Bessy Flower was born in 1943 and at the age of 19 months was
forcibly removed from her mother's arms in the South-West of
Western Australia. Bessy spent 14 years of her life at the
Annesfield native institution where she was refused correspondence
with her parents and suffered ongoing sexual abuse. Not to mention
malnutrition and humiliation.
In 1788, aboriginal children like Bessy were first taken from
their families and placed in missions and institutions.(OHP 2)
But, it was only after World War 2 that the number increased,
because of the introduction of the "Assimilation Policy".
Earlier this century, many white people believed that Aboriginies
were an inferior race. This belief was 'supported' by scientists
who thought that each race was at a different level of development
in an ongoing process of human evolution. In this "hierarchy of
races", Europeans were believed to be the most highly evolved,
followed by Asians.
At the bottom of the hierarchy were
Aborigines, the richness and complexity of their culture not yet
Change came with the 1937 national conference at which the
"Assimilation Policy" was adopted. The "Assimilation Policy" was
based on the belief that "full-blood" and "half-castes", needed to
be treated in different ways. Assimilation was directed towards
the needs of the half-castes. The policy was based on the
principle that it was better to ease half-castes into white
society than leave them in a social and cultural limbo.
The intentions of law-makers and administrators were usually
"humane" enough. They argued that the removal of children from
circumstances that offended white notions of family care gave
children the chance of success in the dominant society, especially
if they lost their sense of aboriginality. It was a legalised
abduction, which left horrific scars in almost every extended
It is estimated...