Modern times have never been easy for Australian aborigines. The continent's indigenous population has abysmal rates of education, poverty and drug abuse, and far shorter lifespans than their European countrymen. But for much of the 20th Century, things were even worse: for decades, a so-called "Stolen Generation" of offspring was forcibly removed from indigenous tribes to be assimilated into white society.
The government-sanctioned move, which started around 1918 and continued into the 1960s, was partly based on an assumption that dark-skinned people made for inherently inferior parents. But Australian authorities were especially interested in getting mixed-race children into Caucasian homes.
In 1992 the Australian courts determined that the pillaged aborigines had rights to their historic land, and the government eventually helped fund ventures to reunite families. The stolen children's first outright court victory came in 1997, when one of the Generation won $450,000 for the painful life trajectory the state's action had launched him on. In 2008, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd issued a formal government apology to members of the Stolen Generation, for a practice he called a "blemished chapter in our nation's history."