Historical Records Taskforce

What is the Historical Records Taskforce?

The 1997 Bringing Them Home (BTH) Report of the National Inquiry into the Separation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children from their Families highlighted that access to individual and family Stolen Generations records was essential to locating and reunifying families.

Improved access to and better preservation of records relating to stolen children and separated families is a key part of The Healing Foundation’s Make Healing Happen initiative, which sets out a clear plan of action.

From this initiative, The Healing Foundation’s Historical Records Taskforce was established to further the original recommendations of the 1997 Bringing Them Home report and provide advice to government on ensuring better access to historical records.

The objective of the Stolen Generations Historical Records Taskforce is to promote healing for Stolen Generations survivors and descendants by collaborating to improve access to and management and preservation of Stolen Generations records. This involves:

  • Advocating for records processes and decision-making that are:
    • nationally consistent
    • trauma-aware and healing-informed
    • informed by national and international practice
  • Building sector capacity/capability and cross-sectoral partnerships
  • Promoting and problem solving in relation to particular types of records.

Final principles


  1. National consistency
    Access to Stolen Generations records will be handled consistently within and across jurisdictions, and procedures will be mutually recognised in order to streamline processing, reduce delays and avoid re-triggering trauma through retelling stories.
  2. Permissive access
    Every person has the right to receive all personal identifying information about himself or herself including information that is necessary to establish the identity of family members (for example, parent’s identifying details such as name, community of origin, date of birth). The preferred default decision in regard to accessing Stolen Generations records should be full release of records. Every person with proof of identity has the right to view and receive a full copy of all records relating to them. Every applicant has the right to receive all personal identifying information about them, including information that is necessary to establish the identity of family members(e.g. parent’s identifying details such as name, community of origin, date of birth). This is subject to relevant legislation.Application or processing fees or any other charges will be waived.Applicants will receive all relevant records within a 45-working day period from the date all access conditions are met, with any failure to comply subject to review and appeal.A person denied the right of access or having any other grievance concerning their information is entitled to seek a review and, if still dissatisfied, to appeal the decision or other matter free of charge.
  3. Trauma-aware and healing-informed access and release
    Every person has the right to receive information, both orally and in writing, at the time of application about locally available Indigenous and other appropriate support and assistance services. Every applicant will be advised of the nature and context of the information requested and the possibility of distress that may result from accessing their records. Applicants will be entitled to have their local Stolen Generations support network, e.g. service provider, counsellor or case manager, involved in the process of locating and releasing records. Training in trauma-aware and healing-informed access to records will be mandatory for all staff and managers.
  4. Acknowledgement of intergenerational trauma
    The same principles and practices apply to Stolen Generations descendants who are applying for family history records.

Accessing Records Support

Next steps for accessing records for Stolen Generations and their descendants can be challenging however the National Link Up program offers the following services to support this journey:

  • Researching family and personal records
  • Emotional support when accessing family and personal records
  • Finding family members
  • Assistance and support at family reunions
  • Support and counselling before, during and after family reunions.

There currently are organisations that may have the ability to support accessing records for Stolen Generations survivors and their descendants. Please view list below:

Link Up NSW Aboriginal Corporation

Link Up NT Aboriginal Corporation

Central Australian Aboriginal Congress Link Up Services

Link Up QLD

Link Up SA – Nunkuwarrin Yunti of South Australia Inc.

Stolen Link Up VIC

Link Up Western Australia – Yorgum Aboriginal Corporation

Link Up Western Australia – Kimberley Stolen Generations Aboriginal Corporation  

AIATSIS Family History Unit and Link Ups

The AIATSIS Family History Unit works closely with Link Ups to support Stolen Generations Survivors through their journey of accessing records, finding family, or find information about family history.

Principles for nationally consistent approaches to accessing records

The principles and actions that the Historical Records Taskforce is seeking to incorporate into a nationally consistent, trauma-aware and healing-informed approach to accessing Stolen Generations records and providing them to survivors and descendants.

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Make Healing Happen

The Make Healing Happen: it’s time to act report sets out a plan with recommendations to achieve real and lasting healing for Stolen Generations survivors, their families, and communities.

It was launched in conjunction with a new report by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare that estimates the number of Stolen Generations survivors has increased from 17,150 in 2014-15 to 33,600 in 2018-19.

Together, these reports signal the urgent need for policy responses from all Australian governments to assist the healing process for Stolen Generations survivors and descendants.


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Bringing Them Home report

On 26 May 1997, the landmark Bringing Them Home: Report of the National Inquiry into the Separation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children from Their Families report was tabled in Federal Parliament. It was the result of a national inquiry that investigated the forced removal of First Nations children from their families.

This marked a pivotal moment in the healing journey of many Stolen Generations survivors. It was the first time their stories were acknowledged in such a way. It was also the first time it was formally reported that what governments did to these children was inhumane and the impacts have been lifelong.

More than two decades on and many of the recommendations in the report have not yet been implemented. The Healing Foundation is working towards addressing the impacts of intergenerational trauma, and supporting the movement for intergenerational healing, by working in trauma-aware, healing-informed ways that strengthen cultural safety and connectedness.

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Closing the Gap Implementation Plan

The Commonwealth Closing the Gap Implementation Plan sets the foundation for government action over the coming decade. It provides an overview of existing actions that contribute to Closing the Gap, and new investments and areas of focus for future work. It is a whole-of-government plan, developed with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and the Coalition of Peaks.

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Coping with impacts of trauma

This resource provides guiding tips on coping with triggers and how to recognise your strength and resilience in coping with trauma. The resource has undergone consultation and development with both Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander psychologists, internal Healing Foundation staff and external Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander redress support services.

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Map of Stolen Generations Institutions

This interactive map documents locations of institutions, reserves, and missions that Stolen Generations children were known or thought to have been forcibly removed to.



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