Aboriginal Protection Board as a Form of Dispossession.

Published: 2019-05-28 23:32:08
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Aboriginal people are indigenous people who are described on the basis of their skin color and have their own ways of life. Dispersing across the Australian continent these ancient people differentiated themselves into distinct groups with their own language and culture. More than 400 distinct groups of these people have been identified across the continent based on their ancestral languages, distinct speech patterns and dialects. These groups historically lived in three main cultures such as southern, northern, and central cultural areas. These groups of ancient people have lived under strict colonial rules, slavery, and their land being grabbed from them (Montgomerie & Haebich, 2001).

In the twentieth century, new laws were set to govern the aboriginal people for example the aboriginal boards under special legislation were put in place to detain people on reserves, monitor their daily lives and work among many other functions that the boards were to undertake. These boards were to be used as a form of aboriginal advancement but in turn have dispossessed the aboriginal people of their rights. This is due to so many reasons that I personally think were of disadvantage to the aboriginal people.

After being pushed back to reserves from the camps in 1930s due to the government need to save the dole that they were paying them, the aboriginal people felt life in these reserves was too tough and was always controlled by regulations. These people were required to obey house inspections, mangers of the reserves and allow their children to be taken by Europeans in turn of cheap labor in return to have shelter, education and food. This was a form of discrimination to the indigenous group as their rations were withheld when they did not abide to the rules and regulations since every human has a right to be entitled to the basic needs.

Harsh labor that prevailed for the indigenous people was a form of slavery since children were forced to work for the Europeans for a lesser fee. These children worked on the farms, did domestic chores and did not work for the masters alone but also for their children. Young boys worked on the farms while their counter parts young girls faced exploitation from double jeopardy of being a female and as well as an aboriginal as they did domestic service. The young girls were expected to do cooking, house chores, child-minding and gardening.

Many of the girls that were working as domestic workers came back to their homes while pregnant either to their employers or their sons and workers. While the board was to be their protector, nothing much was done to avoid sexual abuse and this underestimated girls level of sexual activity. The board ignored all clear evidence of sexual abuse and encouraged systematic sexual abuse and impregnation of aboriginal girls in domestic apprenticeships which many thought was way of eradicating the aboriginal population. Studies done about domestic services of girls in Queensland did liken their work to slavery because of strenuous labor for just a quarter of the European wage, lack of protection from sexual and physical abuse and having their wages held up in trust accounts (Findandconnect.gov.au, 2015).

The older indigenous Australians were forced to work as stockmen on cattle stations and sheep stations at a minimum wage which was needed to meet larger demands due to their larger families and kinship obligations rather than the European workers. This further compounded Aboriginal poverty. All these were evident at Moor River where poor living conditions prompted them to rural laboring and domestic services for the whites which at the time in the twentieth century were on high demand. Alice Barrett (Worldcat.org, 2015) had an account of all the misery that girls face in the hands of their masters.

Voting is a right for every individual to undertake if democracy is to be achieved in any country but this was not the case with the indigenous community in Australia during the twentieth century even with the boards of protection for the aboriginal people in place. The indigenous people in the reserves were not entitled to their voting rights but only those who merged in the mainstream society had the opportunity. The western and the Queensland specifically excluded the aboriginal people from the electoral roll. Despite their not being enlisted, many (over 1000) of the indigenous Australians were involved in the fight in the First World War. They fought for freedom of empire on foreign battlefields. Enlistment was only allowed for those of European origin or the descent (Comlaw.gov.au, 2015). Though the military authorities were always wary of including those people with mixed descent, some did manage to get enrolled in the military. It is known that at least 200 aboriginal people were able to be enlisted though their wages was controlled by Bleakly under the trust account system.

There was injustice and false accusation for the indigenous Australians, like in 1934 that saw the first appeal to the high court regarding an indigenous Australian who was found to be falsely convicted for murder of a white policeman. Dhakiyarr (victim) had earlier been sentenced to death just because of his race and on whose release he disappeared. This brought a lot of attention on the aboriginal rights. This still always happen even in our society as the rights of the indigenous community are not preserved. They are sometimes convicted just because they are black (Monash.edu.au, 2015).

Some of the indigenous people were denied aboriginality unless they resided at Lake Tyers reserve. This made life under the aborigines protection boards be like jail state despite most boards lacked resources to run their daily duties as some were run by one part time public servant. Rigorous board and reserve regimes existed in South Australia, Queensland and Western Australia as described by Montgomerie & Haebich (2001).

There existed poor education systems for the indigenous people. A little education was provided so that they can continue being poor and continue working on farms and doing domestic chores for the white man. In the twentieth century, the aboriginal children were not allowed to attend state school or some are excluded from school if the non indigenous parents objected to their presence. Some of the reasons they brought about was spurious health grounds and this was evident in New South Wales in the 1890s to 1949. The excluded had to attend reserve schools run by the Protection Boards where they received substandard education in form of manual training, gardening and physical education which only prepared these children for unskilled labor. For the few aboriginal students who managed to attend good schools always left school early than their counter parts from the white community. The performance of indigenous students in national literacy and numeracy tests has been inferior ever since. The low education skills can easily be correlated with their unemployment status which induced poverty and left the aboriginal community under-developed (Findandconnect.gov.au, 2015).

The aboriginal community faced isolation based on the caste barrier that was in place that separated the people based on their colors for instance white and black people. Opportunities were allocated based on the color regardless of the qualifications. For example in New South Wales indigenous people were not permitted to drink or purchase alcohol and had to move to Victoria where they enjoyed more freedom just to quench their thirst. There existed division and exclusion from many shops, churches, community organization, businesses and recreation centers. Although this discrimination was unofficial, it remained entrenched long enough even after governments adopting integration policies in 1940s. This form of segregation devastated aboriginal lives and gnawed away their psyche. Stereotypes that indigenous people were dirty, worthless and inferior were withheld even during the second half of the centaury as revealed in surveys conducted by (Monash.edu.au, 2015).

The Aboriginal housings were poorly maintained by authorities such that they looked like home-made humpies which dotted the camps across the country. These houses reflected their low income and low status. They had no electricity, water, garbage and sewerage disposals. Instead of providing privacy, security and comfort, these homes were places of discomfort as they were flood prone. There was overcrowding and poor conditions that put their life to jeopardy due to their high growth rate. A survey of 200 Aboriginal families in New South Wales in 1960s revealed that the aboriginal dwellings were as four times crowded as the other Australian houses. These conditions caused a threat to the health of this community. Their health got impaired due to the lack of trustworthy health services since the protection board had built a great dread of officialdom among aboriginal community (http://www.hydrant.co.uk), 2015).

The poverty levels for the aboriginal community brought about poor eating habits as meat, vegetables, and fruits were luxuries for many families. Such eating patterns created iron, calcium and vitamin deficiencies thus in turn causing anemia. The impact of anemia was enormous on the levels of physical activities, survival of serious infections and academic performance on the children as stipulated in the surveys done in 1950s and 1960s in New South Wales (Findandconnect.gov.au, 2015).

In conclusion, though the Aboriginal Protection Boards were put in place to make the life of the indigenous people easier, caste barriers, racism and discrimination trapped the indigenous people in poor education, low esteem, low wages which finally resulted into poverty, ill health, poor housing and poor education. Thus these Boards were just a form of dispossession to the Aboriginal community.


(http://www.hydrant.co.uk), S. (2015). Australia | The Commonwealth. Thecommonwealth.org. Retrieved 4 October 2015, from http://thecommonwealth.org/our-member-countries/australia

Comlaw.gov.au,. (2015). Defence Act 1903. Retrieved 4 October 2015, from https://www.comlaw.gov.au/Details/C2012C00270

Findandconnect.gov.au,. (2015). Aboriginal Girls Home - Organisation - Find & Connect - Queensland. Retrieved 4 October 2015, from http://www.findandconnect.gov.au/ref/qld/biogs/QE00338b.htm

Monash.edu.au,. (2015). A tribute to activism (Monash Magazine article). Retrieved 4 October 2015, from http://www.monash.edu.au/pubs/monmag/issue15-2005/around-monash/lippmann.html

Montgomerie, D., & Haebich, A. (2001). Broken Circles: Fragmenting Indigenous Families, 1800-2000. Pacific Affairs, 74(4), 624. http://dx.doi.org/10.2307/3557837

Worldcat.org,. (2015). When the pelican laughed (Book, 2000) [WorldCat.org]. Retrieved 4 October 2015, from http://www.worldcat.org/title/when-the-pelican-laughed/oclc/223006884


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