The Director of Kingsford Legal Centre, Associate Professor Anna Cody, writes how a case involving the Stolen Generation taught her the value of meeting a client where they are most comfortable as well as a lesson in the limitations of litigation when it comes to human rights injustices.
In the mid-90s I was a junior lawyer just starting at Kingsford Legal Centre. I took over from a senior lawyer who had begun the ground breaking public interest case of Joy Williams v State of New South Wales. Her case was one of the first in Australia to challenge the horrific practice of separating Aboriginal children from their families because they were lighter coloured.
The aim of this policy was genocidal: to destroy Aboriginal families and communities and culture by removing children and bringing them up in “white” society. This practice and its effects became known as “the Stolen Generation”. On starting at Kingsford Legal Centre and learning I would have carriage of this case I was overwhelmed and cognisant of the huge responsibility.