Documents & Speeches

Selected reading about Western Australia’s Stolen Generations

Biskup, Peter, Not Slaves Not Citizens: The Aboriginal Problem in Western Australia 1898-1954, UQP, St Lucia, 1973 Choo, Christine, Mission Girls: Aboriginal Women on Catholic Missions in the Kimberley, 1900-1950, UWA Press, Nedlands, 2001. Multi-award winning title.

Davidson, W.S., Havens of Refuge: A history of Leprosy in Western Australia, UWA Press, Nedlands, 1978.

Haebich, Anna, For Their Own Good: Aborigines and Government in the South West of Western Australia, 1900-1940, UWA Press, Nedlands, 1988.

Haebich, Anna, Broken Circles: Fragmenting Indigenous families 1800-2000, FACP, Fremantle, 2000.

Hetherington, Penelope, Settlers, Servants & Slaves: Aboriginal and European Children in Nineteenth-century Western Australia, UWA Press, Nedlands, 2002.

Long, T., ‘The Development of Government Aboriginal Policy: The Effect of Administrative Changes, 1829-1977, in Aborigines of the West: Their Past and Present‘, edited by R.M. and C. Berndt, UWA Press, Nedlands, 1979.

Manne, Robert, In Denial: The Stolen Generations and the Right, The Australian Quarterly Essay, 1, 2001. (whole issue)

Marchant, R., Aboriginal Administration in Western Australia 1886 to 1905, AIATSIS, Canberra, 1981.

Rumley, Hilary and Sandy Toussaint, ‘For Their Own Benefit? A Critical Overview of Aboriginal Policy and Practice at Moola Bulla, East Kimberley, 1910-1955′, in Aboriginal History, vol.1, no. 14, 1990, pp.80-103.

The Stolen Children: Their Stories, edited by Carmel Bird, Random House, Sydney, 1998.

Legislation relating to removal of Aboriginal children in Western Australia

These are the policies which created the stolen generations.

6/1884 : An Act to prevent the enticing of girls of the aboriginal race away from school, or from any service in which they are employed.

It was an offence to remove girls without consent of the protector or school principal. Repealed 14/190511/1874 : Industrial Schools Act

Managers of charitable institutions for needy children, orphans and “children of Aborigines’ had power to retain children voluntarily surrendered to their care and stand in loco parentis to them. “Children of Aborigines” remained under manager’s control to age 21 and could be placed in apprenticeships to age 21 or into service for two to five years without parents’ consent. Parental consent was required for European children. Repealed 31/1907.

25/1886 : The Aborigines Protection Act For the “better protection and management” of Aborigines and to amend laws relating to Aboriginal employment contracts. It covered: – Administration: movement towards centralised and separate administration of Aboriginal affairs. It outlined the structure and duties of the Aborigines Protection Board (APB) and a system of honorary protectors whose duties included advice to the Governor “on proper care of Aboriginal children”. – Employment: contracts; Aboriginal prisoners; apprenticeship of Aboriginal children from age 6 to 21; employment conditions to be inspected but standards of care not stated; offending employers and apprentices liable for fines or imprisonment. – Persons under the Act: “every Aboriginal native of Australia, and every Aboriginal half-caste or child of half-caste or child habitually associating and living with Aboriginals”. Repealed by 14/1905.

5/1897 : Aborigines Act
Amended the 1889 Constitution Act to transfer control of Aboriginal affairs from British to Western Australian government; abolished the 1% clause relating to government revenue applied to Aboriginal welfare; provided for “better protection” of Aborigines. The Aboriginal Protection Board was abolished and the Aborigines Department (AD) was created with the same duties and an additional role of “providing custody, maintenance and education of children of Aborigines”.

14/1905 : Aborigines Act
To “make better provision for protection and care of the Aboriginal inhabitants of Western Australia”.

Major sections:

– Administration: Aborigines Department under the control of Chief Protector of Aborigines, honorary protectors; establishment of departmental institutions; controls over missions.

– Persons under the Act: Aborigines of full descent (referred to as ‘Aboriginal natives’); ‘half-castes’ (persons with Aboriginal parent on either side or children of such persons) who lived with Aboriginal as wife or husband or regularly associated with ‘Aboriginal natives’; ‘half-caste’ children under sixteen irrespective of lifestyle; Aborigines of”suitable degree of civilization” to apply for exemption from the Act.

– Controls over employment: agreements and permits; not to employ Aboriginal girls under age 14.

– Controls over movement: prohibited areas; Aboriginal reserves; removal to reserves and other locations; entry to towns; location of camps.

– Controls over personal and family life: Chief Protector to manage property, earnings, legal guardian of children to age 16 years; approve marriages of Aboriginal women and non-Aboriginal men; sexual contact between Aboriginal women and non-Aboriginal men prohibited; alcohol prohibition; maintenance.

– Penalties: arrest Aborigines without warrant; face six month prison sentences or fines. Repealed 79/1963.

1909 Regulations to 1905 Aborigines Act
Authorised any justice of the peace, any protector of Aborigines or police officer to remove any ‘half-caste’ child under age 8 without prior consultation with Chief Protector of Aborigines.

42/1911 : An Act to further amend the Aborigines Act 1905
Chief Protector the legal guardian of all illegitimate ‘half-caste’ children to the exclusion of mothers’ rights; mission managers to have powers and duties of managers to of children’s institutions under 1907 State Children’s Act; other: reserves, employment, possession of alcohol, removal of women from Aboriginal institutions, courts procedures. Repealed 79/1963.

43/1936 : Aborigines Act Amendment (Native Administration Act)
Significantly amended the Aborigines Act, 1905, with main sections: – Administration: Department of Native Affairs under a Commissioner of Native Affairs; brought more in line with Police Department; Travelling Inspectors; Department to generate own funds. – Application of the Act: extended to all persons of Aboriginal descent deemed ‘natives’ with exception of ‘quadroons’ over age 21, unless classed as ‘native’ by special magisterial order, and persons of less than ‘quadroon’ descent born before 31 January 1936; the latter not to associate with ‘natives’. – Employment: Departmental Native Medical Fund; the Act to cover all forms of labour. – Personal and family life: Commisssioner to be legal guardian of all legitimate and illegitimate ‘native’ children to age 21 regardless of whether has living parents or other family; medical examinations; approval of marriages; intestate Aboriginal estates; maintenance; any sexual contact between Aborigines and non-Aborigines prohibited. – Penalties for any offences increased. – Miscellaneous: Commissioner can intervene to stop traditional Aboriginal practices (eg initiation, child betrothal); Courts of Native Affairs; Aboriginal defendants. Repealed 79/1963.

23/1944 : Natives (Citizenship Rights) Act
Provisions for Certificate of Citizenship by application to Resident Magistrate; applicant must sign that he/she wants to become a citizen, has for two years dissolved tribal and native associations except with lineal descendants of native relatives of first degree, and has served with the armed forces with an honourable discharge, or is an otherwise fit and proper person; applicant to attach stating is of good character and industrious habits; Resident Magistrate must be convinced that for the two previous years the applicant has adopted a civilized life, that full citizenship rights are conducive to the applicant’s welfare; that the applicants can speak and understand English, does not have active leprosy, syphilis, granuloma or yaws, is of industrious habits and good behaviour and reputation and is reasonably capable of managing own affairs. The Resident Magistrate then issues a Certificate of Citizenship and the holder is deemed no longer a native and has all the rights of citizenship. The Resident Magistrate’s decision is final. Repealed 26/1971.

27/1951 : Natives (Citizenship Rights) Act Amendment Act, 1944-1950
Power to decide transferred from magistrate and vested in a board of the magistrate, including chairman of the road board and other prominent community member/s; decision of board to be unanimous. Repealed 26/1971.

60/1954 : Native Administration Act Amendment Act
Reinterpretation of ‘native’: persons of full descent and less who served in the armed forces overseas or for a minimum of six months full time with an honourable discharge to be deemed no longer natives. Repealed 79/1963.

64/1954 : Native Welfare Act
Department of Native Welfare under a Commissioner of Native Welfare; changes allowed for regionalisation of administration; no change to definition of ‘native’; Dept. of Native Welfare duties remained the same including “to provide for custody, maintenance and education of the children of natives. Repealed 24/1972.

24/1972 : Aboriginal Affairs Planning Authority (AAPA) Act and
31/1972 : Community Welfare Act 1972AAPA Act and Community Welfare Acts were to ensure Aboriginal access to all services available to the Western Australian community, to remove discriminatory nature of a welfare authority dealing only with a particular racial group by integrating family welfare and other services for Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people. It created a specialist organisation to foster services essential to programs promoting social and economic development of Aboriginal people that were not part of normal government programs. Welfare duties of Dept. of Native Welfare transferred to Department of Community; State Housing Commission to deal with urban Aboriginal housing; AAPA set up to consult with Aboriginal people, to coordinate activities of various government agencies and to foster economic, social and cultural advancement of Aborigines in WA through its Aboriginal Advisory Council, Aboriginal Affairs Co-ordinating Committee and the Aboriginal Lands Trust.