Dedication: This report is a tribute to the strength and struggles of many thousands of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people affected by forcible removal. We acknowledge the hardships they endured and the sacrifices they made. We remember and lament all the children who will never come home.
We dedicate this report with thanks and admiration to those who found the strength to tell their stories to the Inquiry and to the generations of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people separated from their families and communities.
'This article uses Lacanian psychoanalysis to look past the enormous contextual differences between the politically-motivated mass murders and consequent genocide of the Maya in Guatemala during the Civil War, and the frontier massacres in Australia during colonisation, to locate important commonalities. In Horacio Castellanos Moya’s 2004 novel Senselessness, it identifies a libidinal investment in a Maya and Latin American Other as the site of the excessive enjoyment that Lacan calls jouissance: a projection responsible for love, hate and all varieties of discrimination. It identifies a similar investment in an Aboriginal Other in Mark McKenna’s 2002 nonfiction book Looking for Blackfellas’ Point. Castellanos Moya creates a narrator whose intense libidinal investment in the Maya Other’s suffering reveals not only the limits of reconciliation in Guatemala, but also how libidinal investments in Latin America as a site of literary jouissance trap the region between magic and violence. McKenna unearths a local narrative of denial in which Aboriginal Australians are cast as villains; this points to an ambivalent national narrative where Aboriginal Australians are either victims or victimisers, but always exceptional. What connects Guatemala, Australia and the world is a collective responsibility for the production of Others – of and for whom violence is expected.' (Publication abstract)
'In 1997, the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission released Bringing Them Home, documenting historical practices of forced Indigenous child removal in devastating detail. The report was released into a fractious political environment in which historicised understandings of race were being heatedly debated. Responses to the report played out through the media as conservatives sought to reassert a traditional narrative of Australian history. The Howard Coalition government steadfastly refused to implement most recommendations of the report, including a formal national apology. The government’s stance, and its capacity to dominate the news cycle, almost immediately shifted public focus from the contents of the report to its reception. This reframing meant that, when a formal national apology was finally offered by the incoming Rudd Labor government in 2008, it offered closure not to 220 years of racial violence as was claimed, but to a 20-year acrimonious debate dominated by white elites. This process demonstrates the ways that, against the starkest evidence, institutional power can be leveraged to facilitate widespread forgetting of historical violence inflicted upon Indigenous peoples. Indigenous children in Australia continue to be removed from their families at heavily disproportionate rates.' (Publication abstract)
'From at least the early 1990s, when the Hawke Labor Government introduced reconciliation legislation into the Australian parliament, the concept of reconciliation has attracted criticism from both the political left and right. While some have complained of it as a predominantly white undertaking, others have seen it as a threat to the unity of the Australian nation-state. Following the election of John Howard in 1996, reconciliation met fierce resistance from the Federal Government itself, with Howard rejecting the recommendations of the 1997 Bringing Them Home report and refusing to apologise to Indigenous Australians for their ongoing sufferings at the hands of British colonialism. This is the political climate that provides the backdrop for the five novels, all written between 2002 and 2007, which Liliana Zavaglia examines in White Apology and Apologia: Australian Novels of Reconciliation (2016). In her book, Zavaglia deliberately chooses to focus exclusively on works by Anglo-Australian writers to examine how whiteness operates in contemporary Australia. Though she conceives of her primary texts as characteristic of a liberal whiteness that ‘worked to counter [the] political attempts [by the Liberal government] to silence the Indigenous rights and reconciliation movements’ (1), she argues that they, at the same time, articulate the ‘double movement of apology and apologia’ (3) typical of whiteness in Australia. Etymologically, ‘apology’ and ‘apologia’ are cognates of the Greek and Latin apologia, respectively. Despite their common roots, however, they differ significantly in terms of meaning, for while the first implies remorse, the latter, a later borrowing of the Latin form, indicates defence and justification. By identifying moments of both apology and apologia, Zavaglia suggests, the novels she discusses reveal the ‘discourse of liberal postcolonial whiteness [to be] a riven and conflicted site, driven in a hopeful quest to heal its relations with the other, even as its normative traces continue in the legacy bequeathed to it by its colonial foundations’ (21). What then follows is an elaborate investigation of this divided and disrupted nature of Australian whiteness, as it manifests itself in contemporary Anglo-Australian fiction.' (Publication abstract)
1. Refusing to be Silent
While the early 1990's saw the Mabo and Wik land rights decisions and the mid-1990s the release of the groundbreaking Bringing them Home Report, the years that followed have brought little of what might be termed 'progress' in terms of racial equality. The twelve years of the Howard government (1996-2007) must be mentioned within this context as it is from this period that the most virulent expressions of racism and social conservatism emerged. This was partly to do with the conservative policies of the coalition and partly to do with an increasingly volatile global political climate. Considerable damage was done to the intellectual and cultural life of Australia during this time. After the wave of optimism following Rudd's election and the apology to Indigenous Australians, there has been a disappointing lack of practical action...' (Introduction)
'This article argues that the sexualisation of childhood discourses have a distinct history in Australia. To advance this argument, I will explore the similarities between these discourses and discourses surrounding the iconic Australian “lost child”. In all of these discourses, a white child (here a symbol of White Australia’s future and past) becomes lost in an unforgiving and dangerous environment. This child is assumed to be asexual, though with the likelihood that they will mature into reproductive heterosexuality. This latter point will be illuminated in the final section of the article, which will focus specifically on the 2016 criticisms of the Safe Schools Coalition Australia. These criticisms are the most recent examples of anti-sexualisation discourses in Australia.' (Publication abstract)
'Since the middle of the twentieth century, the phenomenon of public apology has become increasingly prevalent and visible, enacted in contexts ranging from the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission to the Australian government’s apology to the Stolen Generation, to the iconic genuflection of Willy Brandt before the Warsaw Ghetto Monument. While research surrounding public apology (particularly in the context of work on trauma, memory and reconciliation) has also become increasing prevalent, literary representations of public apology remain under-researched. Works like J. M. Coetzee’s Disgrace (1999) and Gail Jones’ Sorry (2007) present something of a scholarly conundrum. In the final historical and cultural assessment of public apologies, how are imaginative representations of apologies to be understood? Do they participate in the apologising process, or do they simply describe it? What implications does a judgement either way hold for scholarship on the larger relations between art and civic life? This paper finds a way into some of these large questions by considering the specific case of Judith Wright and the forms of literary redress she made to Indigenous Australians. ' (Introduction)
'In the late 1980s Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians continued a set of conversations—conversations that had emerged during the bicentenary—about the need for proper recognition of Indigenous peoples by the state. These discussions focused on legal and political issues and took place alongside an increased interest from non-Indigenous people in thinking about ways of ending racism. In 1991 Reconciliation was posited by the federal parliament as the key state intervention to deal with these issues. This article traces the 35 years of reconciliation since the Council of Reconciliation Act was passed in 1991. It engages with questions asked by Tessa Morris-Suzuki (9) about who the parties are that are involved in the reconciliation process and what reconciliation would look like if it were achieved. This analysis draws on the historical sociological theory of the event to undertake this work. In this perspective events are ‘that relatively rare subclass of happenings that significantly transforms structures’ (Sewell cited in Clemens 541). Elisabeth Clemens, drawing on Marshall Sahlins’s work notes that some events ‘may be capable of disrupting established associations and oppositions’ (541). For example, the legislation that mandated a decade of reconciliation in Australia produced a situation where citizens thinking about Australian race relations had their cause legitimated in a new way.' (Introduction)
'The forced removal of Indigenous children has been a site of historical debate in Australia since the 1980s. This paper explores these debates and discusses the political nature of Australia’s national history, and the correlation between child removal and the legitimacy of the nation.' (Publication abstract)
In this essay Heiss demonstrates that stories, poetry, songs, plays and memoirs are 'living' evidence of truths otherwise untold or appropriated (Source: Introduction)