In December 1997, in response to the first recommendation of Bringing Them Home: Report of the National Inquiry into the Separation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children from Their Families, the Commonwealth Government announced the National Library would be funded to develop and manage an oral history project.

The Bringing Them Home Oral History Project ran from 1998 to 2002 and served to collect and preserve the stories of Indigenous people and others, such as missionaries, police and administrators involved in or affected by the process of child removals.

For more information about this project, as well as copies of newsletters and information about the project's committee, see our PANDORA archive.

Accessing the interviews

The Bringing Them Home oral histories are of enormous historical significance and thanks to additional funding received from the Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs in 2009/10, the Library is now able to provide access to many of the interviews online. The funding has also enabled the Library to schedule follow-up interviews with some of the original Bringing Them Home interviewees in 2010.

The Bringing Them Home interviews can be searched via the Library's catalogue. You can visit the Library to listen to interviews or order personal copies via the catalogue or Copies Direct. Please be aware that it is sometimes necessary to obtain written permission from interviewees to listen to recordings, read transcripts or obtains copies of transcripts or interviews. Conditions of access are noted on the catalogue.

About the project

The National Library of Australia is pleased to have had a role in fulfilling the recommendations of the National Inquiry into the Separation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children from Their Families. The National Inquiry recommended the recording and preservation, for future access, of the testimonies of Indigenous people affected by removal policies.

The Commonwealth Government announced in December 1997 that $1.6 million would be allocated to the Library to undertake a rounded oral history project to collect and preserve the stories of Indigenous people as well as others involved in the process of child removals. The funding was contingent upon a pilot assessing the feasibility of a full-scale project. The pilot project, managed by Gwenda Davey, ran for twelve months duration until June 1999. It aimed to test a methodology and clarify issues by interviewing thirty individuals. It showed that a full scale project was feasible.

The project, managed by Doreen Mellor, commenced in July 1999 and ended in June 2002. The funding allocated to the Library also covered the publication of a book based on the oral histories, Many voices: reflections on experiences of Indigenous child separation, edited by Doreen Mellor and Anna Haebich and published in 2002, now out of print.

Over the last forty years the Library has conducted interviews with a range of Australians who have been involved in, and made a contribution to, a wide variety of enterprises and disciplines. We were well prepared for what the Project required, and we ensured wide consultation with, and the involvement of, the Indigenous community and others with an interest in the project.