Policy of integration left Aborigines isolated
* Joel Gibson Indigenous Affairs Reporter
* SMH February 13, 2009
A YEAR after Parliament apologised for removing indigenous children to integrate them into white society, new research has shown what many suspected – the policy had the opposite effect.
Many members of the stolen generations have reconnected with their indigenous culture but it has not saved them from suffering higher rates of arrest, poor health, risky alcohol consumption or unemployment, Curtin University Business School has found.
Associate professor Mike Dockery used data from the 2002 National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Survey to test whether indigenous Australians with an attachment to traditional culture fared better or worse in economic terms.
The statistics showed that culture and wellbeing were connected in most cases, leading to the conclusion that employment programs should not be pursued at the expense of culture.
But members of the stolen generations and their families bucked the trend. They were more likely to engage in cultural activities than others in their geographical area, possibly because they had “taken compensatory steps to re-engage in their culture”.
But according to the data their economic wellbeing was below that of other indigenous people living in similar circumstances today.