In February 1973, under the Child Welfare Act of 1939, Indigenous girl, Brenda, and her siblings were declared neglected children under improper guardianship. The true motives of this heinous act were evidenced by the fact that the inspectors never even set foot in their house or investigated their circumstances. From this day, Brenda became one of the Stolen Generations. After their children are taken, Brenda’s mother and father buy seven dolls, tucking them into bed at night, trying pitifully to replace the irreplaceable. It is impossible to feel the grief and loss they must have felt. After three months, Brenda is placed with a white family.
Brenda lives with this family happily for five years, inseparable from her foster sister, Rebecca. Too young to understand what has happened, too young to understand what is happening when she is ‘stolen’ again and returned to her true family.
Being ripped away from both families causes enormous trauma on Brenda. Back with her natural family, she feels no connection to her Indigenous culture. She misses her foster family terribly. She feels she is living in two different worlds.
This is a book about the Stolen Generation. With Brenda telling the story, we are privy to the lies, the half-truths, the cover-ups, on a personal level. We can feel the pain and anguish that Brenda had to endure.
It is the story of Brenda’s efforts to discover the truth of her past, and the injustice that was dealt to her and her family. It is also about Brenda bringing her two families together.
The Last Daughter was a truly eye-opening read and one that I believe should be a must-read for all Australians. It is a terrible part of Australia’s history, but a part that we should all know about.
Reviewed by Neale Lucas