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Victoria - Glossary Term

Stolen Generations

  • Front cover of the Bringing them home report (1997)

    Front cover of the Bringing them home report (1997)

The Stolen Generations are Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who, when they were children, were taken away from their families and communities as the result of past government policies. Children were removed by governments, churches and welfare bodies to be brought up in institutions, fostered out or adopted by white families. The removal of Aboriginal children took place from the early days of British colonisation in Australia. It broke important cultural, spiritual and family ties and has left a lasting and intergenerational impact on the lives and wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.


Government policies concerning Aboriginal people were implemented under different laws in the different states and territories of Australia. These laws meant that the lives of Indigenous people were controlled by government: marriages, work, wages, housing, children and access to health care.

Records about the Stolen Generations and their families were kept by governments, as well as by churches and missions. But many records have been lost: fires, floods, poor recordkeeping and changes to government departments can make it very difficult to trace family connections.


Link-Up organisations around Australia provide family tracing and reunion services to members of the Stolen Generations, their families, and foster and adoptive families. These services include:

    - researching family and personal records
    - emotional support when accessing family and personal records
    - finding family members
    - assistance and support at family reunions
    - support and counselling before, during and after family reunion.

Link-Ups give priority to first generation members of the Stolen Generations who have directly experienced removal or separation from family and community, especially those who are elderly or have urgent health concerns.

Link-Ups also provide services to subsequent generations of family members who have been affected by intergenerational trauma related to removal, and to members of families and communities from whom children were removed.



  • VACCA: commemorating 25 years of service, Researched and written by Melissa Brickell, under the direction of Muriel Cadd, Chief Executive Officer, Victorian Aboriginal Child Care Agency, Preston, 2002. Details
  • Boyce, J., For the record : background information on the work of the Anglican Church with Aboriginal children and directory of Anglican agencies providing residential care to children from 1830 to 1980, Anglicare Australia, Melbourne, 2003. Details
  • Briskman, Linda, Home - still waiting: report of the Minajalku Aboriginal Corporation into Aboriginal children and the churches in Victoria, Researchers: Linda Briskman and Karen Mobourne, Minajalku Aboriginal Corporation, Thornbury, 1997. Details
  • Briskman, Linda, The black grapevine: Aboriginal activism and the stolen generations, The Federation Press, Sydney, 2003. Details
  • Deverall, Myrna; McFarlane, Ian, 'My heart is breaking': a joint guide to records about Aboriginal people in the Public Record Office of Victoria and the Australian Archives Victorian Regional Office, Australian Government Publishing Service, Canberra, 1993. Details
  • Dyer, Mollie, Room for one more: the life of Mollie Dyer, Aboriginal Affairs Victoria, East Melbourne, 2003. Details
  • Edwards, C and Read P, The lost children: thirteen Australians taken from their Aboriginal families tell of their struggle to find their natural parents, Doubleday, Sydney, 1989. Details
  • George, Karen, Finding your own way, Nunkuwarrin Yunti of South Australia Inc., 2005. Details
  • Haebich, A., Broken circles: fragmenting Indigenous families 1800-2000, Fremantle Arts Centre Press, 2000. Details
  • Mellor, Doreen and Anna Haebich, Many voices: reflections on experiences of Indigenous child separation, National Library of Australia, 2002. Details
  • Nelson, E., Swain, S. and Grimshaw, P., Letters from Aboriginal women of Victoria 1867-1926, History Department, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, 2002. Details
  • Peart, Vicki, Faded footprints: walking the past, Ballarat and District Aboriginal Cooperative, 2005. Details
  • Read, Peter, A rape of the soul so profound: the return of the Stolen Generations, Allen & Unwin, 1999. pp x-xi. Details
  • Vicenti, Heather; Dickman, Deborah, Too Many Tears: an autobioigraphical account of stolen generations, Meme Media, St Albans, 2008. Details

Conference Papers

  • Piggott, Michael and Sue McKemmish, 'Recordkeeping, Reconciliation and Political Reality', in Australian Society of Archivists Annual Conference, Sydney, August 2002, 2002. Details

Journal Articles

  • Briskman, Linda, 'Beyond apologies: the Stolen Generations and the churches', Children Australia, vol. 26, no. 3, 2001, pp. 4-8. Details


Online Resources


Front cover of the Bringing them home report (1997)
Front cover of the Bringing them home report (1997)


Sources used to compile this entry: 'Stolen Generations', in Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies [website],

Prepared by: Rebe Taylor