FOR once I agree with the National Sorry Day Committee. Yes, let's teach children more about the "stolen generations". And teach more about this sorry committee, too.
Its complaint is that the new national history curriculum ordered by the Gillard Government insults indigenous people and should be rewritten.
Co-chair Helen Moran, billed by the ABC yesterday as "a survivor of the stolen generations", says children should be taught about the "stolen generations" from Year 3.
I agree that one lesson in the stolen generations story should be taught much earlier than it is now, in Year 10. It should be taught around the time children are taught the fable of the emperor's new clothes.
For a start, they should be taught that a co-patron of this same National Sorry Day Committee, Lowitja O'Donoghue, once claimed to have been stolen herself — then admitted her Irish father had in fact put her in an orphanage. Not stolen, but abandoned.
They should be taught that we have a National Sorry Day even though no one can name even 10 Aboriginal children stolen from their parents for racist reasons, yet this lack of victims hasn't stopped us from creating an industry of victimhood.
For example, the Stolen Generations Taskforce set up by the Bracks government in Victoria admitted there had been "no formal policy for removing children" from Aboriginal parents in the state.
It also failed to find one truly stolen child, even though it ran advertisements pleading for them to come forward. Yet it counted 36 organisations helping the state's "stolen generations", and on receiving the taskforce's report the Bracks government created one more — Stolen Generations Victoria, which blew its budget and was wound up after the auditors checked out its questionable spending.
Even Moran herself, now demanding more teaching on the "stolen generations", could become a classroom exhibit to show how loose the definition of "stolen" is.
She was taken from her white mother and Aboriginal father at just 18 months. But was she "stolen" for being part-Aboriginal, or was she rescued from neglect?
Here's how she once described her removal to the ABC:
We were told that we were fairly poor, that we were living in bad conditions, we were told that they weren't looking after us properly. We were told that Dad abandoned us all and Mum was left with six children. We were told that we were abandoned by both of them. So, you know, it was different stories at different times.
Here is how her adoptive mother, Merle Smith, remembers it:
"[Welfare authorities] never mentioned Aboriginality or anything. Just that the grandmother loved them but couldn't look after them and the reason they were in child care was their mother couldn't cope."
This is what children should be taught. The truth at last.