Stolen Motherhood

Stolen Motherhood

Aboriginal Mothers and Child Removal in the Stolen Generations Era

Anne Maree Payne


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The removal of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children from their families gained national attention in Australia following the Bringing Them Home Report in 1997. However, the voices of Indigenous parents were largely missing from the Report. The Inquiry attributed their lack of testimony to the impact of trauma and the silencing impact of parents’ overwhelming sense of guilt and despair; a submission by Link-Up NSW commented on Aboriginal mothers being “unwilling and unable to speak about the immense pain, grief and anguish that losing their children had caused them.”

This book explores what happened to Aboriginal mothers who had children removed and why they have overwhelmingly remained silent about their experiences. Identifying the structural barriers to Aboriginal mothering in the Stolen Generations era, the author examines how contemporary laws, policies and practices increased the likelihood of Aboriginal child removal and argues that negative perceptions of Aboriginal mothering underpinned removal processes, with tragic consequences. This book makes an important contribution to understanding the history of the Stolen Generations and highlights the importance of designing inclusive truth-telling processes that enable a diversity of perspectives to be shared.


Anne Maree Payne:

Anne Maree Payne works in the School of Communication at the University of Technology-Sydney.