Collard v WA: Stolen Generation victims fail to achieve justice

In December 2013, the Supreme Court of Western Australia decided Collard v WA, the test case for families affected by the Stolen Generations policies in Western Australia. The Collards, a Noongar family, had their nine children removed from them by the government between 1959 and 1961. They alleged breaches of fiduciary duties against the State for this removal and the subsequent treatment of the children. The action was dismissed entirely. The court found that the children were not removed pursuant to a policy of assimilation. Instead, the judgment invites the view that the Collards were neglectful parents who had their vulnerable children taken by a government who sought only to protect the children. This article outlines the main legal findings and explores how certain findings of the court have an effect upon reconciliation, the collective remembering of the Stolen Generation policies, and the healing of the Collard family. This article discusses the ‘fiction of consent’ in Indigenous child removal, the disproportionate impact of child welfare policies on Indigenous families, and the ‘defence of a colonialist history’ applied by the courts.

Author(s): 

Roxanne Moore is a Noongar lawyer, Fulbright Scholar and Indigenous Rights Campaigner at Amnesty International Australia. The author uses the term ‘Stolen Generations’ acknowledging that this is the preferred terminology of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who were removed by Australian governments from their families and communities.

Publish Date: 
November, 2015
Publication title: 
AJHR 21-1
Publication URL: