The movie Rabbit Proof Fence directed by Hollywood based Australian director Phillip Noyce and released in 2002. The Screenplay of the movie is written by Christine Olsen on adaptation of Doris Pilkington’s book. Film is fiction based on fact, tells the real life story of three Aboriginal girls, Molly, Gracie, Daisy, who made 1500 miles nine weeks on food journey from Moore River Settlement to Jigalong. They fallowed the rabbit proof fence in order to return home to their mothers.
The policies portrayed in the movie and real life was given effect by the Australian government and known today in Australia as the Stolen Generations. Mixed race Aboriginal children were taken by force from their families. Some of those children were taken at birth, some at two years of age some in their childhood years. They were sent to foster families or raised in training schools, special purpose institutions to prepare them for lives as factory workers or domestic servants. Some parents know that where their children had been taken and could keep connection with them. In some cases they had no any ideal whither the children.
Doris Pilkington, Aboriginal name is Nugi Garimara, author of Fallow the Rabbit Proof. A Story her mother, Molly Crag, her aunt Daisy and their cousin Gracie, who were torn apart from their families and relocated. It is considered a powerful example of the maltreatment of aboriginal people by the Stolen Generation. Doris Pilkington and her younger sister Annabelle also were a member of the stolen generation. In Under the Wintamarra Tree she tells her own story at Moore River. Over twenty years later Molly Crag was reunited with a daughter Doris. Unfortunately with Annabelle didn’t go well. She denies her Aboriginal ancestry and two women never seen each other again. Doris Pilkington at age of 76 died from ovarian cancer.
The movie made more money in USA then it did in Australia and was advertised as “What if the government kidnapped your daughter? It happened every week in Australia from 1905 to 1971.”1 The tagline is referring to hundreds of half Aboriginal children who were taken from families away during the XX century. The written line caused a anger in Australia and Minister of State demanded an apologies from government. “They’re asking me to apologise for the poster?” the director shot back. “Maybe they could apologise to our Indigenous citizens.”2
A.O. Neville, played by Kenneth Branagh in the movie, amateur eugenicist , the chief protector of Aborigines for Western Australia. He was the brain child of “the breeding out of colour” and what has subsequently come to called “the policy of biological assimilation or absorption”.3 The biological base of the policy was the claim that, given the remote racial affinity between the Aborigine and the European, a program of controlled breeding out of the half cast was, quadroons and octoroons had every prospect in a matter of three or four or five generation all native characteristics of Australian Aborigine will be eradicated. The problem of our half castes will quickly be eliminated by the complete disappearance of the black race and the swift submergence of their progeny in the white”4, depicted as “unwanted third race” in the movie. As a legal guardian of every Aborigine in the Western Australia, he has a power to remove any half cast child from their families or give permission to marriage. “The bush natives have to be protected against themselves whether they like it or not. The sore spot requires the application of the surgeon’s knife for the good of the patient, and probably against the patient’s will “5 says Neville.
The first meeting in Australian history where key administrative of Aboriginal affairs gathered, was hold in the April of 1937 in Cranberry.6 In this meeting the link between half cast and removal was most clearly reviled. His words “Are we going to have a population of 1 million blacks in the Commonwealth, or are we going to merge them into our white community and eventually forget that there were any Aborigines in Australia?” He believed he was doing what was best for part-Aboriginal children and total absorption Aboriginal into the white.7
In movie is also mentioned about Sister Kate, Kate Clutterbuck, who closely worked with A.O.Neville. She established institution for light skinned “quarter cast” children in East Perth. Children who were “almost white’ were targeted for removal and brought to Sister Kate’s because they were thought to have the best chances of assimilating successfully into the European population.8
1 David, Fickling. “https://www.theguardian.com/culture/2002/oct/25/artsfeatures” 25 October 2002
3 Robert, Manne. “Stolen Generation” 1999
4 Robert, Manne. “Stolen Generation” 1999.
5 Zalums, E (Elmar) and Stafford. H. “A bibliography of Western Australian Royal Commissions, select committees of parliament and boards of inquiry, 1870-1979” 1980
6 Robert, Manne. “Stolen Generation” 1999
7 Robert, Manne. “Stolen Generation” 1999
8 J.Carter, History of the Removal of Aboriginal Children from their Families in Western Australia 1829 to 1972, 1996.