'Lost generation' wins an inquiry

Sydney - The Australian government, bowing to pressure from Aborigines calling themselves the "lost generation", has announced an inquiry into an episode in which thousands of children were forcibly taken from their mothers in the name of racial assimilation, writes Robert Milliken.

Sir Ronald Wilson, president of the Human Rights and Equal Opportunities Commission, who will head the inquiry, said yesterday: "This is going to be seen as a real attempt by Australia to face up to its past and to act responsibly with respect to healing the hurts.''

He was referring to a policy, continued to the 1960s, under which authorities removed Aboriginal mixed-race children from their families and put them in homes where they were expected to assimilate into white society. The policy caused immense damage: thousands of Aborigines never saw their parents again.