Timeline of Trauma and Healing in Australia

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Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children have been taken from their families since the start of colonisation in Australia. Children were stolen, taken for labour and removed from their families through government policies of the day.


This timeline looks at some of the events, trauma and healing that’s taken place in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities over the last two and a half centuries. The dates in this timeline are a selection representing the breadth of events that have occurred. This is not intended to be a complete list.
Archaeological evidence suggests that a rock shelter was used by people at a site in Arnhem Land, the earliest evidence of Aboriginal civilisation.
Mungo Man was buried in a shallow grave.
Captain James Cook declares possession of the east coast. The British Government does not recognise the rights of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and…
The First Fleet arrives and builds a settlement at Port Jackson in Sydney.
Small pox decimates the Aboriginal population of Botany Bay, Port Jackson and Broken Bay, spreading inland and along the coast.
Colonists begin farming on the Hawkesbury and Aboriginal people are disposed from their lands.
Frontier Wars begin in Parramatta and Hawkesbury regions.
The Female Orphan School opens in Sydney for girls aged two and above. Many of the girls were known to have at least one living…
Governor Macquarie opens a school for Aboriginal children in Parramatta.
The beginning of the Black Wars in Tasmania. Governor George Arthur orders Tasmanian settlers to create ‘the black line’ moving south in an attempt…
Battle of Pinjarra, on the Murray River in Western Australia, accounts suggest that an entire clan is decimated.
Committee of the British House of Commons reports genocide is happening in the colonies. The Doomadgee Mission is set up in Far North Queensland.
28 Aboriginal people, mostly women and children, are shot and killed at Myall Creek. This is first time white settlers were punished in a court…
Gippsland massacres take place for 10 years, with up to 1000 Aboriginal people killed.
New Norcia Mission is established in Western Australia.
Poonindie Mission is established by the Church of England near Port Lincoln in South Australia.
The Point McLeay Mission Station is set up, with dormitories for orphan Aboriginal children. Ebenezer Mission opens in Western Victoria. Children were regularly separated from…
The Hobart Girls Industrial School opens as the Hobart Town Female Refuge, for girls considered to be neglected.
The Corranderrk Children’s Asylum and Dormitory is established as part of the Coranderrk Aboriginal Reserve near Healesville. Ramahyuck Aboriginal Mission is set up in Gippsland.
The Ballarat District Orphan Asylum is established. It hosted thousands of ‘neglected’ children. It was later renamed Ballarat Orphanage and remained open until 1968.
150 Aboriginal people are killed resisting arrest in the Kimberley.
Victoria becomes the first state to pass a law to authorise child removal from Aboriginal parents. Similar policies and legislation are later adopted by other…
The first Aboriginal children are enrolled in public schools in New South Wales.
The Catholic Church establishes an Aboriginal mission at Mackay.
The Swan Boys’ Orphanage opens in Middle Swan. In 1942 the boys are joined by girls evacuated from the Perth Girls’ Orphanage during World War…
The Hermannsburg Mission is established.
Torres Strait Islands are annexed to Queensland.
The Royal Park Depot in Parkville, Victoria, is established as the sole reception centre for children committed to State care (The Depot operated as a…
The New South Wales Aborigines Protection Board is established to manage the lives of 9000 people.
Parramatta Girls Industrial School opens, accommodating around 160-200 girls at a time, many who had been charged with crimes or committed for welfare reasons. The…
Jandamarra, a resistance fighter in the Kimberley, declares war on Europeans and prevents settlement for six years.
Victoria’s Brunswick Girls’ Home is established by the Salvation Army.
Warangesda Dormitory is developed, on an Aborigines Protection Association station in New South Wales, to isolate girls and young women from other members of their…
Rockdale Babies Home is established by George Edward Ardill’s Society for Providing Homes for Neglected Children. It initially houses 50 infants.
Beagle Bay Mission, in Western Australia is set up for Aboriginal babies, children and young people.
The Aboriginal Protection and Restriction of the Sale of Opium Act was introduced in Queensland, allowing the removal of Aboriginal people from their land and…
The Aboriginal Girls Home opens in Brisbane’s West End as a government-run receiving depot for Aboriginal domestic servants from all over Queensland.
The Commonwealth of Australia is formed. Mapoon Mission Station in Far North Queensland is declared an industrial school.
Torres Strait Islanders become subject to the Queensland Aboriginal Protection Act. Their islands become reserves. St Mary’s Mission of Hope opens in Adelaide. During the…
The Aborigines Act is passed in Western Australia, making the ‘chief protector’ the legal guardian of Aboriginal children.
The Invalid and Old Age Pension Act is introduced, providing social security for all Australians except Aboriginal people. The Bomaderry Aboriginal Children’s Home opens near…
The Aborigines Protect Act is introduced in New South Wales, giving the Aborigines Protection Board power to take ‘neglected’ children from their families. Dulhi Gunyah…
Bathurst Island Mission is established in the Northern Territory by the Roman Catholic Church. Moola Bulla, a government-run station, opens near Wyndham in Western Australia.
South Australia and the Northern Territory create laws to remove Aboriginal people from their land and separate families. Cootamundra Domestic Training Home for Aboriginal Girls is established…
Maternity Allowance is introduced but does not include provisions for Aboriginal people.
The Church of England Girls’ Home opens in Carlingford, New South Wales. The Kahlin Compound is established in Darwin to segregate Aboriginal people from the…
The Bungalow is established by the local protector in an iron shed in the town of Stuart, now Alice Springs.
The Aborigines Protection Board in New South Wales is given powers to take children from their families without having to prove neglect. The Catherine Booth…
Goulburn Island Mission is established.
The Church of England Boys Home opens in Cronulla for boys aged six to eighteen. Yarra Bay House, at Phillip Bay, becomes the site of…
The Palm Island Aboriginal Settlement is set up in Queensland. The Moore River Native Settlement is established by the WA Government. The Salvation Army Boys’…
Milleewa Home for Boys is established by the Anglican Homes for Children Association. For six months during World War II a portion of the home houses…
Bidura, an historic house in Sydney, is acquired by the New South Wales Government to become a depot and receiving home for children while they…
Groote Eylandt Mission is established in the Northern Territory. Mount Margaret Mission is established in Western Australia, housing children and parents separately from around 1928.
Kinchela Training Home for Aboriginal Boys opens near Kempsey in New South Wales.
Myilly Point Home, also known as the Darwin Half-Caste Home, is established near the Kahlin Compound. It separates children from adults in the compound. The…
Between 11 and 30 people are massacred and their bodies burned in the East Kimberleys, in what becomes known as the Forrest River massacre. The…
Colebrook Home opens in Quorn, South Australia, as an institution for Aboriginal children. Woorabinda Aboriginal Reserve opens in Central Queensland.
More than 60 Aboriginal women, men and children are killed over several months and across a number of sites in the Central Desert during the…
William Cooper petitions the King to have an Aboriginal representative in Federal Parliament.
The East Perth Girls’ Home is set up by the Aborigines Department to train young women for domestic service. It later houses pregnant women from as…
The Arnhem Land Reserve is declared. Sister Kate’s Children’s Cottage Home is established in Perth to house ‘fair skinned’ Aboriginal children. It remains open until…
St Gabriel’s Babies’ Home is established by the Mission of St James and St John to accommodate babies up to 18 months of age.
The Australian Government convenes first ‘native welfare’ conference and states adopt assimilation policies for Aboriginal people. Umeewarra Mission Children’s Home opens as a school and…
Day of Mourning held in Sydney to mark the 150th anniversary of colonisation. Roelands Native Mission Farm is set up for Aboriginal families. By the…
The South Australian Aborigines Protection Board is established. 1939 Carrolup Native Settlement is reopened by the Department of Native Affairs and by 1944 houses 129 boys,…
The Aborigines Protection Board in New South Wales is renamed Aborigines Welfare Board and loses power to remove Aboriginal children. Croker Island Mission is established.
The Child Endowment Act is passed but declares no endowment should be paid to dependent Aboriginal children. The Garden Point Mission is established on Melville…
Darwin is bombed by the Japanese and many Aboriginal people are moved to ‘control camps’. The Church Missionary Society Home for Half-Castes at Mulgoa in…
Wandering Mission is established by the Catholic Archbishop of Perth as a day school and dormitory for Aboriginal girls.
The Salvation Army Boys’ Home, Mount Barker and the Salvation Army Girls’ Home, Fullarton open in South Australia. Carnarvon Mission in Western Australia is established…
The Aborigines Inland Mission sets up the Retta Dixon Home for ‘part-coloured’ or ‘half-caste’ children from the Bagot Road Aboriginal Reserve.
Torres Strait Islanders are allowed to travel to mainland Australia to pursue employment. St Mary’s Hostel near Alice Springs provides accommodation and schooling for Aboriginal…
All Australians, including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are given ‘Australian citizenship’ for the first time. Marella Mission Farm opens, accommodating Aboriginal foster children…
The Commonwealth Electoral Act extended to Aboriginal ex-servicemen.
1952 Marribank is taken over by the Baptist Aborigines Mission and begins accommodating boys aged 14 to 18 and state wards including younger boys from Moore…
1954 Kate Cocks Memorial Babies’ Home in South Australia accommodates single pregnant women and mothers and other children, including Aboriginal children. Many babies were adopted…
Large nuclear tests are carried out at Maralinga, forcing hundreds of Aboriginal people to relocate because of radiation poisoning. Winlaton, in Nunawading, set up as…
Lochiel Park Boys’ Training Centre opens in Adelaide as the first government institution to provide accommodation and training for boys with mild intellectual disabilities. From…
The Allambie Reception Centre opens in Burwood, on the former site of Kildonan Children’s Home. It was the Victorian Government’s main reception centre for children.
The Commonwealth Electoral Act is amended to give the vote to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in federal elections. The Gables opens as…
The Blackburn South Cottages are established by the Mission of St James and St John.
Berry Street Babies’ Home and Hospital, in East Melbourne, starts operating as a maternity home and adoption agency. Umeewarra Mission Home, Davenport Reserve replaces Umeewarra Mission…
The Freedom Ride takes place in New South Wales towns, protesting against racial discrimination.
Around 200 Aboriginal stockmen, led by Vincent Lingiari, walk-off in protest of pay and conditions at Wave Hill station.
More than 90 per cent of Australians vote yes in a referendum to give the Australian Government the power to make laws for Aboriginal and…
Mungo Lady is discovered by a geologist in south-western New South Wales. The human remains are found to be between 40,000 and 42,000 years old,…
The New South Wales Aborigines Welfare Board is abolished. Cootamundra Domestic Training Home for Aboriginal Girls. St Joseph’s Children’s Home begins admitting girls and changes its…
The Church of England Girls and Boys homes, along with the Kinchela Training Home for Aboriginal Boys close in New South Wales.  …
Aboriginal people are counted in the Census for the first time. The Oodnadatta Hostel opens in South Australia, funded by the Commonwealth Government and run by…
The Tent Embassy is pitched outside Parliament House in Canberra.
The Australian Parliament passes the Racial Discrimination Act to help ensure all Australians are treated equally.
Bidura depot and receiving home closes in New South Wales.
Bomaderry Aboriginal Children’s Home closes in New South Wales. The first Link-Up organisation is set up in New South Wales, providing support for Stolen Generations…
Riverina Juvenile Justice Centre is set up by the Department of Youth and Community Services, housing Indigenous children removed from their families.
Uluru is handed back to its traditional owners. Yarra Bay House closes at Phillip Bay.
Marella Mission Farm closes in New South Wales.
The Barunga Statement, calling for rights for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, is presented to Prime Minister Bob Hawke.
Allambie Reception Centre closes in Victoria.
The Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody presents its final report into the deaths of 99 Aboriginal people in Australian jails.
The High Court hands down the Mabo decision, recognising the special relationship that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have with the land. Paul Keating…
The United Nations declares 1993 the International Year of the World’s Indigenous People. Government-run reception centre Turana (formerly the Royal Park Depot) closes in Melbourne.
The Going Home conference takes place in Darwin, bringing together over 600 Aboriginal people that were stolen from families as children.
The first National Reconciliation Week is held.
The Bringing Them Home report is tabled in Federal Parliament. Six states and ACT issue formal apologies to Stolen Generations.
The first National Sorry Day is held.
Northern Territory Government apologies to Stolen Generations. BoysTown closes a Beaudesert facility that housed more than 1000 boys over 40 years. St Joseph’s Refuge in Adelaide…
Brisbane’s Kiah Hostel, a residential facility for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in care that opened around 1978, closes.
Clarendon Children’s Home closes in Tasmania.
Australia’s first Stolen Generations compensation scheme is established in Tasmania.
The Australian Government, led by Prime Minister John Howard, begins an intervention into Northern Territory Aboriginal communities.
Prime Minister Kevin Rudd formally apologises to members of the Stolen Generations on behalf of the Australian Parliament.
The Healing Foundation is established. Australia supports the United National Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People. (Previously Australia had been one of only four…
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander recognition bill passes in Australian Parliament.
Cooinda, established in 1966 at the request of the Department of Native Welfare, for Aboriginal girls attending high school in Perth, remains open.
To mark the 20th anniversary of the Bringing Them Home report, The Healing Foundation presents an Action Plan for Healing to the Prime Minister, calling…
Tenth anniversary of the National Apology to the Stolen Generations takes place in Canberra. Riverina Juvenile Justice Centre, mentioned in the Bringing them Home report,…


The information contained here has been compiled from a range of reputable sources and while we have attempted to verify it, we cannot be held responsible for any inaccuracies or other errors

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