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Rabbit-Proof Fence

Rabbit-Proof FenceAustralia's Prime Minister John Howard and his government refuse to acknowledge any wrongdoing or present responsibility for 100,000 mixed-race children ripped from their families, enslaved and forced to deny their Aboriginal heritage.

Phillip Noyce's film Rabbit-Proof Fence has sparked a fresh row over Australia's treatment of the Aboriginal people and has laid bare to the world the horrific scheme to assimilate Aborigines spearheaded by the ironically titled ‘Chief Protector of Aborigines' A.O.NeYille.

The state-controlled eugenics programme known as the Aborigines Act forcibly removed more than 100,000 mixed-race children from their parents and remained operative until the 1970's. Over a period of 65 years, mixed-race children were removed from their communities and placed in white care. They were categorised according to their skin colour, the lighter they were the more intelligent they were thought to be. They would then be trained to become servants to white families and disown their Aboriginal families.

As they grew older they were forced to marry into white families in an effort to "breed" out their 'black' characteristics. The government believed that within a few generations of marriages to white individuals these, families would become 'white' again.

Known as 'the stolen generations', many never saw their parents or brothers or sisters ever again and to this day some are still being reunited with their long lost families.

The film is based on the novel Follow the Rabbit-Proof Fence by Aboriginal writer Doris Pilkington Nugi Garimara and is the story of her mother Molly's childhood. Set in the 1930’s it tells the story of Molly, her sister and her cousin who were taken from their mothers in the remote region of Jigalong and placed in the Moore River settlement as part of the government's Assimilation policy. Molly, however, had plans of her own and escaped the settlement, with her sister and cousin. Over a period of nine weeks they walked more than fifteen hundred miles back to Jigalong.

Phillip Noyce said 'We didn’t make the film as a political statement but other people have turned it into one, that's for sure. Wherever we go with this film, around Australia, around the world, they always ask is it really true that the Australian government won't apologise for this?' The answer is yes.

Doris Pilkington Nugi Garimara was awarded an Intermix Positive Achievement Award at the Day of Celebration of Mixed Race Achievement on October 19th 2003.

Click here for more on Doris Pilkington Nugi Garimara

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