Bringing them home the ALSWA way

Tony Buti

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


On 26 May 1997,[1] after eighteen months of public and private hearings and submissions from Commonwealth, State and Territorial governments, churches, Aboriginal organisations, Aborigines who were separated from family and other interested parties, the report of the National Inquiry into the Separation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children from their Families (the ‘National Inquiry’), Bringing them home (the ‘National Inquiry Report’)[2] was tabled in the Commonwealth Parliament of Australia. The report, which has generated significant public, media and academic debate and criticism,[3] documents widespread and systematic racial discrimination and gross ill-treatment of Australian Aborigines[4] resulting from the perception of lawmakers and administrators that there was a need to resolve ‘the Aboriginal problem.’ One literary critic has described Bringing them home as the best book released in the winter of 1997.[5]Neither the release of Bringing them home, nor the commencement in 1995 of the National Inquiry,[6] should be considered as the starting point for the push for reparations[7] for Aboriginal people removed from their families under government policies. Aboriginal individuals and organisations have been active since at least the late 1980's in advocating for a national inquiry into removal policies and practices. [8]The aim of this paper is to exam the activities and strategies of the Aboriginal Legal Service of Western Australia (ALSWA) in relation to its calls for ‘action’ in relation to the Aboriginal childhood removal issues.[9] It then goes onto discuss the National Inquiry Report and the response from Governments to the Report’s recommendations. However, I commence with a brief summation of some other activism that preceded the National Inquiry.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)online - approx 5-20pp
JournaleLaw Journal
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2004


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