State Records Office of Western Australia
Title: Transcript of evidence 1934
Item 1 & Item 2
Aborigines Royal Commission 005-3
Monday, 12th March, 1934
H. D. Moseley, Esq., Commissioner.
AUBUR [sic] OCTAVIUS NEVILLE, Chief Protector of Aborigines, sworn and examined:
Both places were established on the original corroborree grounds of the natives of these larger tribal districts. The natives were delighted that these sites had been chosen. It was not economy to close Carolup. In the South-West we are spending nearly £3,500 in rationing, medical supplies, burials, etc. Shortly after Carolup was established there was no rationing in the South-west outside the settlement. In any case the settlement should not be a matter of cost; the benefit to the natives must first be considered. Taking it by and large we can run a settlement as economically as we can ration the natives outside. Supplies consumed at the settlements are bought at contract prices, and we are generally able to provide then at a more reasonable rate than by means of contracts in the districts themselves. In my opinion Carolup should be re-established. One has to consider the prejudices of the natives in a matter of settlement. When Carolup was closed a number of people were removed to Moore River. That was a great mistake. The older people continually complained, and many died there. These natives regarded it as a foreign country. An outstanding trait amongst the natives is that they prefer their home country, and will not go out of it if they can avoid it. There should be one or two smaller subsidiary places; one to the eastward south of Merredin, and the other to the westward nearer the coast. The main idea is to have these places situated in the main tribal districts. The functions of these institutions are to provide homes for the aged, the orphans, the workless, training places for the youngsters, medical supervision and hospital attendance, nursing, education, and religious instruction. They are the places that will succeed above all else in bridging the gulf between the black and the white. They teach discipline, and imbue the natives with the self-respect that is rapidly being lost. The people themselves know it. They realise that the settlements are their salvation.
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I am continually being asked by natives in the South-West when Carolup is to be restored. There are enough half-caste children on stations and elsewhere to fill a large institution. I put in the Carolup file No. 65/29. I want you to see how a place, the restoration of which has been approved by the Government and the money promised, can be thrown back by reason of outside interference. No matter where you establish a native settlement, there is bound to be someone who will raise objections. We have to consider the greatest good of the community in general. We have natives squatting around the different towns in the South-West. We have to consider whether it is not better to disregard the imaginary sufferings of a few farmers, and establish these places whether they like them or not. The institutions have been of no detriment to any district in which they have been established. On the contrary, to some extent they have been sources of revenue. It is not proposed that the settlements should be regarded as prisons; the natives come and go, the workers leave their families and their children remain at school. We are able to find work for those who want it and send them out to it. For a long time past I have been unable to supply the demand for young boys and girls for farms and stations. If I had 20 ready to go out from Moore River tomorrow, I could place them all. You cannot take the material in the camps and send it out to work because the youngsters are not fit for work. It has been very hard for us to watch institutions for the whites progressing and at the same time to be losing part of what little we had managed to acquire for the aborigines. All the buildings at Carolup are ready to be occupied, as they were. They are constructed mainly of granite, and were built in the course of a few years, mostly by native labour under the supervision of white men. Failing the provision of such settlements, the condition of the boys and girls in the camps will be pitiable in the extreme. The children are under-fed and ill-fed.
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I shudder to think what their future will be if they are not taken in hand. I put in an interesting reporte (Exhibit 10) written by Dr. Cilento, who has been in charge of the Commonwealth Tropical Diseases Laboratory in North Queensland, and who was recently loaned to the Queensland Govt to make a survey of the native people. I received this report a week ago. Dr. Cilento says precisely what I have been saying for years. It is most extraordinary how his recommendations and mine dovetail. I do not know whether the report is public property as yet, but I have seen references to it in London journals.
23. In the North we have three cattle stations, Moola Bulla, Munja and Violet Valley. Violet Valley is a small place, but it is of importance to the natives because it reaches out to the interior and to those beyond the Durack Ranges. We have 15 bulk supply depots, eight under Govt officers, and seven cared for by station managers or owners who are kindly assisting us. To these places we send bulk supplies. Years ago there was a system by which station managers were paid 6d. per head per day for rationing Indigent natives. That system was so much abused that it had to be done away with.
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