Peter Read has been a Visiting Research Fellow in the Department of History, Australian National University. He has worked extensively in the field of Australian Indigenous history and has researched and written on the significance of 'place' in the Australian identity. He has also edited several books, including Settlement : A History of Australian Indigenous Housing (2000), and has collected the oral histories of many Indigenous Australians.
The Lost Children : Thirteen Australians Taken from Their Aboriginal Families Tell of the Struggle to Find Their Natural Parents1989anthology oral history Thirteen Aboriginal authors tell of the struggle to find their natural parents. The book is divided into three sections: Growing Up; Homecomings; and Reflections. The oral histories are transcriptions of taped interviews with the contributors. The contributors describe their childhood memories and experiences of the lies, deceit and suffering under government policies. Their stories are first hand accounts of their removal and placement into institutions and white foster families, and the difficulties they encountered along the way. Some children were sent to church institutions that 'wanted to created an Aboriginal working class', while others were sent to foster families. All of the children in these stories suffered the trauma of separation and many children were treated harshly and were subject to abuse. In being removed, they lost their links to family and community, and were forced to forge new identities. In their agonising search to find their real families they are confronted with a variety of confusing issues such as lack of identity, government and bureaucratic red tape, loss of family members, and the breakdown of family ties and culture.