Qld Slaves and stolen children: ABC article

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Dec 1, 1999
AFL Club
Luckily we have Andrew Bolt to tell us the stolen generations never happened, hey?

My family’s reckoning
It was time to face the difficult truth about my family who lived on stolen land.

Despite that closeness, the family says Maria never spoke about being stolen from her own mother, about her early years working on the sheep stations, or about her culture, her language or her heritage.

"Never," says Loraine vehemently. "I knew nothing."

When pressed as to why, she offers: "I think she didn't want to draw attention to us in any way whatsoever. I think she was afraid that if she did, then they might come."

The government might come to steal the children, she feared, if she spoke to them in an Aboriginal language or spoke to them of her culture. So Maria hid that part of herself.

When her husband went to World War II, she'd also hide her youngest children in a cupboard if a stranger came to call.

Even so, she had to endure the loss of her son Johnny, sent to work on the stations at 14, just as she had been. His younger brother Ned recalls running behind the horse and cart, screaming and crying as he was taken away.

“They could take their children at any time. And they would not give you a reason,” she says.

“Even in the 1970s and ’80s, she was still scared. She was still scared up until the day she died.”
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Norm Smith Medallist
Nov 24, 2008
AFL Club
I'm bored at work, so I thought I'd do a bit of a fact check on HairyO's claim that there's been "court case after court case finding no evidence of stolen children". In summary, from what I found (and I should stress it wasn't an overly exhaustive search), that seems a pretty accurate statement in that nearly all court action relating to the stolen generation has failed.

Google search term: "stolen children court cases".

First result:

[1] https://www.heraldsun.com.au/blogs/...s/news-story/b78e059b128c0e61559740061e517499

This is the twentieth case in State, Federal and High Courts involving significant Stolen Generations claims, and the nineteenth to see the claims thrown out.
Ok ok, that is a blog by Bolt and HairyO specifically mentioned that it was not just Bolt that has made the claim.

These 3 seem more reputable to me, though tbh I have no idea who any of the authors are:

[2] https://law.unimelb.edu.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0003/1705728/32_2_2.pdf

Litigation for the so-called ‘Stolen Generations’ had been demonstrably unsuccessful until the recent case of Trevorrow v South Australia
[3] https://aiatsis.gov.au/sites/defaul...ns-litigation-stolen-generation-cases_0_2.pdf

The National Inquiry into the Separation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children from Their Families found that forcible removal breached a range of domestic laws and international human rights standards. Yet, despite this finding, court action by members of the Stolen Generations has been unsuccessful.
[4] http://classic.austlii.edu.au/au/journals/UTasLawRw/2011/2.html

This one is an entire paper, titled "The Stolen Generations in Court: Explaining the Lack of Widespread Successful Litigation by Members of the Stolen Generations"

So there seems to be evidence of HairyO's claim.

That said, an important quote from article 4 (bolding is mine for emphasis):

Cases are decided on the basis of evidence presented (or agreed to) by the parties. It is for the parties to present the evidence which supports their case. If a party does not present sufficient evidence to prove their case on balance, or effectively argue relevant issues in dispute, they will lose. This does not mean that the events alleged did not take place, although that is the legal effect of the court’s judgment.
I've not read all the articles above in full but from the little reading I did there are significant impediments to providing the required level of proof, best summed up in article 3:

The major limitations of the litigation process which we identify include the problem of overcoming statutory limitation periods, the difficulty of locating evidence, the emotional and psychological trauma experienced by claimants in the hostile environment of an adversarial court system, the enormous financial cost and time involved, the problem of establishing specific liability for harms that have been caused, and the problem of overcoming the judicial view that ‘standards of the time’ justified removal in the best interests of the child.
Article 4 also raised another good point regarding potential litigants:

Not all members of the Stolen Generations are potential litigants. Some have died. Some will be incapacitated by age, illness or disability. Others will be ignorant of their membership of the Stolen Generations. They may not know they were taken, or why, and may not suspect that they have Aboriginal heritage.
All in all, there have been many court cases finding no evidence of stolen children. But that isn't proof that it didn't occur.

Note: all these articles/papers are relatively old - I think the most recent was from 2013 (the Bolt one).

As an aside, I found it interesting that for the one successful case I found (Trevorrow v South Australia), article 1 had this to say:

It was Christmas 50 years ago when Joe Trevorrow left his hut of scrap iron and sacks on the Coorong to ask his neighbours - relatives of his partner, Thora - to drive his sick baby to Adelaide’s children’s hospital... Who knows what Thora’s relatives told the doctors, but the hospital’s notes say the baby, Bruce Trevorrow, was a “neglected child - without parents”, suffering from “malnutrition” and “infective diarrhoea“‘. The notes add: “The other two children are neglected. Mother has cleared out and father is boozing.” This is the baby that just two weeks later was given to an Adelaide family.. Unforgiveably, Joe and Thora were never asked for permission to give away their baby.
But again, Bolt, so...

Though it does fit with the idea that (from article 4, referrencing a different trial. Again, bolding is mine):

The High Court also rejected claims that the Ordinance was enacted for the purpose of genocide or was intended to destroy a racial group, but held on the contrary that it was beneficial in intent... Those people thought that they were acting in the best interests of the child. Subsequent events have shown that they were wrong.
Article 2 offers some level of proof that "they were wrong":

Bruce Trevorrow was almost an ‘ideal plaintiff’. The ‘authorities’ took baby Bruce Trevorrow from his family without their consent and placed him with a foster mother. His siblings remained with their parents. The circumstances provided an almost clinical setting in which the effect of family deprivation on Bruce’s achievements in life could be measured against those of his siblings. In effect, the siblings became the test control group. They fulfilled their potential; Bruce did not.

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Mar 3, 2005
Tombstone, AZ
AFL Club
Western Bulldogs
And that claim itself is a bit iffy.

Issues around witnesses, statute of limitations, excusing behaviour at the time and so on are not "no evidence of stolen children".
I think it is also important not to conflate the use of 'stolen' contextually or in common parlance with the legal definition

Narrowing discussion to what constitutes a specific crime under some statute is disingenuous and reductive when the goal is to discuss a set of events that are defined more by their sociological outcomes than their strict legality

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