Learning about the Stolen Generations through movies

Imagine being snatched from your home and taken away from your family, friends and everything familiar to you. Sounds like a plot from a horror movie right? It is the true life inspiration behind the movie ‘Rabbit Proof Fence’ and has been an underlying storyline in several Australian movies. We’ve picked out the best movies to help you gain a better understanding of why our country observes National Sorry Day on May 26.

Government policies introduced in the late 1880s allowed Indigenous children to be forcibly removed from their homes without consent from their parents for 150 years. These children, now referred to as the ‘stolen generation’, were often used as servants or farm labour.

In 1997 a Bringing Them Home report which delved into the separation of children from their families revealed the extent and devestating effects on the children, their families and communities. The report proposed a number of recommendations including the establishment of ‘Sorry Day’. The first National Sorry Day took place a year later on May 26, 1998.

Today, National Sorry Day is commemorated by street marches, flag raising events, concerts, essay competitions for school children and morning teas, amongst other events. What are you doing this National Sorry Day? How about watching a few movies to give you insight into what the stolen generation experienced?

Rabbit-Proof Fence (2002)

It’s 1931 in Western Australia, and under the law, the government has the right to seize “half-caste” children from their Aboriginal mothers and send them thousands of miles away to be re-educated with the ultimate goal of transforming them into servants for white people. The government snatches 14-year-old Molly and her younger sister Daisy, along with their cousin, Grace. They hatch a plan to escape and follow the 3,000-kilometre rabbit-proof fence all the way home. The race is on. Can they make it home before being recaptured? This film is based on a true story.

The Sapphires (2012)

Australia’s answer to The Supremes is discovered in the outback town of Cummeraganja by an Irish alcoholic has-been musician while they are performing at a local pub. The group — Aboriginal sisters Gail, Cynthia and Julie and their cousin Kay (a casualty of the Stolen Generations) — are presented with an opportunity to head to Vietnam to entertain the American troops. The movie is heart-warming and provides big belly laughs. It is also based on a true story.

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Australia (2008)

Set between 1939 and 1942, an English aristocrat, Lady Sarah Ashley (Nicole Kidman), arrives in northern Australia where her husband has been running a cattle station. Shortly before her arrival, her husband is killed so it falls upon her to drive the cattle to Darwin if she wishes to save the station. Unable to do it alone, she hires a stockman — played by Hugh Jackman — to help. Of course things don’t go smoothly, with Lady Sarah captivated by Nullah (Brandon Walters), a young boy with an Aboriginal mother and white father, while also dealing with the threat of a Japanese attack on Darwin.

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