education

A O Neville’s Evidence Part 10

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

Monday, 12th March, 1934

H. D. Moseley, Esq., Commissioner.

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

[Part 1] [Part 2] [Part 3] [Part 4] [Part 5] [Part 6] [Part 7] [Part 8] [Part 9] Continued…

I personally did discover, in years gone by, the names of dead natives still on the list as being fed, or being paid for. We hold, particularly in the far North, a number of large reserves. Some of these are held for stations, and others for the future use of natives. The reason for the establishment of cattle stations was, briefly, the fact that in years gone by the natives killed the settlers’ cattle to a large extent, and that the authorities were at their wit’s end to know what to do to prevent this. They used to gaol the aborigines, and the police were always out chasing cattle killers. Moola Bulla was established in 1911. Prior to that the State was spending about £10,000 a year in bringing natives to justice and keeping them in gaol. In 1903 there were 314 natives in gaol, and in 1909 there were 369. As soon as the native stations were established, the killing began to decline. Wherever the stations have influence today, there is no cattle killing at all. There may be an odd case, once or twice in a year; but the killing has practically ceased, and the cost now is infinitely less than it was in those days.
24. The stations, of course, are not expected to pay, and in fact do not pay; but they are run at a very limited cost and earn quite a lot of money, which goes into the Treasury. The average annual cost of a station like Moola Bulla is about £800, whereas the average annual cost of a place like Moore River is about £4,000. The cattle stations are a very cheap means of settling the native difficulty. Those stations are sanctuaries to which all the natives repair whenever they want to. They sit down for a few weeks, enjoy as much meat as they can eat, and then go off again. But always the principle is adopted that the natives have to do some work before they are fed. The question of native stations is very important to the North. They extend along the whole coastline…

[End of page 27]
…of our State, and practically to Queensland.

25. There has been poaching by aliens along that coast for many years, and the aliens have been in contact with the natives. They have introduced Asiatic diseases, and altogether their association with natives has been most undesirable. Huge reserves for aborigines are quite useless unless adequately protected, and they cannot be protected by regulation alone. There must be somebody there in authority to safeguard them. There are always men of an adventurous turn of mind travelling around the coast, both foreign and British, ever indifferent to the risk of their lives. They treat lightly any possible danger from natives. Unfortunately it is these men that have done the harm, harm which is aggravated by the further necessity for police intervention. A spirit of antagonism has been raised up between the natives on the one part and the gospel of putting in the boot on the other. This mutual antagonism will remain wherever natives are numerous, and probably it will become more serious unless steps are taken to improve the position. I foresee constant friction and probably a repetition of some of those regrettable incidents which we have read about lately, and which discredit the name of Australia abroad. It is too late to shut the door after the horse has gone out. We have even had the occupation of these reserves of ours by whites within recent years, without any knowledge of the authorities whatever. There is nothing to prevent persons from landing and establishing themselves in freelance fashion on the reserves, possibly to the ultimate embarrassment of the department end the Government.

26. The one authority which the natives readily recognise is the Government, not as exemplified by the police, whom they classify as something apart, but as exemplified by the agencies established by the department, specially created for the natives. The Aborigines Department have to bridge the gulf between the two factions, and there is not any other agency…

[End of page 28]

…which can do it equally well or gain the confidence of the natives to the same extent. It is my view that on every reserve of any magnitude there should be a Government native station such as those we possess in the North. Some of these stations should be large, some just big enough to suit local requirements, and others mere depots. The managers of these stations are picked men, married, living with their wives; and so far as we are concerned the sites for these places are co-terminous with the tribal districts. These managers are trusted by the natives, and respected by them. They do their duty without fear or favour, and are of a type mostly found in the North — virile, capable, resourceful. At Munja Station on the west the natives will carry the sick 200 miles so that the manager may tend them.

27. You mean their own sick people ? — Yes. Should that manager require to admonish a native for wrong-doing, he simply sends a message to the man to come in and the man comes in and submits to his punishment. The oldest-established native customs, such as the promising of children of tender years to old men already possessed of wives, are giving way under our system, and family life is being restored on those stations and children arc increasing there. My point is that if the department concerned with the welfare and protection of the natives gets in first and establishes its relations with the natives, that is the proper and indeed the only way to be adopted for policing those large areas, or rather I should say caring for the natives in those unsettled areas. We should get in first, so to speak. We have to pave the way for white settlers, and in the process we have to see that a fair deal is given to the natives. The money that is spent on the apprehension of wrong-doers, on the search for missing whites, and on maintenance of remote police stations might be better spent on the provision and upkeep of these outposts.

[End of page 29]

26. Coastal stations should have a vessel attached to them, provided with auxiliary power and with a wireless receiving or transmitting set. Since the native stations were established in the Kimberleys and the method of dealing with cattle killers was altered, a number of police stations have been closed there, and thus there has been some reduction in the police force stationed in the Kimberleys. Before Munja was established there had been a number of murders of whites, and probably of blacks too, but mostly of whites so far as we know, in the area north of Munja. Since the station was established, there has been nothing of the kind, and the natives are rapidly becoming accustomed to whites; in fact, settlement is increasing. Before that the few isolated settlers had to get out. Now you can go anywhere in that country with comparative safety. The native station is better than the police station, so far as the North is concerned. However, I do not deprecate the wonderful work the police have done. They have been only obeying orders and using traditional methods. I think those methods should give place to others which do not create hostility in the native mind and which in the end succeed in bringing about order and goodwill, and even-handed justice to white and black alike. I do not want to reflect upon the missionaries in what I have said. The missionary is doing good work, and the department can use him as its agent. But, generally speaking, this work is beyond the means and facilities of missionary endeavour, and is the Government ‘s job.

29. What I want to emphasise is that the voice of authority is the only voice which the natives will regard. These northern stations of ours have not got the institutional character of the southern settlements. The natives on the northern stations have an unrestricted life, and the stations are very popular with them. Whether the institutional element will have to come in at a later date I do not know.

[End of page 30]

I fancy it will, because we have the half-caste children brought in from other stations, and those children have to be cared for and educated. The life on those northern stations is the life which the natives themselves understand.

[End of page 31]

A O Neville’s Evidence Part 9

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

Monday, 12th March, 1934

H. D. Moseley, Esq., Commissioner.

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

[Part 1] [Part 2] [Part 3] [Part 4] [Part 5] [Part 6] [Part 7] [Part 8] Continued…

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.

[End page 24]

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.

[End page 25]

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.

[End page 26]

A O Neville’s Evidence Part 8

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

Monday, 12th March, 1934

H. D. Moseley, Esq., Commissioner.

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

[Part 1] [Part 2] [Part 3] [Part 4] [Part 5] [Part 6] [Part 7] Continued…

Again I contend that a travelling medical man attached to the department could find out these things, and treatment would be provided as far as possible, and the work would be continuous. There should be hospitals with at least one trained nurse at all the native stations and missions. Needless to say additional accommodation of a similar nature is required in the South West. Government hospitals are few and far between.
They are more or less open to the natives, but maternity cases are not taken in. Committee hospitals will not take natives unless they can possibly help it. I dislike asking the medical department to insist on the admission of all to these hospitals, whether the patients be black, brown or brindle. Personally I do not wonder at the reluctance of the hospitals to take in native patients owing to the unsatisfactory condition in which those natives are at the present time. The only policy is to give them their own hospitals attached to the native settlements.

20. A matter that is bound to come before you in the course of your investigations is the question of medical treatment afforded by pastoralists and employers, mostly in the North; likewise the question of the Workers’ Compensation Act. Our own regulations provide that medicines and medical attendance where practicable and necessary, shall be provided. In working these regulations we generally allow a fortnightly limit. If a native becomes sick it is considered a fair thing for a station to look after that native for a fortnight or thereabouts. If it should be a case of pneumonia which means a long stay in hospital, we would probably make the period longer. Whenever a native station does what we consider a fair thing, we continue the treatment ourselves. Sometimes the patient is in hospital for a month, and in such circumstances we cannot expect the station to pay. All the same the department is called upon to pay in cases where we contend the stations should pay. As far as V. D. is concerned that is entirely a financial responsibility of the department, no matter where the trouble occurs, but we contend that the station might reasonably send the patient into hospital which they refuse

[End page 21]

to do in many cases. They simply notify us and we have to incur heavy expense in getting the cases in. Sometimes we find it is not V. D. at all. This particular question in a burning one as far as the stations are concerned, and we have been seeking a solution of it, not only for the sake of the stations but for the natives themselves. I recently suggested that we should adopt the new regulation framed under the Northern Territory Ordinance. A medical fund is established and to that fund all stations contribute. That enables the department to treat sick natives from time to time, and the stations are relieved of the responsibility. The payment of a hospital tax does not affect the question; it does not relieve the employers of any liability in regard to medical costs. As the native is not liable to make contributions, because he is only petting a small wage, somebody has to pay. The Act does not allow for free treatment. I put in File No. 72/32 dealing with the question of medical and hospital fees by pastoralists.(Exhibit 7)

21. Natives are workers within the meaning of the Compensation Act. That was ruled by Mr. Sayer some time ago. So far as I know only one claim has been paid to a native, and that was for the loss of an eye. The native got a small amount because the department went to law and proved its case. As a matter of fact we eventually compromised and accepted a smaller amount than that provided in the schedule of the Act. Apparently the framers of the Workers’ Compensation Act never thought of the natives and the position that might arise if they became workers within the meaning of the Act. A former Government instructed me not to take proceedings under that Act, but to take any action otherwise that I could. I prefer the Queensland system. It is that natives all being workers under the Workers’ Oomwnensation Act, the Chief Protector acts as their agent and any compensation payable is paid to him for the benefit of the natives. In that case I think there would have to be a special schedule dealing with accidents to natives. Most of
the stations, as far as I know, have insured their natives in accordance with the provisions of the Act. I submit Pile No.473/25 dealing with accident cases (Exhibit 8). In our proposed amending legislation there is a clause which will cover this. It will render an employer liable to pay expenses in the case of an accident.

[End page 22]

22. I take it that paragraph (e), dealing with native settlements, refers to all types of settlement which the dept controls, including cattle stations in the North, and reserves, but not native camps. In that part of the State below Geraldton and west of Merredin there is only one native settlement now. I refer to Moore River, eight wiles west of Mogumber and 80 miles from Perth on the Midland line. To this place orphans, indigents not otherwise provided for, and others for many reasons, have been sent from time to time. The place is not ideal. It only partly effects its purpose owing to the lack of accommodation. There are no facillties for vocational training, no accessories of any kind, and no workshops, but there is a sewing room where all the clothes for all the natives are made. The place is doing good work. It is turning a lot of raw material, particularly youngsters, into something a little better, and enabling them to earn their own living outside. Had these youngsters been left in the camps, they would never have reached the stage they have now reached. They are responding well. We had another settlement in the South known as Carolup, between Katanning and Kojonup. This was closed by order of the Minister in 1922 as a measure of economy. Carolup was opened in 1915 and Moore River in 1917. In my view it was false economy to close Carolup. I was away in the North at the time. When I was appointed Secretary for the North-West, the southern aborigines were removed from my control, and a Deputy Chief Protector was appointed. It was during that time that Carolup was closed. There was a deliberate policy underlying the establishment of these two stations. Moore River was intended to absorb the lndigents in the Midlands, and take in any youngsters from further north who required a drier and a warmer climate. Carolup was established further south to take the people between Perth and Albany, and those living eastward and south of the Greater Western railway towards the border. The stations were interchangeable in regard to staff and inmates. if an inmate became unruly in one place, a change to another would often have a beneficial effect.

[End of page 23]

A O Neville’s Evidence – Part 5

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

Monday, 12th March, 1934

H. D. Moseley, Esq., Commissioner.

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

[Part 1] [Part 2] [Part 3] [Part 4] Continued…

Medical attendance is provided by the department as far as possible and we pay for it where it is necessary to pay. The old system of D.M.Os. has disappeared and we now hare subsidised medical men, or independent medical men. Where a man is subsidised he is expected to attend to indigent natives, and where he is not we have to pay him for it. As for hospital accommodation, there is practically none for natives in the South. We have a hospital at the Moore River settlement which does a good deal of work for the Midlands. South of the Eastern Goldfields line there is no hospital for natives at all. There are only a few Government hospitals left, they are nearly all committee hospitals subsidised by the Medical Dept. [who] now take maternity oases. These committee hospitals are loth to accept native cases and it is, in fact, impossible to find accommodation for a maternity case.

There are in the country certain good women, matrons and nurses, who are willing to, and who do, go out into native camps and look after those oases. The native of today is not the native of 50 years ago and some of the native women suffer intensely in childbirth. They have lost all the old stamina of the black and they have considerable difficulty in bringing children into the world, possibly because of their mixed blood. Camp life as it exists is bringing them lower and lower. They hardly bother to put up any shelter nowadays, perhaps only a few branches thrown together, and they live like that year in and year out, gambling and, where possible, drinking, and doing many other things they ought not to. Immorality is growing, the old tribal laws have broken down, and there is nothing to check the young men and young women. Girls of tender years arc being seduced. These young men and girls are unemployed all day and are rapidly becoming unemployable. Unsuitable alliances are being contracted, incest is about and youthful depravity is general. It is impossible to use this material to send out to employment even when employment is offered. Only the other day I brought two young men to Perth from a camp in the South-West, but when I told them where I wanted them to go

[End of page 13]

to be employed, they point-blank refused, saying they preferred to stay in camp. There is a certain amount of prostitution in the South-West, but not a great deal and a certain amount of drinking which is growing. There is a lot of fighting between different factions. The people are forming themselves into tribes again, families are becoming tribal, and one faction will readily attack another. I have dealt with these matters in my report for 1931-32. I have brought with me two volumes of reports and also an index which I will hand in to you directly. We are suffering now from the consequences of failure to carry out the department’s plans and recommendations of the past. Had we had a free hand, these things would not be taking place today.

Measures for amelioration include improved and increased diet, more clothing and blankets, more departmental control of individuals, provision to enable the appointment of inspectors, the establishment of further settlements and stations, and the amendment of the Aborigines Act, increasing the powers of the Chief Protector in regard to guardianship and other measures. The mover of the resolution which brought about this Commission said the department had not a policy. Actually, the department has had a very complete policy for years, but it has been impossible to carry out that policy.

12. Your reports from time to time will show the policy of the department, and, presumably, that it has not been able to carry out the policy has been referred to in those reports?—-Yes.

13. Probably you have been hampered by lack of funds?
Yes, and by lack of legislation. The matter of education is very important. Only very few coloured children are permitted to attend a State school and then probably only because that school needs those children to maintain its numbers so that it can remain in existence. There has been a lot of trouble lately about the Wagin school in particular, references to which have been published in the Press. I am going to hand in the file (Exhibit 1-2), which will give the history of that. Only about 10 per cent of the native children

[End of page 14]

in the State are being educated at present. Recently I made inquiries in the Eastern States,to find out what was being done there. You will see a report by the Inspector and a summary on page 50 of File 231/33 (Exhibit 1-3). The conclusions I have drawn are that not nearly so many native children are being educated throughout Australia as there should be. Schools for native children are desirable, and the education of natives should be vested in the department primarily concerned for their welfare. We have a school at the Moore River settlement which has over 100 children and we have at Moola Bulla a school where there are 40 children and there are schools at the various missions. There are no other schools for natives. Many people think the natives should not be educated. Whatever may be thought about the full-blooded aboriginal, there can be no question about the necessity for educating coloured people. If you send a youngster out to work, he should be able to read sufficiently well to read letters sent to him and to read his engagement with his employer, and he should be able to reply to letters and to count his wages. If we can bring these youngsters up to the third or fourth standard, we are satisfied. I have had very little experience of white schools, but I can say there is little difference between educating one of these coloured people and a white child; some are bright and some are dull. Some at the age of 14 get the wanderlust, and it is no use g keeping them at school any longer. But education is an absolute necessity if those children are to hold their own in life at all. There is a strong objection in the South-West to native children going to school with white children. The only solution is the establishment of native schools, preferably at native settlements. The whole psychology of the native child differs from that of a white child, and only those accustomed to handling natives understand that difference. The native as a child cannot hold his own amongst a lot of white children. His inferiority complex is too self-evident and he suffers in consequence. But when he reaches 21 years of age that disappears.

[End of page 15]

A O Neville’s Evidence Pt 1

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

Monday, 12th March, 1934

H. D. Moseley, Esq., Commissioner.

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

1. BY THE COMMISSIONER: You expressed a desire to give evidence at this stage of the preceedings. Will you now do so? —I have been Chief Protector of Aborigines since early in 1915. As shown in the last annual report of the department, there are 29,021 natives within this State. Of these approximately 15,134 represent full-bloods, 3,891 are of mixed colour, and a large number of the latter are half-castes. The conditions vary according to the part of the State in which the people reside. The rest of the State cannot be judged by the South-West, nor can the South-West be judged by the position in the North. The problem has many facets. A wide knowledge of the conditions is required to enable anyone to formulate a proper judgment of the situation. The conditions in the extreme North are in most respects fairly good. In the lower Kimberleys, and in the North-West the conditions are passable, but in the Gascoyne and the Murchison they are not so good. Deterioration has already set in. On the goldfields and in the South-West deterioration and demoralisation have long since set in and are becoming acute. The process of demoralisation started 100 years ago in the South-West. It has continued steadily up to the present time. It reached the North somewhere in the seventies or the early eighties. It has not taken much hold beyond the Leopold Ranges, where the people are

[End of page 1]

in practically the same wild state in which they originally existed, because there has been no white settlement to speak of in that area. These are a free and independent people, living in the wilds, and closely safeguarded by tribal inhibitions and prohibitions. A little further south we have a number of useful natives, still resticted by their tribal bounds and culture, but a number who have been born in servitude are beginning to forget their own culture to adopt that of the whites.

On the coast and further south we meet the coloured element. On reaching the South-West we find only 500 or 600 true aborigines left. There we have a nameless, unclassified outcast race, increasing in numbers but decreasing in vitality and stamina, and largely unemployable. The fathers are better men than the sons, and the grandfathers better than either. It is my firm conviction that as things are in the South so they will become in the North unless preventive measures are taken. Under present conditions the splendid virile men of the North will become like the useless coloured people in the South.

We hope as a department to tell you what we think is wrong, what remedies we suggest, and what we have dared to attempt with the means available to us. In 1905, when the Aborigines Act was proclaimed, there were with very few exceptions only aborigines and half-castes. There were not more than 900 half-castes in the State. Today there are still aborigines and half-castes but there are two or three generations of half-castes, and numerous cross-breeds, making the total coloured population, which is not purely aboriglnal, 3891, excluding numerous Asiatic crossss at Broome and along the coast, who are quite unclassifiable. In all probability there are nearer 5,000 people of colour in Western Australia.  In 1905 there were only 50 half-castes between Geraldton and Albany; today there are some 3,000. A large number of these people are not covered by existing legislation, yet they are living exactly as their forebears did. Indeed their conditions in most respects are inferior to the conditions of the pure-blooded aborigine.

[End of page 2]

They have very little in the way of education, but some of then have just enough to enable then to become defiant and unrestrained. Our difficulties as a department are, therefore, constantly increasing. They have abandoned all the good found in the tribal culture of their ancestors, except when they choose to use it as a means to an end. In the South at all events we have reached a stage where decisions must be made concerning the future welfare of these people who are at the parting of the ways. We have to decide whether we shall make them a good, law-abiding, self-respecting people, or leave them as an outcast race, rapidly increasing in number and constituting an incubus and danger to the community. These people in the South have suffered somewhat from the sympathy and pity of the community. They have been spoilt in many ways. They have suffered the good-humoured toleration of the whites, and have been allowed to live their own lives to their own detriment. Like other crossbred races, they have a dislike for institutionalism or authority.Yet above all things they have to be protected against themselves and can not be allowed to remain as they are. The sore spot must be out out for the good of the community as well as of the patient, and probably against will of the patient.

Paragraph (a) of the Commisslon refers to the different classes that should be excluded from the native camps. There are people who advocate separate legislation for half-castes and aborigines. I do not agree with that. The half-caste is bound up with the aboriginal; he is living the life of an aboriginal and it would be impossible to separate the two at present. In our own Act a certain amount of differentiation is shown with regard to the half-caste.

[End of page 3]

008/8

The half-caste dislikes extremely to be thought an aboriginal, though he does not mind being classed as a native. He objects to what be calls the “Dog Act”, and being placed thereunder; that is, the Aborigines Act. I do not blame him for that. Many of the half-castes should not be called aborigines. They are above that, quite. They have passed along the road to a certain extent, and they naturally object. My view is that the name of the Department should be entirely changed. It should not be the Aborigines Department at all, but the Department of Native Affairs, and the Chief Protector should be styled Commissioner or some such title. Then the whole objection of the half-caste would disappear, and it is a very considerable objection. In some cases it prevents us from handling the half-castes at all, whatever right we may have in the matter. The term “native” of course would include all coloured persons deemed by law to be such. The effect of the proposed change would be excellent. There is nothing adverse in it, and it oould not adversely affect anyone. We shall be dealing with Clause (a) again later, when we come to legislation. I do not want to say too much about it just now.

Swan Native & Half Caste Mission

State Records Archive
Consignment: 652
Item: 1909/0031
Title: Swan Native & Half Caste Mission

Keywords: Thomas Newell, Phoebe Newell, Swan Native and Half-Caste Mission, Alfred Burton

[Letter]
Guildford
Dec 14th, 1908
Mr Gale, Dear Sir,
In answer to yours of the 9th inst I am sorrie to inform you that I am not able to pay anything not just now has I have not any payable work just now but if they will take Phoeby I will pay what I can later on when I get good work but at present I have nothing and three other children to keep and my wife if Mr Burton will not take her then I must manage the best way I can for that is all I can at present tho she ought to be at school now. Hoping you will do your best for me in this matter and hoping to hear from you again.
I remain your, Obediently,
T Newell

[Letter]
Guildford
Jan 10 1909
Mr Gale, Dear Sir,
About my little girl Phoeby. I received your letter and I answer it telling you that could not pay now but would pay when I was able that is when I got payable work. Sir, please will let me know what they will do she ought to be at school now and hoping you will try your best for me.
I remain your obedient servant,
T Newell

[Letter]
To: Revd A Burton, Manager, Swan Native & Half-Caste Mission, Midland Junction
Dear Sir,
I have several times tried to communicate with you on the telephone, but without success. I wished to inform you that the man Newell states that he is at present unable to pay anything towards the maintenance of his children at your mission but will do so when he is able to get payable work. He finds it all that he can do to support his wife and the children who are with him now. What he wishes to know is, whether you will take in his youngest girl “Phoebe” who I spoke to you about a little time ago. The Government will pay the usual rate for the child, until the father is able to contribute towards her support.
I am, dear Sir, yours obediently,
C F Gale

[Letter]
To: Mr T Newell, Ab. Nat., Guildford, WA
17th Jan 1909
Sir,
Mr Barton consents to take your girl “Phoebe” as an inmate of the Swan Native and Halfcaste Mission. When you take her there, please give the Manager this letter.
I am Sir, yours obediently,
C F Gale

[Letter]
To: Acting Manager, Swan Native and Halfcaste Mission, Midland Junction, WA
18th Jan 1909
Sir,
I saw Mr Burton on Saturday in Perth and he has verbally consented to take as inmates of the Mission, the girl “Phoebe Newell” from Guildford, also the by Tommy from Menzies. I have instructed Mr Newell to take his daughter to you and I will communicate with you again, when to expect “Tommy.”
I have the honour to be, Sir, your obedient servant,
C F Gale

[Letter]
Swan Boys Orphanage
Middle Swan
To: The Chief Protector of Aborigines, Perth
Dear Sir,
In reply to your 13/285 of 11th inst I have to inform you that I have arranged with Mr Pechell for the admission of the halfcaste.
Yours truly
A Burton

[Letter]
Swan Boys Orphanage
Middle Swan
To: The Chief Protector of Aborigines, Perth
Dear Sir,
In reply to your 13/286 of 11th inst I have to inform you that I have arranged with Mr Pechell for the admission of the girl Phoebe.
Yours truly
A Burton

Katitjin Notes:

Swan Native and Half-caste Mission
It is worth noting here that Thomas Newell saw the mission as an opportunity for his daughter Phoebe to attend school. Although all children were permitted to attend State Schools, this became increasingly difficult for Aboriginal families as the White parents pressured these schools not to allow Aboriginal children to attend. The Education Dept then excluded them because Aboriginal children were supposedly under the care of the Chief Protector. Unlike the often portrayed myth of families “abandoning” their children to mission institutions, it is clear from his letters that Thomas Newell’s primary concern was the welfare and education of his children. A full description of this mission can be found at Find & Connect.

Burton, Alfred
Rev Alfred Burton was the superintendent of the Swan Native and Half-Caste Mission. He was criticised heavily in the media, as this 1907 article from the Sunday Times attests with headlines “Another Burton Bomb – The Orphanage Autocrat Reaches the Limit – The Acme of Arrogance and Heartlessness.”