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Stolen Generations (2000)


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.

Curator’s notes

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.