Footage of Beagle Bay Mission. Historical black-and-white footage of Aboriginal children. Daisy Howard tells us of her experience of being removed, and being robbed of the opportunity of having a strong relationship with her sister May. Summary by Romaine Moreton.
Stolen Generations is a documentary that humanises the inhumane practice of removing children from their families. 'Stolen generations’, a term coined by Peter Read, refers to the assimilation practice of the Australian Government throughout history designed to remove the physical and cultural presence of Indigenous peoples from Australian society and cultural consciousness, and was informed by sciences such as eugenics, which the film explains. It became a less acceptable way of dealing with the Aboriginal population after the Second World War.
Stolen Generations offers a solid theoretical foundation while providing an emotional insight into the consequence of the implementation of the policies, and the children who endured them. The destruction of the familial, cultural and social fabric of Indigenous communities as the intention of the Australian Government throughout the history of colonisation, is demystified by Johnson’s documentary. The befuddlement of the children, now adults, as they try to translate the experience of being removed, means that the intensity of the experience is still being processed by those caught up in the administration of child removal. These experiences are also well documented in the Bringing Them Home Report, that provides personal accounts of children removed, and the confusion into which they were condemned. Testimonies in Stolen Generations show that, isolated and alienated within a strange culture, Indigenous children subjected to the cruel policies of removal are still healing, and some were never able to reconnect with their birth families.
The three main characters in this film are Bob Randall, Daisy Howard, and Cleonie Quayle, who give different accounts of the same policy.Stolen Generations takes us through the history of social theory that eventually led to children being stolen, and Johnson’s instigation to find answers to her own questions which thankfully, provide questions for the wider audience.
A documentary using historical and interview footage to tell the story of three people removed as children from their families, who are now one of the many referred to as the Stolen Generations. The tapestry of life experiences is woven around the filmmaker’s own personal questions of identity, and an administration put in place with the sole purpose of annihilating Aboriginal peoples.
Notes by Romaine Moreton
This clip portrays the experiences of Daisy Howard, a member of the Stolen Generations who was taken from her family at the age of 2. The clip begins by showing archival black-and-white footage of Indigenous children at the Beagle Bay Mission in Western Australia lining up to go into a church. The clip then cuts to a modern scene of Daisy Howard and the film’s director, Darlene Johnson, walking into the same church. An interview with Howard and narration by the director are intercut with more archival footage shot at the Mission, including scenes of an Indigenous couple getting married. The clip concludes with scenes of Howard reunited with her sister May and other family members.
Education notes provided by The Learning Federation and Education Services Australia
This clip starts approximately 27 minutes into the documentary.
Archival black-and-white footage of Indigenous children at the Beagle Bay Mission in Western Australia shows them lining up to go into a church. Soft, haunting music accompanies the scene.
Daisy Howard and Darlene Johnson walk into the same church.
Daisy is interviewed. Her interview is intercut with more archival footage and photos of life on the mission and of Daisy at that time. The clip ends with modern-day footage of Daisy and her sister May.
Daisy Howard, a member of the Stolen Generations Church was part of our life on the mission, you know? We used to come to church every day. But when you’re small, you don’t really know. You don’t understand, really, like, what they were doing. So, you know, in a way, we was happy to come here. Getting on the truck and coming, you know, for a long drive somewhere but we didn’t know that that long drive was going to last for, you know, like this. We’d end up, you know – for a lifetime, really. What made it hard was that we had people controlling us all the time, telling us this and that and we didn’t really have our own mind to speak what we wanted to say. We had someone saying it for us or what, you know, but it wasn’t us speaking.
Darlene Johnson, filmmaker When Daisy was 16 she married a man who was also on the mission. Other stolen children were afraid of falling in love. Their Aboriginal names had been replaced with English names. They knew how easily that could end up marrying their own brother or sister. Some didn’t find out until it was too late. After many years on the mission, all of Daisy’s links with her family had been lost.
Daisy I really feel for May, you know. I know she’s my sister. I really love her. But it took so long for us to get together, like, that’s the first time yesterday, like, we ever talked properly. We never ever talked like that before. So in all those years, that’s what I was missing out on.