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Last Updated:  Monday, 3 March, 2003, 15:02 GMT
'Stolen' Aborigine returns home
An Aboriginal woman who was taken to Britain as a child under a government policy to assimilate Aborigines into white communities, has travelled to Australia to meet her family.

Neila Penny, 35, is the first of the so-called "Stolen Generations" to take part in such a trip, under a new government-sponsored reunion programme.

She is one of tens of thousands of Aboriginal children who were forcibly separated from their families in the 1960 and 70s in an attempt to "breed out" their Aborigine blood and give them a better life.

I've waited a long time for this... I feel overwhelmed, ecstatic
Neila Penny
Ms Penny, who was raised in Kent, south-east England, arrived in the Western Australia state capital of Perth on Sunday.

She was greeted at the airport by four sisters, two brothers and many cousins, uncles, aunts, nephews and nieces.

She said she did not remember her family because she was separated from them as a toddler.

"I've waited a long time for this, a hell of a long time," Ms Penny said. "I feel overwhelmed, ecstatic."

She said that her adoptive family had been open about her background.

"I've always considered myself Aboriginal," she said.

Her cousin Fred Penny, who organised her trip, said the family was delighted to meet their long-lost relative.

He said that he and his wife had visited Ms Penny last year in England, and had taken with them a book of tales describing their tribe's culture. The family are members of the Nyoongar tribe of south-western Australia.

"It was like she was waiting to hear that. There was an empty spot there that got filled in," he said, adding that this trip was "all part of her healing".

The plight of the Stolen Generations has recently been dramatised in the Philip Noyce film Rabbit-Proof Fence, which was released last year.

The policy was only publicly acknowledged in 1997, when the results of a judicial inquiry were published.




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