J. Isdell, Nullagine. Native question general in district

State Records Archive
Consignment: 255
Item: 1900/0363
Title: J. Isdell, Nullagine. Native question general in district

Keywords: Coorabung (Charley), James Isdell, George Olivey, Axel Ostlund, Marble Bar, Nullagine

[Letter]
Nullagine
14th Apr 1900
To H C Prinsep Esq
Dear Sir,
I would like to again draw your attention to native affairs in this district. If the Government really do intend to watch over and guard the natives against their rapid deterioration and extinction, steps should be taken to do so, the allowing of bush natives to settle down in the close proximity to bush settlements simply means their learning all the white man’s vices and be inoculated with various loathsome diseases. The whole enactments regarding natives wants revising and several new provisions made for their benefit. The allowing of natives to assemble and settle permanently close to these mission centres is not only injurious to the natives themselves but also causes many natives who have kind masters, well cared for and clothed to run away and join the idle natives camped near settlements. It also causes many natives who are well cared for and employed on stations in the neighbourhood to run away and also join these idle vagabonds, these idle natives will not work for anyone – they live on the illicit trade of their women, they are also acquiring a liking for spirits, as in [illeg.] of their camping so close to settlements it is almost impossible to prevent – gins being smuggled into their camps at night time. I was in Marble Bar a few weeks ago, and saw many natives men and women camped you may say in the streets. For the benefit of the natives such a thing should not be allowed.
It makes it a very difficult matter for the police to arrest any natives in these camps, as their movements are so closely watched, that timely warning is always giving of their approach. most the natives camped on the Nullagine townsite do not belong to this district or river, they are mostly from the Oakover and from a distance of over 100 miles eastward. They are simply attracted here by the prospect of being able to trade their women and to live an idle lazy life so a course should not be encouraged by the Government. The want of food does not bring them in, as the country to which they mostly belong is teeming with game and vegetables owing to the last four years good seasons and scarcity of blacks. I would suggest until the government has had time to collect information on which to base a new aboriginal act, that the police should receive strict orders that all unemployed natives should be compelled to camp at least 3 miles outside the limit of any townsite, ending no consideration whatever allow any native women inside the limit, by this means many present idle natives would be compelled to take to their natural way of living and hunting in the bush. Any native men or boys who are employed to be allowed within the limit. And to be also allowed to camp not nearer than a mile from the settlement. The police at present are powerless under present circumstances to abate the nuisance, there is no law in place to cope with it, to arrest and sentence natives under the Vagrant Act would simply entail upon the government is very heavy expense as from Mt Mulligan alone I could send 100 natives in one batch. I am sure that if the matter was talked over with Sir John Forrest, he would plainly see the great injury that is being done to the northern natives through lax regulations and I am sure he would sanction such orders that whilst benefiting all the natives would in no way interfere between masters and servant. I am hoping the government will adapt my previous suggestion as to gathering information from all portions of the colony before pursuing any fresh regulations or new enactments. Mr [Francis Edward] Walsh, the magistrate at Marble Bar, informs me I can [get] a sufficient supply of blankets from him for the few decrepit natives that require them when the cold weather sets in.
I remain yours faithfully,
James Isdell

[Memo]
15/5/00
Chief Protector
See letter from Mr J Isdell of April 14th ’00
EOP
Acknowledge and thank him – add that during the last year I have been earnestly considering the best means of checking the intercourse, especially the mining centres between the white and black race – and intend to recommend certain enactments to that end – He will be glad to hear that a very suitable man has been appointed as travelling inspector and is now making his way toward the Pilbarra field via the Ashburton and Fortesque – [illeg.] started last August – the area is a large one certainly but I hope the activity of this officer will enable him to reach the Pilbara District in a reasonable time. Meanwhile I have ‘your’ letter of last Dec still before me and will use the information therein in my arguments towards reform. I regret much that my representations in this direction during the last session, owing to the heavy duties of the Parliament then were unavoidably left standing over.
HCP
15.5.1900

[Memo]
From Clerk of Petty Sessions
To The Chief Protector of Aborigines, Perth
Place: Nullagine, N.W.
Date: 28th April 1900
Re. Coorabung Charley Ab. N.W.A
Sir,
I have the honour to forward your report on conviction of this Ab Native, together with the remarks thereon by J Isdell Esq J. P.
Clerk of Petty Sessions, Nullagine
Note:
Acknowledge – say I have read Mr Isdell’s remarks on this case and shall use them when representing necessity for fresh cases re aborigines
HCP
18.5.1900

[Memo]
See letter from J Isdell of 12.6.00
EOP
20/7/00
Acknowledge – say that the Inspector (W Geo Olivey) may be travelling incognito for what I know, but I fear not always – However, he is a very shrewd and impartial observer – I will make the suggestion to him when I next write – I am glad to say I have received visits from one or two residents of the Pilbarra field whose statements quite corroborate Mr Isdell’s.
HCP
20.7.00

[Memo]
See letter from Mr J Isdell dated Nullagine dated July 6th 1900, re condition of natives at Nullagine.
EOP
8/8/00
Please reply by wire to Isdell Nullagine – 80 blankets were sent to R M Marble Bar on 23rd April for distribution – am wiring to him re your letter 6th July
HCP
Wire to R M Marble Bar – 80 blankets for natives sent you 23 April. Trust you distributed a good number at Nullagine where I hear a number of old and decrepit natives require them. Please see that the instructions in my coming letter of advice are carried out and report if more rations are required there.
HCP
Mr P
If more are reported as required please order them – also blankets.
HCP
8.8.00

[Letter]
Nullagine
11th Aug 1900
To H C Prinsep
Dear Sir,
Yours of 20th July and Mr Olivey just to hand. Also your telegram re native blankets. I sincerely hope that Mr Olivey in his capacity as Travelling Inspector is all you anticipate.
Re native blankets: I have had some correspondence with the Resident Magistrate at Marble Bar on the subject and sent him in the names of about 35 old decrepit natives who are living on the charity of the white residents – and who should be supplied with blankets, clothing and rations by the Government. So far I have not received any blankets for this district. As the Nullagine is a separately proclaimed district from Marble Bar, will you in future arrange that all blankets, clothing etc for natives here be addressed to the district, to avoid delay and correspondence with Marble Bar. I cannot possibly see why many squatting stations and police stations should received the amount of supplies they do, and this district be denied any. Hoping all this will be rectified on the receipt of Mr Olivey’s reports.
I remain, Yours Truly,
James Isdell

[Memo]
Beg to acknowledge receipt of your letter 11th August and to inform you that next season I will send you a bale of blankets, separate from those of Marble Bar – I will write to you further on receipt of Mr Olivey’s report, when no doubt Mr Prinsep will have returned from the Eastern Colonies where he has been on a visit.
EOP

[Letter]
27 Sept 1900
From the Resident Magistrate Marble Bar
To The Chief Protector of Aborigines, Perth
I beg to acknowledge receipt of your letter No 4/144 of 21st July last.
When in Nullagine on my last visit I made inquiries and find that there are practically no indigent natives in the district. There were a few old natives who should have had blankets for the cold weather, but the supply arrived too late.
In reference to the rumoured immorality of the natives, I have collected a good deal of information but I notice in the Roebourne newspaper that Mr Olivey, your Inspector, is likely to visit the district. I think perhaps it will be better for me to see him and he can then judge for himself and supply a report on this branch of the native question.
I have, etc,
A Ostlund
Resident Magistrate

[Memo]
Acknowledged with thanks – It will be better, as you suggest, to wait ill Mr Olivey our Travelling Inspector visits Nullagine, when he can confer with you on the native question in the Nullagine district and report to this office.
EOP
16.10.00
PS
I will see that the blankets reach you in good time, next season.

[Letter]
17.12.1900
To: The Chief Protector of Aborigines, Perth
Nullagine
At this Township I saw twenty natives altogether, but only if you them were employed and those mostly women. The two hotel keepers, Messrs Clemenen and Walker, employed two or three men each, three women are employed at the hop-beer shop and the butcher has one man and two or three women working for him. At a garden a mile or so up the river a white man named Wordley keeps a woman, there being several natives loafing about there at times. At this garden I saw and treated a very bad case of syphilis and have left medicine with Wordley to contine the treatment. I visited two or three other camps, in company with Constable Brown and found two men about 55, both pretty strong and hearty and three old women two of them nearly blind. These later I should have put on relief but until the loafers are cleared out the township I consider it is useless to feed these old people, as those able to work would probably get the benefit of the rations supplied.
I also saw two half caste children – one a boy about eight or nine at Wordley’s garden and the other, a child only a few weeks old, at Butcher’s camp.
I was informed there were a great many natives about the township just before my arrival, but they had gone into the bush towards Roy Hill farther back for a big Corroboree. The natives for the most part absolutely refuse to work and live on the prostitution of the women. I believe several white men keep women in and around the township and outlying camps, but it is a difficult matter to obtain any definite information, the police constable being quite a new hand and knowing nothing at all about natives.
James Isdell of Mosquito Creek told me he has applied for blankets for the old natives last winter, but none were obtainable. I have since ascertained that there is now a good supply at Marble Bar and will make arrangements for a bale to be sent to Nullagine before the next winter. The police station is very primitive, being a small bough shed, with a big log to chain prisoners onto. The prisoners (native) brought in from Hornjan’s Horryan’s Horrigan’s Station and convicted of cattle killing were kept in the police camp for two or three days.
G. S. Olivey
Travelling Inspector
Corunna Downs

[Telegram]
Nullagine
To Chief Protector of Aborigines
Hold business license in connection my business at Nullagine – have been accustomed employ two old native women about three hours daily – daily officer in charge police refuses allow native women in township – is he justified – these women receive from me daily rations and clothes sufficient for themselves and family
D H Bradshaw

[Memo]
Chief Protector
See report from Mr Isdell dated 14.11.00, also letter from Mr Olivey reporting on Nullagine dated Corunna Downs 18.11.00
EOP
17.12.00
NB
See if we have any reports at all from Mr Ostlund – if not, why not, to get one at once and see if it agrees with private reports of Olivey’s.

[Memo]
Chief Protector
See wire from Mr Bradshaw date 7 Dec 1900 re police refusal to allow two natives in township of Nullagine although in employment
EOP
7/12/00
Reply
Not knowing circumstances decline to interfere with police who act under orders of Resident Magistrate – but consider that generally native women should be kept out of township
HCP
7.12.00

Katitjin Notes:

James Isdell
James Isdell was a pastoralist, parliamentarian, and traveling protector of Aborigines. Although he expresses compassion in his communications in some records, such as his regard for protecting the assets of Turkey in Item 1910/0318, he was more notoriously known for being the instigator of the Canning Stock Route and an “enthusiastic child removalist.” The following quote is from a chapter by Robert Manne, in the book Genocide and settler society: frontier violence and stolen indigenous children in Australian history (2004), edited by A. Dirk Moses:

The most enthusiastic West Australian child removalist in these early days was James Isdell, the former pastoralist and parliamentarian, who was appointed traveling protector for the north in 1907. On 13 Nov 1908, Isdell wrote from the Fitzroy River district to the Chief Inspector, Charles Gale. “I consider it a great scandal to allow any of these half-caste girls to remain with the natives.” On 15 Jan 1909, Gale issued Isdell with the authority to “collect all half-caste boys and girls” and to transport them to Beagle Bay. Isdell expressed his gratitude: “It should have been done years ago.” By May 1909, he was able to report from Wyndham that the entire East Kimberley region had been “cleaned up.”
Isdell was aware that sentimentalists from the south sometimes wrote letters to newspapers “detailing the cruelty and harrowing grief of the mothers.” He regarded such complaints as nonsensical. “Let them visit and reside for a while” in one of the native camps and see for themselves “the open indecency and immorality and hear the vile conversations ordinarily carried on which these young children see, listen to, and repeat.” Isdell did not believe that the Aboriginal mother felt the forcible removal of her child more deeply than did a bitch the loss of a pup. “I would not hesitate,” he wrote, “to separate any half-caste from its Aboriginal mother, no matter how frantic momentary grief might be at the time. They soon forget their offspring.” “All Aboriginal women,” he explained in letters to Gale “are prostitutes at heart” and all Aborigines are “dirty, filthy, immoral.” (Moses 2004, 222-223)

Olivey, George Sydney (1863-1937)
George Olivey was the first Travelling Inspector for Aborigines, appointed in 1899 to make a grand tour of the state with the aim of ensuring that the policies of the Department for Aborigines, under Chief Protector Henry Prinsep, were being complied with. He continued in this role until 1902. Born in Sydney to a British military family (his father was Lieut-Col Sir Walter Rice Olivey), he came to Western Australia in about 1887 and was part owner of Annean Station, near Nannine until 1909. He then farmed at Clonbinane, near Busselton until 1911, after which he became the Rabbit Inspector at Northam for the Dept of Agriculture.

Rations to indigent natives Lower Murchison. Proposed reduction in rates at Cue, Nannine, Mt magnet, Peak Hill.

State Records Archive
Consignment: 255
Item: 1908/0966

Title: Rations to indigent natives Lower Murchison. Proposed reduction in rates at Cue, Nannine, Mt Magnet, Peak Hill.

Keywords: rations, Cue, Nannine, Mt Magnet, Peak Hill, police, Aboriginal protectors

[Letter]
13/220
18th Sep 1908
To: Inspector of Police, Cue
From: The Chief Protector of Aborigines
I am directed to write to you regarding accounts for rationing Aboriginal natives by Police Constables J McDonald, Nannine, McLernon, Mt Magnet, Jas O’Connor, Peak Hill and A Brodie, Cue. J McDonald, McLernon and A Brodie how charging 9d per day for each native. 14 lbs of flour given at Mt Magnet and Cue it’s too much. Natives here frequently state they cannot get through 10 lbs in the week. The Chief Protector is of the opinion that the natives at Nannine, Mt Magnet and Cue should be rationed at 6d per day each. With reference to Peak Hill there are on the list three half-caste girls who should if possible be sent to Perth and from there forwarded to some mission. Please let me know if this can be done also report fully regarding rations at stations I have mentioned.
E. W. Pechell

[Accounts Memo]
Police Dept, Murchison District, Cue
3rd Oct 1908
Memo of accounts for Rations to Indigent Aborigines, Sept quarter 1908
A Brodie, Const, Cue
2 @ 30 days @ 9d and 4 @ 20 days @ 9d = £5/5/-
J McLernon, Const, Mt Magnet
5 @ 30 days @ 9d = £5/12/6
J O’Connor, Const, Peak Hill
19 @ 30 days @ 9d = £21/7/6
Wm Walker, Const, Wiluna
9 @ 30 days @ 9d plus half-caste child 30 days @ 6d = £14/5/-

[Letter]
9th October 1908
From: F. G. Mitchell, Police Department, Sub-Inspector’s Office, Cue
Sergt Simpson,
The Chief Protector of Aborigines considers 10 lbs flour per week sufficient for each native on ration list and that the charge should be reduced to 6d per diem. Is Const Brodie agreeable to ration natives on this scale and at price?

[Added to letter]
9/10/1903
Constable Brodie,
Are you agreeable to ration indigent natives at the scale and price and given herein?
Louis W Simpson
Sergt 51

[Added to letter]
13/10/08
Sergt Simpson
I am not agreeable to ration natives on the scale and price herein mentioned, but would be agreeable to do it at 7d per day. If the flour was reduced to 8 lbs per week, I would be willing to do it at 6d.
I may mention that the rations supplied by me to the natives is of the best quality available in Cue.
A Brodie
Const 498

[Letter]
9th October 1908
From: F. G. Mitchell, Police Department, Sub-Inspector’s Office, Cue
Const McDonald, Nannine
The Chief Protector of Aborigines considers the rations to indigent natives and cost should be reduced. He suggests 6d per diem would be sufficient and the scale 10 lbs flour weekly and I presume some tea and sugar. Meat and tobacco, no doubt he considers unnecessary. Please reply at once if you will ration at above price and state the scale you will provide.
F. G. Mitchell
Sub-Inspr

[Added to letter]
10/10/08
Sub Inspt Mitchell
The ration of 10 lbs of flour, 1 1/2 lbs of sugar and 3 ozs of tea per week without meat and tobacco would not I think be enough rations for these natives. At the present time the natives get their rations every day for if given at once they gorge themselves for a couple of days and do the best they can for the remainder of the week, besides the regular supply every day, one or two natives always turn up for their breakfast, so that they really get more than is charged for and frequently get two cakes of tobacco instead of one per week.
Frequently clothing is given them or else they would next to naked. If the Chief Protector will forward three pairs of trousers, four shirts, and three dresses for the use of the natives. I will have them delivered as I think necessary and will supply 10 lbs of flour, 1/2 lb of sugar and 3 ozs of tea per week to deserving natives at 6d per day, but if I find I cannot do it except at a loss I will forward a further report about the matter
J McDonald
Cons 266

[Letter]
9th October 1908
From: F. G. Mitchell, Police Department, Sub-Inspector’s Office, Cue
Const McLernon, Mt Magnet
The Chief Protector of Aborigines complains at the quantity of flour indigent natives receive weekly. He suggests 10 lbs per week is quite sufficient and a reduction in charge accordingly to 6d per diem. Will you do it at the above price and state the scale on which you will provide. This does not mean reduction of tea and sugar.
F. G. Mitchell
Sub Inspr

[Added to letter]
10/10/08
Sub Inspt Mitchell, Cue
I have to report for your information regarding indigent natives that as flour is 2 1/2 per lb here, a person could scarcely do this for 6d per diem for 10 lbs per week. I am aware that the 14 lbs was too much for one native per week and I would suggest that allowance of flour be reduced to 8 lbs the week each. This in addition to a bit of bush food they can gather would then be ample for them. I can give 8 lbs flour, 2 lbs sugar, and 1/4 lb tea each per week here at 6d per diem.
J McLernon
Const 346

[Letter]
9th October 1908
From: F. G. Mitchell, Police Department, Sub-Inspector’s Office, Cue
Const O’Connor, Peak Hill
The Chief Protector of Aborigines complains at the quantity of flour indigent natives receive weekly.He suggests 10 lbs per week is quite sufficient and a reduction in charge accordingly to 6d per diem. Will you do it at the above price and state the scale? Reply at once.
F. G. Mitchell
Sub Inspr

[Added to letter]
12/10/08
Sub Inspt Mitchell, Cue
I respectfully report for your information the scale of flour issued to the natives per day is 2 lbs each. I have no objection to reducing it down to 10 lbs per week but I cannot see my way clear to reduce it to 6d per diem.
Jas O’Connor
Const 787

[Memo]
To Inspector of Police, Cue
12th Oct 1908
In my memo of today concerning relief to natives in your district I forgot to mention that I have not yet received any reply to questions contained in my letter 13/220 re the three half-caste girls on the relief list at Peak Hill. Unless they are very strong reasons against it arrangements should be made to send them to Perth.
C. F. Gale
Chief Protector of Aborigines

[Letter]
13/10/1908
To Sub-Inspector Mitchell
Re: Rationing indigent natives proposed reduction from 9d to 6d per diem
Const Brodie’s minute forwarded for your information and that of the Chief Inspector of Aborigines.
Louis Simpson
Sergt 51

[Added to letter]
17/10/08
To: The Chief Protector of Aborigines, Perth
I cannot do better than by forwarding you the different constables reports in regard the subject matter. The constables are undertaking to do what it would be impossible to find a civilian to do; that is, supplying the natives with food with practically no remuneration for services rendered and the use of money outlayed.
I would have replied sooner but when your letter reached Cue I was away in district it was therefore laying in my office for about 14 days before it could receive any attention.
The Const at Peak Hill informs me he is unable to supply at present for information in regard to the two half caste children being sent to Perth. He however tells me it is impossible to get anyone to bring them as far as the train.
Please note two lbs bread is 5d in Cue, 7d Nannine, 10d Peak Hill. You can form an opinion as to how much is left when rations supplied are paid for.
F. G. Mitchell
Sub-Insptr

[Letter]
Peak Hill
16th Nov 1908
To: The Chief Protector of Aborigines
Dear Sir,
I have the honour to address this letter of protest to you. The native people at this district are persecuted by many both by word and deed, and I wish to call to your notice the most recent, the publication by the Murcheson Times (Cue) of a malicious report that – “tribes of natives are hanging around and menacing the police station where for half castes are awaiting transport to the coast etc”
Now I as one who for over five years have closely studied the native people, and was in a humble measure active in obtaining the order to make provision for the protection of them. Three little girls (Teresa/Daisy 8 3/4 yrs – Maninda/Lizzie 5 3/4 years – Rosie 6 yrs) and living close to the police station, visiting the children and also explaining to their native friends and relations the good fortune the girls would meet, know that those statements are shamefully false and that’s some cowardly spirit supplies numerous scandal and lies to newspapers to the hurt of the poor people so maligned. Cannot some special measure be taken to end this? I hope to get an extended report at a future date.
Faithfully Yours,
John McNaughton JP MB FRCSE

Mrs Hester wishes to retain two half-caste girls

State Records Archive
Consignment: 255
Item: 1907/0188
Title: Reverend A Burton, Middle Swan. Mrs A Hester of Bullsbrook has 2 half-caste girls in her care – wishes to retain them

Keywords: Matilda Hester, Rev A Burton, Yintheebung (Minnie), Yandirrthyango (Lizzie)

[File cover]
188/07
Recd: A Burton, Middle Swan
Subject: Two h.c. children in charge of Mrs M A Hester, Bullsbrook – security required that she may retain these children
Letter to Revd A Burton – 10/523
Assent to Mrs Hester – 10/521
11.03.07

[Letter]
5th March 1907
From: A Burton, Swan Native and Half-Caste Mission, Middle Swan
To: The Chief Protector of Aborigines, Perth
Dear Sir,
Mrs Matilda Anne Hester, widow, of Bull’s Brook has in her care two half-caste children who were formally indentured to her on 30th April 1903 under the names of Yintheebung (alias Minnie) and Yandirrthyango (alias Lizzie). Previous to this date Mrs Hester says that she had the care of the children for at least 5 years, i.e. from the time that the elder one was about 6 and the younger one about 2 years old.
They have been taught the rudiments of reading, writing and arithmatic and attend the Govt School at Bullsbrook.
I desire to recommend that if possible some security be given to Mrs Hester to enable her to retain these children under her control as a danger lies ahead if other persons can entice them away with impunity. I am quite satisfied that they are in good hands.
Yours very truly,
A Burton

[File cover]
824/06
From: Mrs M A Hester, Bull’s Brook
Subject: Care of 2 h.c. girls who have been under indenture (Minnie & Lizzie)
Mr Peshell [secretary]
Please copy and hand to Mrs Logue (her sister) my reply to Mrs Hester
HCP [Henry Prinsep]
13.10.06
done 10/147

[Letter: there appears to have been a first page to this letter that is now missing]
…her at first, but she is quite strong now. She is very little use yet being too young to do anything. She is attending the State School. The elder girl was about six when I took her, she is now between 13 & 14 years, her mother gave her to me, she had a black father and when they left the station, to go on to the tin fields they left her with me. So I though it was my duty to bring her away as all young girls got the bad on the fields.
It would be very hard for me to part with them now as I have had them so long and I am very fond of the children and I have had a lot of expense with them.
They are both attending the State School and are getting on well.
I would like to adopt them so that I can look after them the same as my own children. If you would allow me to, my sister will be able to give you any thing you wish to know.
Yours Faithfully,
M. A. Hester

[Extract from Minnie’s school book]

Katitjin Notes:
Matilda Hester (1865-1956), nee Logue, was married to Frederick Henry Valentine Hester in 1895 and lived at Mallina Station until it was destroyed by cyclone in 1898, at which time it is likely that the couple moved to Abydos Station,  which was owned and managed by her brother Joseph Ephraim Hester, where she remained even after her husband’s death in 1901. It was during this time that Matilda took Lizzie and Millie into her care. In 1903, when Lizzie and Millie were formally indentured to her, she was living at Abydos Station. In 1906, Matilda moved to Bullsbrook and took the two girls with her; she then moved back to the Logue family home “The Camp” in Mornington Mills.

J Isdell, Broome. General report (as Travelling Protector) Part 1

State Records Archive
Consignment: 652
Item: 1908/0332

Title: J Isdell, Broome. General report (as Travelling Protector)

Keywords: James Isdell, Broome, Willy Creek, Barred Creek, John McCarthy, police

[Letter]
Broome
8 Feb ’08
To: Chief Protector, Perth
Sir,
Two of my horses having gone astray I have been delayed but have just got them and leave on Monday 10th.
With reference to the murder of a black woman by her man and of which I wired now. I was acquainted with both and considered [illeg.] a dangerous character and I think there will be some difficulty in capturing him. My complaint in the matter shared with most of Broome residents is the totally inadequate police protection for such a town as Broome with its population of over 1000 Asiatic and 200 Aborigines. I do not know of any northern coastal town that has greater claims for mounted police than Broome. This large number of aborigines within a hundred miles radius alone entitles the place to one. The foul murder of a black woman within a mile of the town, shows the necessity of it. It was not a tribal murder, but I think that drink and coloured men had something to do with it, at any rate owing to there being [illeg.] mounted police our outfit for such, no steps were taken to follow up the murderer. I can safely say that if it had been a white man or woman that was so fatally murdered both horses and police would have been quickly formed. At present there are only two foot police in Broome. One of those is a water policeman having charge of the jetty. The other one is a new arrival straight off the streets of Perth, totally ignorant of aborigines and asiatics, who is although willing enough, totally unacquainted with natives and their ways and equally so with the horde of aliens. The corporal in charge cannot do outside duty, as his whole time is taken up in the office, writing red tape reports, etc. There is one solitary useless horse worth about £5 at most and this is the [illeg.] to the district, murder or any other legally foul crime can be committed with impunity and no police to check or follow up the criminals. The whole police arrangements are a real disgrace to the police dept and the govt for allowing it to exist. I blame Sub-Inspector McCarthy who is in charge of the district and resides in Derby. He is well aware of the state of affairs, but as economy in the police dept means practically [illeg.] promotion of course it is his interest to keep down expenses even the use of a native to look the horse or as a tracker is a farce. I’m having to get a boy if available at his own expense. The whole business is a disgrace and I hope questions will be asked as soon as [illeg.] that will expose the present mal-administration of the dept.
I remain yours obediently,
James Isdell

[Letter]
Barred Creek
18.02.08
To: Chief Protector, Perth
Sir,
I left Broome on Tuesday 11th en route for Carnot Bay. On Sunday before leaving a native named Jacky murdered his woman about a mile from Broome. As there is only the corporal and one foot policeman and a water policeman at the jetty, with no horses nor outfit to follow up the murder however I am glad to say I succeeded in capturing Jacky yesterday evening, with a little strategy and assistance from Capt Frances of the schooner Hercules he is now safe on board the schooner and I am sending him into Broome on a lugger today. I have no means of securing him in camp otherwise have taken him by horses.
I visited Willy Creek and saw a fair number of natives, as this creek is the best fishing ground along this coast, between Broome and Carnot Bay, I will shift all natives from Barred Creek to there. There are three coloured men camped cutting firewood and only boats for firewood enter the Creek. I visited some native wells in the Pindan but found these all dry. From Willy Creek I pushed on to Barred Creek arriving on Sunday. A very large number of natives were camped here but they had cleared our before I arrived. However most of them went away to Willy Creek and Streeter’s Station, of course when I leave they will all come back as they are well aware that there is no mounted police in the district. Capt Frances, who has a large staff of coloured me, overhauling his boats, complains very truthfully and bitterly about the neglect of the police dept in not having a mounted man to keep the natives away. They demoralise his men and prevent him keeping order amongst them. He wrote to Corp Stewart on the matter, I saw his letters on the day I left Broome. I told the Corporal to take it to the Acting Resident Magistrate as he had charge of the district and that I had done my best to get a mounted man and would not bother any more. Last December I had a wire from your department stating a good man was coming from Wyndham but have heard nothing further. On Sunday 9th, Capt Frances informs me a boat arrived from Broome with grog on board. Consequently there was a wild orgie amoungst the natives for a day or two, many of them getting knocked about fighting. I would strongly recommend the closing of Barred Creek against all natives starting from south bank of the mouth of the creek, thence 2 miles south, thence 2 miles east, thence 4 miles north, thence 2 miles west to coast, this would take in all the camping ground. Barred Creek is not a good fishing ground and after the boats leave no natives come near the creek until following lay up season. Willy Creek, 10 miles south of Barred Creek, is their main camping ground.
There has been very little rain anywhere, the country being very dry, last year up to end of January the average was 27 inches, this year to date it is barely 9 inches, a vast difference. I am afraid that if a change does not soon take place large numbers of back country abos will flock into the coast for food and water. I am afraid that along the southern coast from Broome to Wallal will be very bad and a large number of abos thrown on hands of the Dept for food. It must be remembered that the whole of that line of coast has been leased. The natives have not any acre of land of their own. The Govt stock route wells are being used by some [illeg.] stations and a native is not allowed to camp on any of them. This is a public scandal unless some provision is made by the way of reserves in the near future I am sure the relief expenditure will keep mounting. My past correspondence I have spoken strongly re this point and hope the [illeg.] country will be resumed for native purposes.
I remain yours obediently,
James Isdell

“Right of Occupancy”?

Landor, Edward Wilson. 1847. The Bushman: Life in a New Colony. London: Richard Bentley.
Online edition here

This chapter reveals how early settlers and government officials were well aware that the land had been seized from the Noongar Nation without consent or treaty.

CHAPTER 15.

HOW THE LAWS OF ENGLAND AFFECT THE NATIVES.

The native population of our colony are said to be a much more peaceable and harmless race than those of any other part of Australia. In the early days of the settlement they caused a good deal of trouble, and were very destructive to the pigs and sheep of the colonists; but a little well-timed severity, and a steadily pursued system of government, soon reduced them into well-conducted subjects of the British Crown. There appears, however, to be little hope of civilizing them, and teaching them European arts and habits. Those of mature age, though indolent, and seldom inclined to be useful in the smallest degree, are peaceful in their habits; and when in want of a little flour will exert themselves to earn it, by carrying letters, shooting wild ducks with a gun lent to them, driving home cattle, or any other easy pursuit; but they appear to be incapable of elevation above their original condition. Considerable pains have been bestowed (especially by the Wesleyans) upon the native children, many of whom are educated in schools at Perth, Fremantle, and other places, in the hope of making them eventually useful servants to the settlers. Most of these, however, betake themselves to the bush, and resume their hereditary pursuits, just at the age when it is hoped they will become useful. Very frequently they die at that age of mesenteric disorders; and very few indeed become permanently civilized in their habits.

Nothing could be more anomalous and perplexing than the position of the Aborigines as British subjects. Our brave and conscientious Britons, whilst taking possession of their territory, have been most careful and anxious to make it universally known, that Australia is not a conquered country; and successive Secretaries of State, who write to their governors in a tone like that in which men of sour tempers address their maladroit domestics, have repeatedly commanded that it must never be forgotten “that our possession of this territory is based on a right of occupancy.”

A “right of occupancy!” Amiable sophistry! Why not say boldly at once, the right of power? We have seized upon the country, and shot down the inhabitants, until the survivors have found it expedient to submit to our rule. We have acted exactly as Julius Caesar did when he took possession of Britain. But Caesar was not so hypocritical as to pretend any moral right to possession. On what grounds can we possibly claim a right to the occupancy of the land? We are told, because civilized people are justified in extending themselves over uncivilized countries. According to this doctrine, were there a nation in the world superior to ourselves in the arts of life, and of a different religious faith, it would be equally entitled (had it the physical power) to the possession of Old England under the “right of occupancy;” for the sole purpose of our moral and social improvement, and to make us participants in the supposed truths of a new creed.

We have a right to our Australian possessions; but it is the right of Conquest, and we hold them with the grasp of Power. Unless we proceed on this foundation, our conduct towards the native population can be considered only as a monstrous absurdity. However Secretaries of State may choose to phrase the matter, we can have no other right of occupancy. We resolve to found a colony in a country, the inhabitants of which are not strong enough to prevent our so doing, though they evince their repugnance by a thousand acts of hostility.

We build houses and cultivate the soil, and for our own protection we find it necessary to declare the native population subject to our laws.

This would be an easy and simple matter were it the case of conquerors dictating to the conquered; but our Secretaries of State, exhibiting an interesting display of conscientiousness and timidity, shrink from the responsibility of having sanctioned a conquest over a nation of miserable savages, protected by the oracles at Exeter Hall, and reject with sharp cries of anger the scurrilous imputation. Instead, therefore, of being in possession by right of arms, we modestly appropriate the land to ourselves, whilst making the most civil assurances that we take not this liberty as conquerors, but merely in order to gratify a praiseworthy desire of occupying the country. We then declare ourselves seised in fee by right of occupancy. But now comes the difficulty. What right have we to impose laws upon people whom we profess not to have conquered, and who have never annexed themselves or their country to the British Empire by any written or even verbal treaty?

A O Neville Evidence Part 18

State Records Office of Western Australia
Microfilm
Acc 2922/1-2
Title: Transcript of evidence 1934
Item 1 & Item 2

Aborigines Royal Commission  005-3

Tuesday, 13th March, 1934

H. D. Moseley, Esq., Commissioner.

AUBUR [sic] OCTAVIUS NEVILLE, Chief Protector of Aborigines, further examined:

[Part 1] [Part 2] [Part 3] [Part 4] [Part 5] [Part 6] [Part 7] [Part 8] [Part 9] [Part 10] [Part 11] [Part 12] [Part 13] [Part 14] [Part 15] [Part 16] [Part 17] Continued…

I refer to Sections 118-120 of the Licensing Act, Section 45 of the Aborigines Act. The Licensing Act does not include half-castes, nor does it enable exempted aborigines or half-castes to obtain liquor. The object we have in view is to make it an offence to supply liquor, either to aborigines, half-castes or coloured persons, unless exempted, and to exclude those from licensed premises unless similarly exempted. In practice, most cases are taken under the Aborigines Act, as it has a wider application than these sections of the Licensing Act. It is proposed to insert a new section after Section 45 of the principal Act as follows: —
“45A.(1) Any person being the holder of a publican’s general license or wayside house license who shall permit or suffer any aboriginal or half-caste not exempt from the provisions of this Act to enter remain in or loiter about his licensed premises shall be guilty of an offence against this Act,
(2) Any aboriginal or half-caste not exempted from the provisions of this Act who enters or remains on or loiters about the premises in respect of which a publican’s general license or wayside house license under the provisions of the Licensing Act 1911-22 is held shall be guilty of an offence against this Act provided that this section shall not apply to any aboriginal or half-caste employed on the licensed premises under a permit granted by the Chief Protector.”
With regard to the first part, it has been ruled by the Crown Law Department that “aboriginal” means an aboriginal, defined under Section 2 of the Act and not under Section 3.

83. There is no definition under Section 2? — It says an original inhabitant of Australia; in other words, a half-caste is deemed to be an aboriginal is not included in the Section.

84. The definition in Section 2 is that of a half-caste. You have to read Section 3 to find out the definition of “aboriginal”? — I was thinking of the amendment we propose to make defining an aboriginal in that section.

[End of page 70]

I have here a minute by the Assistant Crown Solicitor written in 1932 and dealing with the definition of “aboriginal”. I put in the Chief Secretary’s department file No. 302/32 (Exhibit 22). Our object is to prevent natives, half-castes or coloured parsons obtaining liquor unless they are definitely exempted. A considerable number of people are getting liquor. At Wagin the other day the suppliers claimed that some they supplied did not come under the Act, but the Protector won his case. The last proviso in the proposed new section covers the granting of a license by the Chief Protector to a publican who may wish to employ a native on his premises. We give permission to publicans in the North only to employ as a yardman a male native, but we do not allow any females on the premises. Under regulation, the Chief Protector has power to give a special permit for that purpose. Sections 47 to 52 deal with firearms. These sections should be restored, but I do not think that is likely to happen. I recognise the wisdom of having one authority only to deal with the issue of licenses for firearms.

85. Probably anything that is done in that direction should be done by amending the Firearms Act? — The Commissioner of Police should work in conjunction with the Protector in regard to licenses to natives, so that there may be no injustice done to them. If the matter is left in the hands of the police, very few natives, as we know, will be permitted to carry firearms. Section 58 of the Act deals with penalties, it is proposed to increase some of the penalties which, in our opinion, are insufficient. We propose to substitute the words “three years” for “six months” in the fourth line, and to substitute the words “one hundred” for “fifty”.

86. That is the maximum term of imprisonment ? — Yes. We also propose to add the words “or both” after “pounds” in the last line. In the North, men, particularly Asiatics,

[End of page 71]

are constantly being brought up for supplying liquor to aborigines. They pay the fine of £50, but commit the same offence soon afterwards. The penalties are less than those provided in other ordinances in Australia. It would be a good check on wrongdoing if the penalties were increased. It is proposed to amend Section 59A. of the principal Act by inserting a new subsection as follows :—
“No admission of guilt or confession before trial shall be sought or obtained from any aboriginal or half-caste charged or suspected of any offence the punishment for which may involve loss of life or liberty except with the consent of the Chief Protector of Aborigines, and if any such admission or confession is obtained it shall not be received in evidence.”
Section 59A. of the Act provides that a native shall not plead guilty, shall not be allowed to plead guilty, can only plead guilty if the Protector does it for him, and is quite satisfied that he should plead guilty. In criminal court cases there is never a plea of guilty put in; it is always a plea of not guilty in order to give the native a chance. We find, however, that police officials extract confessions from natives and produce them in court as evidence. The two things are inconsistent. We bring a native to court and tell him we are going to give him a fair trial according to British law. In effect, he starts out as not guilty of the offence. Shortly after, the police trot out the confession. I invariably protest in court against such confessions being put in. The judge has remarked that the two things are not the same. The confessions have not always been accepted as evidence. Nevertheless, a man stands condemned in spite of the fact that he is not permitted to plead guilty. It is our duty to prove a man guilty, if he is guilty.

87. We are rather altering the law as it applies to others? — Some of the admission are definitely obtained by threats. A native does not understand what is required of him. He willingly says he is guilty, and tells the whole

[End of page 72]

story with a certain amount of glee. In the case of a native murder, be may not see that he has done any wrong, and thinks he is a fine fellow. He thinks he is telling you something it was right for him to do from his point of view. He does not see why he should keep back the fact that he is guilty, and he spills it all out. The police go to him, and something of this kind occurs.

[End of page 73]

The policeman says to the native, “you want to tell me all about the killing business”. He does that to extract an admission. The policeman, as he must do, also says, “Suppose you don’t want to tell me, all right.” The native does not see any harm in telling him and he replies, “I did it all right. Of course I did.” Then the native goes on to tell the policeman why he did it. I suggest that if a white man were to be spoken to by a policeman along those lines in such circumstances, he would naturally shut up like an oyster because he would know that he would have to stand his trial. A white man in those circumstances would not say a word unless there were certain circumstances that might compel him to do so. Natives should not be asked such questions by policemen.

It is our duty to show that the native committed the murder if he did so, and to prove the charge. Here is a case in point. A man named, we shall say, Barney, is arrested on a charge of murder. The policeman says to him, “What you want spear old fellow for?” The native answers the policeman giving the reason why he did it and explains how he did it. Of course he would do so because the native thought he was doing right according to tribal law. The contentions I have raised coincide with our idea that native courts should be established to deal with such cases. I consider the clauses proposed to be embodied in the new legislation are necessary for the protection of the natives in order to give them a fair unbiassed trial. I submit a copy of a minute I seat to my Minister last year dealing with matters I have been referring to including the establishment of native courts (Exhibit No. 23). In every dependency or country where there are natives and in some of the Australian States, special courts have been established to deal with native tribal cases. We propose that special oourts shall be established in Western Australia for a similar purpose. I was asked to give evidence on that subject before the Royal Commission on the Constitution of the Commonwealth in 1927. I did so and since then the matter has been taken up in different parts of Australia and I claim that I was the first to make that suggestion in the interstate of the aborigines.

[End of page 74]

Aboriginal woman and half-caste son of late John McKenzie

State Records Archive
Consignment: 652
Item: 1910/0318
Title: James Isdell. Queensland. Aboriginal woman and half-caste son of late John McKenzie, Frog Hollow

Keywords: Frog Hollow Station, John MacKenzie, James Isdell, Sam Muggleton, McGrath, Beagle Bay, Turkey, Lilly

[Telegram]
18 Mar 1910
Telegram from Halls Creek
To Aborigines Dept, Perth
McKenzie Frog Hollow accidentally shot left Queensland aborigine woman and half-caste son aged four. Also left property cattle horses. What steps advisable secure woman’s return own country if she wishes and sufficient have son brought up Beagle May Mission. Send reply for police assistant. Isdell

[Letter]
18.3.10
Halls Creek
To Chief Protector, Perth
Sir,
Two cases of death of white men have just taken place in Halls Creek district in which natives are slightly interested. John McKenzie was accidentally shot a few days ago at Turkey Creek. He lived at Muggleton’s Frog Hollow Station and was the owner of cattle, horses and some pastoral leases. He had at the station an aboriginal woman belonging to Queensland and a young half-caste boy. I wrote to you about him last year, unfortunately I can not give you the date, as I was compelled to leave a lot of my books at [illegible] as I had no room to carry them back to Halls Creek.
In the winding up of his estate provision should be made to send the woman back to her country and to bring the boy up at Mission Station. The boy is about 4 years old and McKenzie told me he intended to send him south for education as soon as he was 6 years old.
The second case happened a few days after when S Muggleton, owner of Frog Hollow Station, was found the bush, very ill, along with his horse, he was brought home but died shortly after. He is supposed to have had a fall from his horse. On his station are a family of aboriginal girls named McGrath and they own some cattle and horses. Muggleton told me one of the girls had 8 or 9 cattle and another one horses. I also wrote you last year on this matter because the mother of these girls was on the indigent list receiving relief at Halls Creek. Mr Way, the RM, left Halls Creek yesterday to hold inquiry and I gave him notes of both cases, but I thought it advisable that the Department should instruct police or else magistrate to make full inquiries, also that magistrate protect the girls and also woman and child of McKenzie.
I remain, yours obediently,
James Isdell

[Letter]
26.3.11
To Chief Protector, Perth
Sir,
Constable Taylor, Turkey Creek, took 6 half-castes to Wyndham last February, for transmission to Beagle Bay, included amongst them is a son of the late John McKenzie of Frog Hollow. Mr McKenzie left a half share in a cattle station to his brother and he was to look after the boy, but he is a ne’er-do-well and had no money of means of sending the boy away and paying for his keep. As the little boy was being neglected and practically living with aborigines I sent him away. As McKenzie’s estate can well afford to pay for him, what steps had best be taken to compel the brother to do so. The latter does not deny his liability.
Frog Hollow Station is likely to change ownership, and consequently probably new arrangements may have to be made re killing cattle for natives. I previously wrote to the Department with reference to a mare on the station belonging to a half-caste girl (Lilly) sent to Beagle Bay two years ago, but have received no reply. I would suggest that she be sold and proceeds remitted to the Beagle Bay Mission to help pay for the girl’s keep. The mare is old and worth about £8 or £9. Both Turkey and her half-caste son, now grown up, have horses, about 16 in number, but most of them belong to Turkey, who is an aborigine woman belonging to Northern Territory, but has been here for nearly 20 years. In the event of the station changing ownership, there may possibly be some bother over them. I would like to receive full instructions to act on your behalf in protecting the woman’s interest.
I remain, Yours obediently,
James Isdell

[Letter]
318/10
6th May, 1911
To Mr J Isdell
Travelling Protector of Aborigines
Turkey Creek
I beg to acknowledge receipt of your letter of 26th March last, and to inform you that an illegitimate child has no standing in law against the estate of its father.
The brother of the deceased McKenzie could not be compelled to contribute to the support of such a child, and unless he voluntarily assists, the law could not force him to do so.
Chief Protector of Aborigines

[Letter]
Turkey Creek
8.6.11
To Chief Protector of Aborigines, Perth
Sir,
With reference to your letter 318/10, 6th May, re late McKenzie’s illegitimate son, as the father fully acknowledged his son and expressed his intention to me and others to educate and have him taught a trade, and as he died leaving ample property to meet a charge for his upbringing, I should have thought the estate would be liable, if the father is liable when alive (as he would be under the Aborigines Act) then his estate should be liable at his death. The mother, I am afraid, will do little for the boy.
I remain, Yours obediently,
James Isdell

Katitjin Notes:

Questions: What became of John McKenzie’s little boy? What became of Turkey and her cattle? What became of the McGrath girls and their property? Was their legal rights to that property recognised?

Isdell, James (1849-1919)
James Isdell was a pastoralist, parliamentarian, and traveling protector of Aborigines. Although he expresses compassion in his communications in this record, he was more notoriously known for being the instigator of the Canning Stock Route and an “enthusiastic child removalist.” The following quote is from a chapter by Robert Manne, in the book Genocide and settler society: frontier violence and stolen indigenous children in Australian history (2004), edited by A. Dirk Moses:

The most enthusiastic West Australian child removalist in these early days was James Isdell, the former pastoralist and parliamentarian, who was appointed traveling protector for the north in 1907. On 13 Nov 1908, Isdell wrote from the Fitzroy River district to the Chief Inspector, Charles Gale. “I consider it a great scandal to allow any of these half-caste girls to remain with the natives.” On 15 Jan 1909, Gale issued Isdell with the authority to “collect all half-caste boys and girls” and to transport them to Beagle Bay. Isdell expressed his gratitude: “It should have been done years ago.” By May 1909, he was able to report from Wyndham that the entire East Kimberley region had been “cleaned up.”
Isdell was aware that sentimentalists from the south sometimes wrote letters to newspapers “detailing the cruelty and harrowing grief of the mothers.” He regarded such complaints as nonsensical. “Let them visit and reside for a while” in one of the native camps and see for themselves “the open indecency and immorality and hear the vile conversations ordinarily carried on which these young children see, listen to, and repeat.” Isdell did not believe that the Aboriginal mother felt the forcible removal of her child more deeply than did a bitch the loss of a pup. “I would not hesitate,” he wrote, “to separate any half-caste from its Aboriginal mother, no matter how frantic momentary grief might be at the time. They soon forget their offspring.” “All Aboriginal women,” he explained in letters to Gale “are prostitutes at heart” and all Aborigines are “dirty, filthy, immoral.” (Moses 2004, 222-223)

Muggleton, Samuel (1855-1910)
Sam Muggleton, born in NSW, he went to Queensland for 15 years before coming to Western Australia where he lived for 20 years as a stockman and then pastoralist at Frog Hollow, where he worked his stock with John McKenzie and Turkey, an Aboriginal woman from Borroloola in the Northern Territory. Frog Hollow had a reputation for “kindness to Aborigines” in that the workers had some degree of autonomy on the station. More about Sam Muggleton here.
See also Item: 1909/0042

MacKenzie, John
From the West Australian newspaper 16 Mar 1910
Mr John McKenzie, who was killed on Frog Hollow Station, was also an old identity in the district. He had been a stockman, but by hard work had attained a position of some affluence and was a partner with Messrs Cranwell and Yates in a station adjoining Alice Downs. His age was about 53
http://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/26251937

A O Neville’s Evidence Part 17

State Records Office of Western Australia
Microfilm
Acc 2922/1-2
Title: Transcript of evidence 1934
Item 1 & Item 2

Aborigines Royal Commission  005-3

Tuesday, 13th March, 1934

H. D. Moseley, Esq., Commissioner.

AUBUR [sic] OCTAVIUS NEVILLE, Chief Protector of Aborigines, further examined:

[Part 1] [Part 2] [Part 3] [Part 4] [Part 5] [Part 6] [Part 7] [Part 8] [Part 9] [Part 10] [Part 11] [Part 12] [Part 13] [Part 14] [Part 15] [Part 16] Continued…

67. Yesterday I explained the position in regard to accidents, and said that it was proposed to insert in the new Bill a clause to be numbered 33a, as follows:—
“If an aboriginal or half-caste in the service of an employer sustains personal injury arising out of or in the course of his employment, not attributable to his serious or wilful misconduct, and such employment was not of a casual nature, then any expense incurred or defrayed by the department for medical or surgical attendance or for hospital charges in connection with the treatment and maintenance of, or in the case of death the cost of interment of, such aboriginal or half-caste shall be payable by the employer to the Chief Protector and shall be recoverable by action at the suit of the Chief Protector.”
That provision would take the place of any reference to the aboriginal under any other Act of that nature.

68. You are really importing some of the ideas of the Workers’ Compensation Act? — Yes, but there is no compensation.

69. I think it is wise to limit the amount recoverable? — We have tried many times to induce employers to pay ordinary expenses in cases that we say are perfectly clear, and the employers have sometimes refused, simply because there is no power to compel them to pay.

70. Have you ever tried to bring in, as against the employer, the provisions of the Workers’ Compensation Act as they stand? — Only once, and we succeeded.

71. Was it a case of death? It was a case of a lost eye.

72. You have never taken action in the case of death on behalf of dependants? — No, but very often the dependants are handed over to our care.

73. I suppose in many cases the dependants continue to carry on where they have been up to the time of the death? — Yes. The stations continue to look after them, but on the other hand we have to look after them sometimes. Section 34 of the principal Act is also a very important provision, we propose to amend it so as to make it possible for us to take action which is very necessary. The section deals with the liability of a father in the case of an illegitimate native child. In the last paragraph…

[End of page 63]

you will see these words —
“Provided that no man shall he taken to be the father of any such child upon the oath of the mother only.”

74. That is the proviso to paragraph 2? — Yes. Again and again we can get a certain amount of corroborative evidence, and the girl swears that such and such a person is the father of her child; but unless we can get an admission from the person himself, nine times out of ten it is quite hopeless to proceed under that section, and we are sometimes compelled to have recourse to the Child Welfare, which in some respects is not suitable. We propose to delete the proviso in question and insert the following:—
“Provided that no man shall he taken to be the father of any such child upon the evidence of the mother unless her evidence is corroborated in some material particular.”
I think you will find that is the provision in similar Acts here and elsewhere. That will give us a better chance, because there are so many illegitimate children by European fathers that it is necessary to sheet home the responsibility to somebody. The State is maintaining numbers of children that it has no right whatever to be maintaining at the present time. In many cases we know who the fathers are, but we can take no action. Incidentally, some of the fathers are married men, and some of the girls or women have more than one child by the same man. The father simply ignores any action which the department might wish to take, because he knows that it is impossible for us to take any action under that section. We do succeed sometimes by, perhaps, more or less bluffing men into admissions; and of course the married man is in an awkward position and does not want his wife to hear about these things, and so he admits paternity and pays up. It is the single young waster, without any responsibility at all, who simply seduces these girls at his pleasure. I shall have to refer to that matter again under Section 43.

75. Section 36 of the principal Act deals with persons entering places where natives and half-castes are camped. A small amendment is suggested, to substitute the word “aborigine” for the word “aborigine” in the fifth line; but that is only to bring…

[End of page 64]

about consistency. The important amendment is to add after the word “camp” in the fifth line the words “living, resorting or staying”. It sometimes happens that a man will take a half-caste girl to a boarding house or hotel.

76. The word “camp” suggests camps only, and not other places? — Yes. “Camp” is not wide enough.

77. There will be a further consequential amendment in the second paragraph of that section. After the word “camp” in the third line of the paragraph to insert the words “or place”? — Yes. As regards Section 37, the word “aboriginal” should be substituted for “aborigine”. In Section 38 I propose the insertion of the words “or half-caste” after the word “aboriginal” whenever the same appears. That also is consequential. In Section 39 I propose another consequential amendment, “aboriginal” to take the place of “aborigine” whenever the latter word occurs. It is proposed to amend Section 40 by inserting the words “or female half-caste” after the word “aboriginal” in the first line. When this Act was framed it was thought only necessary to provide that an aboriginal woman should not be legally married to any other person without the consent of the Chief Protector. Again the framers of the Act forgot the half-caste altogether. Again and again we find unsuitable marriages proposed. We have had marriages with Asiatics suggested. We have had marriages between half-caste girls and unsuitable and low-classed unemployed whites. In fact, we have had all sorts of complications, some of which have been brought about by missionaries. For the last 25 years or so the missionaries have been seeking to marry their inmates to someone or other, and those marriages have not always been suitable or successful or desirable. It is contended that the Chief Protector should have power to prohiblt unsuitable marriages, particularly nowadays when such marriages are very much on the increase. In point of fact, I have induced a good many persons who are licensed to celebrate marriages to communicate with me before such proposed marriages take place. In some cases I have been able to prevent…

[End of page 65]

alliances, while in others I have readily agreed, I consider it is absolutely necessary that the Chief Protector should have this power to prevent alliances which might lead to tragedy. As I said yesterday, the missionary does not always take cognisance of tribal laws, and breaches of these laws, or what seem breaches, to them do not appear to be breaches of any law. It is consequently necessary for someone with knowledge of the culture of the aborigines to safeguard these people in this way. It is a vital provision, and this matter has given us a vast deal sf trouble.

78. I do not know that you have yet mentioned the proposed amendment. I take it the amendment is to insert “female half-caste” after the word “aboriginal” in the first-line? — Yes, and presumably “any other person who may be covered by the Act in future”. In Section 42 I propose the insertion after the word “aboriginal” of the words” or half-caste”, and the omission of the words “other than an aboriginal” in the second line. I seek to control marriages between the natives themselves for the same reason, that the natives have broken down their own culture.

79. Any marriage of any native? — Yes, to anyone else. The natives are intermarrying at the present time in a way which is utterly undesirable. That is largely due, as I said previously, to missionary effort which tries to get people married under certain circumstances.

[End of page 66]

I must go back to Section 40. I wish to insert the words “or female half-castes” after the word “aboriginal” in the first line. To be consistent this is necessary. The same thing
applies to section 41. It does not often occur, but it has occurred in recent years, that female half-castes are increasing in numbers accompany aborigines to the creeks in the pearling districts to meet Asiatics. Now we come to the bone of contention, Section 43. As you will see in the first line of that section there is no mention of half-castes at all; the whole section omits half-castes.

80. On the assumption, I suppose, by the draftsman that “half-castes” come within the definition of aborigines? — The section also contains the word “cohabit” in the third and eighth lines. In 1924 I found in the North-West a white man having intercourse with more than one female aboriginal on the station he was managing. On referring the matter to the Solicitor General, Mr. Sayer, he ruled that that man was not c0-habiting, he was merely having intercourse. Mr. Sayer referred me to Webster’s dictionary, which stated that “cohabit” meant “to live together as man and wife”. The effect of that ruling has been almost entirely to prevent me from taking action in numerous cases ever since. We know that men do have intercourse with native women. We are told again and again that such-and-such a man is doing so. we find that from evidence we may possess that that is so in certain cases and yet we can take no action under the section in question because the man is not living with the woman. She may visit him occasionally, or he may visit her, but according to Mr. Sayer’s ruling he is not cohabiting. Since that ruling was given we have had 26 cases of the kind in which we have taken action, but we have been able to get conviction in only five. People often wonder why the dept does not take action in certain cases. it is no use trying to explain to the public that we have no legal power to take action, but the fact remains that we have not that power to take action in certain cases. In the Far…

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North it is said to be more or less customary for men to live with the native women. It certainly is so in certain places but, as I have said, the dept cannot step in and take action beyond removing the woman, or perhaps prohibiting the man from employing natives. Such action is sometimes taken for the sake of the community generally, but I sometimes find that when I take away a man’s permit because, on very good grounds, I suspect him of doing wrong, there is a hullabulloo and his permit is soon restored to him. I shall hand in the file containing that ruling because I consider it of importance. The number of the file is
195/24. (Exhibit 21).

81. Has the draftsman put up a proposed amendment ? — Before I give you the amendment I wish to point out that “half-castes” are omitted from that section. That might have been all right when the Act was framed, but it is not all right today, as you know, there are hundreds of half-caste females now and a great many of them are not living with aborigines, while others are sent out by the dept to work. It is no offence for anyone to cohabit or have intercourse with these half-castes. The half-caste girl — very often a young girl — is utterly unsophisticated. She does not know right from wrong, very often; neither does she know the consequences of her action and she becomes a ready victim to the low-class — and not always the low-class — white man. We know that these men are constantly chasing the half-castes and yet we cannot protect the girls. A man will mark down one of these girls as his prey and hang on to her until he achieves his purpose. Yet we cannot interfere. We must allow these girls a certain amount of liberty, and these things take place in all sorts of ways. The offspring of the Europeans and half-caste girls or women are increasing in numbers and the State has to support them because there are no means by which we can make the father pay maintenance. Very often the girls themselves do not know who the fathers are. Perhaps a man is introduced or meets a girl in the evening and the…

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girl goes off with him then and there. A few examples in the court would soon put a stop to that sort of thing, but we have not any power to take action. Therefore, it is proposed to amend Section 43 in the following way:-
By deleting Subsection (1) and inserting in lieu thereof a new subsection as follows:-
“Any person except an aboriginal or half-caste who habitually lives with an aborigines or half-castes or with any aboriginal or half-caste not his wife or husband or who cohabits with or has sexual intercourse with any aboriginal or half-caste who is not his wife or her husband shall be guilty of an offence again at this Act.”
You will find a similar provision in the Northern Territory Ordinance, although in the older States of Australia this state of affairs has been more or less ignored with disastrous results.
“Every male person who is an aboriginal or half-caste and who without permission in writing from a Protector lives or resides with or travels accompanied by a female aboriginal or half-caste, or vice versa, shall be presumed in the absence of proof to the contrary to be cohabiting with her or him and it shall be presumed in the absence of proof to the contrary that she is not his wife or that he is not her husband.”
I am having a comprehensive statement of cases prepared for you extending over a number of years, showing incidents that have taken place and the action of the dept and the impossibility of doing anything to remedy matters. I take it that that statement will be regarded as confidential as it necessarily contains names and addresses.

82. The liquor section of the Act, as we call it, Section 45, has always caused confusion because it does not coincide with the liquor sections of the Licensing Act, or rather the sections in that Act which refer to aborigines and half-castes.

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A O Neville’s Evidence Part 16

State Records Office of Western Australia
Microfilm
Acc 2922/1-2
Title: Transcript of evidence 1934
Item 1 & Item 2

Aborigines Royal Commission  005-3

Tuesday, 13th March, 1934

H. D. Moseley, Esq., Commissioner.

AUBUR [sic] OCTAVIUS NEVILLE, Chief Protector of Aborigines, further examined:

[Part 1] [Part 2] [Part 3] [Part 4] [Part 5] [Part 6] [Part 7] [Part 8] [Part 9] [Part 10] [Part 11] [Part 12] [Part 13] [Part 14] [Part 15]Continued…

007-3
Section 3 of the Act really provides which of those coloured persons is deemed to be an aboriginal, but it goes only a very little way, and so it is proposed to add after “Australia”, in paragraph (a), the words “of full blood or of not less than three-quarter blood of the aboriginal race of Australia”. You can have an octoroon aboriginal.

59. It involves quite a complex collection?—Yes, it is almost impossible. Then, by striking out paragraph (d), which refers to a half-caste child whose age apparently does not exceed 16 years, and by striking out all words after “express” in line 11.

60. That is the last paragraph of the section?—Yes. And we add instead “and includes any person of aboriginal blood in any degree deemed by the Minister to come within the meaning of this section”. The Minister can decide that any coloured person shall be deemed to be an aboriginal if he has aboriginal blood in him. That is the only provision which enables us to get over the whole of the coloured difficulty. That provision, I believe, has been made in the Northern Territory Ordinances. Section 4 is merely a consequential amendment, substituting the words “aboriginals and half-castes” for the word “aborigines”. It may be necessary to include the words “or persons subject to this Act” because I do not think the proposed words cover the coloured person entirely. Now the same applies to Section 6. Section 8 is very important. It defines who shall be wards of the Chief Protector. Under the old section every aboriginal and half-caste ohild were wards until 16 years of age. But “aboriginal” in that section, according to a ruling of the Crown
Law Dept, meant only “aboriginal” as defined in Section 2, not as defined in Section 3. It also excluded the rights of the mother of an illegitimate half-caste ohild, but did not exclude the rights of persons legally married, many of whom have no more idea of how to look after their ohildren than has the mother of an illegitimate child. Marriage, as we understand it, with the natives is

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something new. When the Act was passed there was no such thing as legal marriage amongst the natives, and so it was thought there would not be any difficulty in taking away the children of persons legally married. It is necessary that such power should be given for the sake of the children, and so this section is amended by inserting before the word “until” in line 2, the words “notwithstanding that the child has a parent or other relative living”. We also substitute the words “twenty-one” for the word “sixteen”; in other words we raise the guardianship age to 21. It is 18 in the Child Welfare Act and 21 in the Northern Territory Ordinances. It is very necessary that it should be made 21. We train our youngsters and send them out to employment, and when they have attained the age of 16, except in the matter of permits, they can snap their fingers at us … and they do. A half-caste boy or girl of 16 is certainly not competent to look after himself or herself. Constant trouble is occurring through this, and all the years of work we have spent on some of these children is thrown away because the guardianship age ceases at 16. This is a vital provision. In Section 9 the alteration is simply consistent with the previous section; the words “twenty-one” are used instead of “sixteen” in the first paragraph. At present a half-caste boy over 16, who does not live as a native, is not subject to employment under permit at all. It is very difficult to draw the line there. Section 12 of the Act gives power for the Minister to remove any aboriginal from one district to another, or to keep him within the boundaries of a reserve, etc. “District” is mentioned and so it is important that a district be defined. That refers only to the aboriginal, whereas very often it is a half-caste that requires to be removed. Under that section there is no power for the Chief Protector to remove a native suffering from disease to a hospital if he refuses to go. There has been an amendment of the Health Act authorising a medical man, if requested by the Chief Protector, to visit such a native and order him to hospital, but there is

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no power to compel that native to go. It is necessary that the department should have power to treat a native and convey him to hospital willy-nilly. So in that section we insert the words “or half-caste” after “aboriginal”. Presumably, after further consideration, it will include also the words “coloured persons generally”. Then, by inserting after “reserve”, in line 2, the words “settlement or other place, or to be removed to and kept in a hospital”. We have got over that difficulty a little by declaring the areas on which some of the hospitals are stationed to be reserves, but it is a very awkward method. Then we insert after “district” wherever it occurs in lines 3, 6 and 12, the words “or settlement or other place or hospital”. That is consequential.

61. “Settlement” is not used in the existing Act?—No, it was not thought of.

62. Then you had better tell them what “settlement” means?—Yes, it could be included under “Aboriginal institution”. It should include any institution conducted by the department or a mission. Of course it is provided that the Governor may proclaim any institution to come under the Act. Now it is proposed to insert a new section to stand as Section 13A as follows :— “The Chief Protector may appoint persons with authority to examine aborigines or half-castes suspected of being afflicted with disease, and to compel such aborigines or half-castes by such force as may be necessary to undergo examination or treatment accordingly”. There is at present no power to compel any native to submit himself or herself for examination. They frequently refuse to be examined. They run away from any person who they think is going to examine them, particularly if there is something the matter with them. A native never thinks he is sick until he has some pain. It is necessary that my officers should be in a position to examine natives when necessary. Frequently I have had to refuse to undertake examinations in various parts of the country because I had not this power.

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Those two sections give us all the authority necesaary to examine natives and put them in hospital. Once they enter hospital they find that the conditions are not as bad as they expected , and usually they respond to the treatment very well. Section 15 should be amended by inserting after the word “aboriginal” wherever it occurs the words “or half-caste”. It is essential that half-castes should be included because so many of the inmates of reserves and settlements are half-castes. A further amendment to Section 15 is the addition of a new paragraph reading —
“Harbours, transports or otherwise assists an aboriginal or half-caste in or after his removal.”
Runaways from our settlements are often picked up by itinerant lorry drivers, and taken to Perth or other places, and such runaways are sometimes harboured and fed. That adds considerably to our difficulties in recovering them. We desire power to proceed against such persons.

63. Section 17 should be amended by substituting the words “twenty-one” for the word “fourteen” to be consistent with what has already been suggested. Section 18 should be amended by inserting the words “aboriginals or half-castes” instead of the word “aborigines” in line 10, and the words “or half-caste” after the word “aboriginal” in line 13. We are seeking to include half-castes in numerous sections where they are not now mentioned. The reasons for this have already been given. Section 21 should be amended by substituting the words “twenty-one” for the word “fourteen”.

64. In Section 22, the words “twenty-one” should be substituted for “sixteen”. It would be quite inconsistent to leave the section as it is and amend the guardianship age. In Section 27, a consequential amendment is necessary, “twenty-one” being substituted for “sixteen”.

65. Section 28 refers to the powers of protectors in respect

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of demanding permits; In other words, investigating the position between employer end employee, I wish to include after “police officer” in paragraphs 1 and 2 the words “or officer appointed by the Chief Protector.” We have a number of girls in service and a number of youngsters in different forms of employment, and I may desire to employ a woman officer, possibly one attached to head office now, who could trovel around and make the necessary inspections and inquiries. At present there is no power to do that.

66. Section 33 is very important because it covers matters connected with the general care and protection of the property of aborigines and half-castes, but it is deficient in certain necessary provisions. We propose the insertion of a new paragraph 3 as follows : —
“Require a statement of all monetary transactions between the aboriginal and half-caste and any other person for the preceding three years, and such other person shall supply such statement to the Chief Protector on demand.”
Now and again I am appealed to by aborigines and half-castes to assist them in claiming the wages due to them. Their claims are not always right; in fact, they are more often wrong than right, but at present we have not sufficient power to compel an employer to disclose the transactions between the native and himself. Sometimes we find that the native has been taken down considerably, and we are perhaps able to get the matter rectified. In the event of any employer refusing to supply a statement, we have no redress. Another part of this clause presents difficulties. The proviso reads —
“Provided that the powers conferred by this section shall not be exercised without the consent of the aboriginal or half-caste, etc.”
We propose to insert after “exercised” the words “except in the case of minors”. I have known of instances of young children having been left considerable amounts of money, and the department has had no power to safeguard the money and it has simply been squandered. In some instances, sums running into thousands of pounds have been involved. If the aboriginal or half-caste…

[End of page 61]

says he desires to look after his own affairs, we have no redress under that section, but we think we should have control in the case of minors. A further paragraph should be added as follows:-
“Any person who fails to supply a statement of account when required by the Chief Protector s0 to do and any person who wilfully makes any false statement in any such statement of account shall be guilty of an offence against this Act.”
Still another paragraph is desired —
“The Chief Protector may expend or apply any money in his possession or standing to the credit of any aboriginal or half-caste for his maintenance education advancement or benefit.”
Moneys in the way of wages and from other sources come into our possession. We hold those moneys for our charges, and expenditure is incurred in looking after them, boarding them, clothing them, etc. Though we actually do it through necessity, we have no power to withdraw money from their accounts and use it for those purposes without obtaining their consent on each occasion. To do that is not always possible because the individuals concerned may not be near us; they may be absent in the country.

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