facilitating a better understanding about the Stolen Generations.

“It corrected history books and told truth telling stories of systemic abuse and neglect over long periods of time." 

In 1997, the Bringing Them Home Report was tabled in Federal Parliament. This was the first time the Stolen Generations were brought to light to the broader non-Indigenous community.

It was a ground breaking 680 page report, detailing the trauma that so many Indigenous people experienced for over 70 years.

Kungarakan man, Professor Steve Larkin is from Darwin in the Northern Territory and is a Stolen Generations descendant. The Board Chair of Healing Foundation says the Bringing Them Home Report is a vital part of history and he aims to continue educating people about the past.

“It corrected history books and told truth telling stories of stestemic abuse and neglect over long periods of time," he said. 

“We’ve developed resource kits for schools and workplaces to get the conversation started and make sure people have the facts.” 

The resource kits will be given to students between Kindergarten and Year Nine, in 45 local communities across the nation.

An example of the education kits shows an activity proposed for Year Three students will require them to identity who the stolen generations are and how their history can be acknowledged. While Year Nine students will be ask to deconstruction one of the national commercials that will be rolled out a part of the Healing Foundations resource kits.

Legendary songwriter and Stolen Generations member, Uncle Archie Roach brought the crowd to tears, as he performed 'Took The Children Away' during the Bringing Them Home launch. He says the education kits should have been a part of the school curriculum a long time ago.

“Because you know its Australia, if they want to teach Australian history, which they do in school, they want to teach all of it. That includes the Stolen Generations, as well as other things they don't want to talk about... the good things they got to address as well, otherwise you don’t get the full story.”

Mr Larkin says several of the recommendations from the initial report were never fully implemented and the services that were introduced were often short term or adhoc.

“Many of the innovations introduced, with the best of intentions, lacked the right level of coordination, consultation and ongoing investment at the ground level," he said. 

“As a result, we haven’t written the wrongs of the past, to achieve a better future, we’ve made the problem far worse.” 

“Like a stone on a pond the impact of unresolved trauma has created a ripple effect for current and inter-current generations.” 

Archie Roach also agrees that it has been left up to the Indigenous community to unite and heal as a whole as they wait for the government.

“The government is so slow on really coming to the party and addressing the recommendation that the report has put forward.”

The Healing Foundation also shed light on new findings into the effects the stolen generation has had on the families from the survivors. The Stolen Generations and their children and grandchildren are 50% more likely to be charged by police, 30% less likely to be in good health, and 10% less likely to have a job.

Mr Larkin looked up at the crowd as he said these powerful words:

“Like a stone on a pond the impact of unresolved trauma has created a ripple effect for current and inter-current generations.” 

Some members of the Stolen Generations attended the launch at the Opera House, including Michael Welsh, a former Kinchella Boys resident, who broke down as he remembered how he and his brother were taken.

“I was 8 years old when they took me and my brother, Barry, away from our mother," he recalled.

“Later on at a platform in Central station they told us our brothers and sisters were gonna follow us on the next train. I knew that wasn’t true, but we were just little children what were to do?”

“They tried to break my spirit and take my soul. They tried to take away my Aboriginality.”

Mr Welsh spoke about the indescribable abuse he and other boys at the Kinchella Boys School faced.

“They tried to break my spirit and take my soul. They tried to take away my Aboriginality.”

He says he’s still on a journey of healing ever since the moment ‘they pushed me through the gates of hell’.

“There are many years I tried to kill the pain with alcohol and drugs, but my family feel the pain too. I have 8 children and each of them have been affected in some way,” Mr Welsh says.

Though it is hard for many to move on when there’s little recognition and understanding of the Stolen Generation, Mr Welsh says he hopes the 20th anniversary will help build a brighter future and stop the cycle of hate.

Mr Larkin also agrees that creating greater awareness in the boarder community is important in moving forward.

"Let’s address this unfinished business. We have already failed thousands of Stolen Generation members who have passed away, lost their chance to reconnect with family and heal their trauma. We've got to get this right for those who are still with us... For their sake, for the sake of their families and for every Australian."

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