Taking The Children: Western Australia’s Stolen Generations

Australian Workers Film Guide


A confronting short documentary that reveals the cruel and unjust forced removal of Aboriginal children in Western Australia by authorities and the devastating multi-generational consequences for Aboriginal people. While the film is primarily focused on the stolen generations, there are references throughout to Aboriginal children being trained in missions and institutions to become domestic servants, labourers and rural workers, with many sent off to work from the age of 14 under the supervision of the Aborigines Department. In some cases, children were stolen by employers and forced to work.

The film details the forced removal of children as part of the colonisation process, which left Aboriginal parents without any rights whatsoever and powerless to stop the government and police taking away their children at any time. With resistance resulting in arrest, parents tried to hide their children or send them fleeing into the bush. The film shows how Aboriginal children with white fathers were especially targeted for removal in what is referred to as biological absorption and assimilation. Abuse of women and the abuse of children in missions is also recounted, as well as the negative affects of institutionalisation on the stolen generations.

While pressure from indigenous leaders and the 1974 Furnell Royal Commission into Aboriginal affairs in Western Australia brought about the end of forced removals, the long lasting psychological damage caused by breaking up families over several generations remains. And a lack of investment in Aboriginal communities, especially rural areas, perpetrates the tragedy with high rates of detention of Aboriginal children. The film combines an extensive array of historical photographs depicting Aboriginal people and communities with voiceover narration.

Special Notes/Achievements

Author: J Bird, 2023

Duration: 19 mins 32 secs

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Film Writer: Anna Haebich, Andrea Williams,

Film Key Cast: Michelle Torres – Narrator, Donald Smith - Narrator,

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Film Composer: Kerry Fletcher, David Milroy,

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