health

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…

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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

[End of page 57]

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

[End of page 58]

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.

[End of page 59]

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.

[End of page 62]

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 – Pt 7

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] Continued…

15. Have you a copy of his report ? — Yes, I will supply it. One of his recommendations was that there should be an itinerant officer in the Kimberleys to be entrusted with the matter of inspecting and treating natives between Derby and Wyndham, his headquarters to be in Hall’s Creek. After Dr Cook’s visit, two or three conferences were held between…

[End of page 18]

the Ministers and the officers concerned, and it was finally agreed that leprosy should be a matter for the Medical Departnent and that I should continue to control the incidence of venereal disease amongst natives. Consequently I am not able to give much evidence regarding leprosy that will be obtainable from the Medical Department. It was suggested that native leper cases should be transferred to a leprosarium at Darwin. In company with the Minister, I visited the Federal health authorities in Melbourne with a view to getting that suggestion put into effect. It was not done then, but it was brough about more recently and lepers are supposed to be sent to Darwin. In 1925 I again pointed out that in the Kimberleys I had cone across a number of revolting cases of disease. All the district medical officers were not then administering the treatment we had adopted at our hospitals. As a result of my representations they were asked to do so in order that they might treat local cases. I also recommended that the district medical officer at Derby should be relieved of his duties for 12 months so that he could travel up and down the coast and administer the propor treatment. That was not agreed to. I further pointed out that a suitable policy to control the increase of the disease would be the gradual establishment of small native stations or depots in order that we might get in touch with the natives and eventually effect the cure of those needing attention. We had plenty of rumours regarding the incidence of the disease in different parts of the north but could not get anything tangible on which to act. On the contrary, our own stations advised that there were no general signs of disease existing in the far North, and in that statement at least one missioner concurred.

16. The district from which most of the lepers came recently was one of those traversed by Dr Cook and found by him to be comparatively clean. One road board — I think it was Broome — suggested an annual inspection of natives on the same lines as those followed in the expedition conducted by Dr Cook, but owing to the high cost, the suggestion was not given serious consideration.

[End of page 19]

In 1927 I pointed out that it would be just as cheap to appoint a permanent travelling medical officer who would be always on the job to do the work. Since then I have repeatedly urged the appointment of inspectors, at least one of whom should be a medical man. I submit file 126/33 (Exhibit 4). I pointed out that district medical officers could not be expected to visit the interior and that as a matter of fact they did not do so unless something special transpired. Consequently they could not know or seek out the condition of the natives.

17. Natives in remote districts disguise their condition. If they know that anyone is going to visit them, ten to one they will clear out until that person has left. I contend that only an officer of the Aborigines Department — a medical man or otherwise — travelling and repeating his visits can be expected to ascertain the real condition of those people. There have been short visits by medical men and recently the medical officer at Derby has done excellent work in discovering lepers; but had my recommendation been adopted in the first place, we would not have had the condition that prevails today. We would have been very much further advanced in the matter of the treatment of venereal disease. Because those people have simply been left alone for so long and because no one has understood their condition and because the diseased ones have not been actually located, the present
rather bad state of affairs has resulted.

18. In 1928, I recommended the establishment of a native hospital just from that district outside Wyndham. We had had several medical reports from that district notifying the presence of venereal disease, and are still getting them. The reason we know so much about those things — we are not given details — is that whites are contracting venereal disease and they allege they get it from the natives. Whether that is so, I am unable to say. However, Wyndham has forwarded quite n number of complaints during the last two or three years.

[End of page 20]

No money wag available for such hospital, and I could not go on with it. The position is the same today. I put In File 184/28 (Exhibit 5).

19. Another difficulty cropped up some years ago when lock hospitals were in existence. The difficulty was that shipping companies refused to carry veneral cases. Now and again we were able to get one on board, largely on sufferance, but in the last year or two it has been impossible to convey natives in that way. At intervals during the past ten years I have suggested that we should have a boat of our own. Then the North-West Department was in existence we tried to arrange with the Commonwealth for a vessel for the use of the Fisheries Department, the Aborigines Department and the Customs Dept, but negotiations failed. Lately I have continued to urge that we should have a boat and that that boat should be established at Munja Station. Possibly something will come of that recommendation in the near future. It is essential that we should have a boat of our own to carry natives and to transport our goods and produce to Broome. There are difficulties experienced in approaching Derby by a small boat. Vessels prefer to go to Broome. Again there is the question of transporting lepers to Darwin and about this there has been considerable difficulty. If we had our own boat it would be a simple matter to take them there. Such a vessel would have to be an auxiliary boat. Also there would be saved the cost to us of certain services. It would cost no more, probably less, than we are spending today in certain directions. Further, with regard to the question of venereal disease on the stations in Kimberley, and particularly East Kimberley, I recently arranged for a visit of the district medical officer at Wyndham to our Moola Bulla Station. Moola Bulla is probably one of the best conducted stations in the North, as indeed a Government station should be, and you would expect to find no more adverse conditions there than anywhere else. I am going to submit a copy of the doctor’s report which I received about the end of last year. It is on Page 50 of File No.120/26 (Exhibit 6). It is safe to say that the natives on the other stations are in no better condition than are those at Moola Bulla.

[End of page 20A]

A O Neville’s Evidence – Part 6

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] Continued…

[Handwritten insert] Coming to Paragraph (d) of the Commission “Disease amongst aborigines and measures for their treatment”

When I became Chief Protector, I found there was an impression, particularly in the North, that the natives were very much afflicted with venereal disease. There were hospitals on Bernier and Dorre Islands capable of treating 480 patients annually. Actually while those hospitals were in existence, for nine or 10 years, 600 patients in all were treated at an annual cost of over £70 per head, which is enormous. That did not include the cost of collection and transport. There were never more than 100 patients at a time on the islands, usually between 50 and 60. Fear of the sea was one of the causes which prevented diseased natives from being discovered, for no doubt they used to hide. There was then an officer who used to travel about collecting diseased natives. The journeys to which I am about to refer took place between 1913 and 1917. On his first trip this officer went, it was thought he would secure about 200 patients. Actually he got only 47. On another expedition, in 1915, he got only 13 patients, and on his final trip he found only 32 bad enough to be sent to the islands.

[End of page 16]

After very carefully surveying the position, I recommended that the Government should close those hospitals—they were simply wasting money—and that in their stead hospitals should be erected on the mainland and the natives encouraged to enter them. One hospital was established at Port Hedland and another at Derby. At that time there was very little talk of leprosy. Only 13 cases were discovered between 1909 and 1917. From 1920 to 1923 11 more cases were discovered, including one white, and from 1924 to 1929, 27 cases were found. I mention this specifically to show that most of the leprosy discovered has been within the last three or four years. As regards venereal disease, hospitals on the islands seemed to have cleaned up the existing cases so far as they could be found, but those cases never included patients from the country beyond the usual confines of civilisation. The department has made every effort to convey to the hospitals any native afflicted with venereal disease. Protectors have been enjoined to report every case discovered, and they have to make an annual statement of the conditions in their districts. In 1917 I sought the permission of the Commissioner of Public Health to enable certain of my officers and one or two missionaries to administer a certain form of treatment for cases of venereal disease and he agreed. Throughout the North there are now some 12 officers entitled to do that. They reside in places beyond the reach of ordinary medical aid. There has never been discovered amongst natives the amount of venereal disease alleged to exist. On many occasions we have asked medical officers to visit certain areas and the result has always been more or less the same, namely that they could not find the cases said to exist.
14. In recent years the incidence of the disease has become more apparent. In 1922 I pointed out that venereal disease was increasing and that natives were suffering from other forms of disease. I myself had been through the Kimberleys and I urged the advisableness of a medical inspection right through the North in order to ascertain the prevalence of venereal disease,

[End of page 17]

leprosy, and other complaints. In 1923, I repeated that suggestion. We had an outbreak of hookworm in 1921, but owing to prompt measures taken by the Rockefeller survey party under Dr. Baldwin, that appears to have been eliminated, as a result of those representations. Dr Cecil Cook, a Commonwealth officer, was loaned to us in 1924. He went through the North and made a survey. He was an expert in tropical diseases. He visited practically every station in the Kimberleys and in the North-West as far south as Roebourne. He examined in all 2,432 natives and found four cases of leprosy in natives and 84 natives suffering from granuloma venereum. It in important to explain the difference between venereal diseases. There are three forms from which the natives seem to suffer. Granuloma venereum is an Asiatic disease, which was evidently introduced by Asiatics years ago. So far as I can judge, it is the most easily cured of the lot. It does not seem to afflict whites or it has not afflicted whites here, although I believe it can do so. There is also ordinary syphilis from which the natives have not suffered to any great extent, and lastly there is gonorrhoea which is the commonest form, and the form that is increasing, it being so easily conveyed from one to another. It is the early stage of venereal disease and can easily be cleaned up. We have been administering special treatment for granuloma at our own hospitals and have turned out hundreds of natives apparently cured. It is not a long treatment; the natives are in hospital as a rule for only three or four weeks. Some natives have returned re-infected and have been discharged again cured. Dr Cook made several important recommendations.

A O Neville’s Evidence Pt 3

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] Continued…

7. What was the subject of the complaints that you are referring to now?    —The natives being a nuisance near the town. The first complaint was from Moora. We had the Moore River settlement open at the time, and we moved the bulk of the natives from there. But I want to show you that to move them from the towns is not always a success. In that instance a number of them did not go to the settlement, but went out 20 or 30 miles away from Moora, where we could not get at them very well. They became a complete nuisance to everyone in the district. They are there still. It is one of those places where one hardly knows what to do with them; a sort of out-of-sight out-of-mind place. Northam in 1932 made a complaint, and again we moved 80 odd natives to Moore River. Narrogin Municipality has complained, and so have the Sussex Road Board, the Busselton Citizens’ Association, the Quairading Road Board, the Quairading Hospital Committee, Wagin Municipality, the Williams Road Board, the Gnowangerup Road Board, and the Katanning Municipality. While we have moved natives from Guildford two or three times, the local bench asked us again to move them only a week ago. Finally there was a complaint from the Geraldton Municipality. The wonder to me is that in the circumstances we have not had more complaints of this nature. I consider that the townspeople have been very long-suffering, in view of the general condition surrounding native camps. We have nowhere to send these people, and so the department are

[End of page 8]

powerless to act except as regards the settlement on Moore River, to which we cannot send aborigines south of the eastern goldfields line, and which moreover as already full.

8. It is sometimes desirable that bodies of natives be moved from one district to another; say the natives on the trans-line; but we have nowhere to put them, and so cannot effect the removal. Merely to shift natives from one district to another, to continue living in similar surroundings, is only adding insult to injury from the point of view of the white residents. The remedy in this case lies in the provision of native settlements.

9. Certain districts are anticipating visits from you. Probably they have written to you on the subject. They have written to me, and I have advised them to write to you. However, I would like to say here that if you contemplate visiting any native camps to see conditions for yourself, those camps should not be advised of your coming, because otherwise they will certainly be readied up for the occasion.

10. Referring to paragraph (c), dealing with physical fitness, I am afraid I have to paint rather a gloomy picture. In the North, except where introduced diseases are in evidence, the bush natives are a healthy, virile people. Their condition varies, according to whether the seasons are good or bad.

[End of page 9]

On stations where the natives are employed the conditions are, generally speaking, good. Frequently the natives are well-fed, but not always suitably so. The relatives of those people are likewise fed by the station people and they have sufficient too. That applies to a majority of the stations. In all instances of natives in employment and dependent upon them for supplies the staple diet consists of meat, bread, tea, sugar and tobacco. At least one medical man in the North has informed me that the majority of the natives in his district, which is a very large one, are suffering from malnutrltion, and that is naturally due to the sameness of the diet. We experience great difficulty in getting natives to eat foods apart from those supplied to them. We have difficulty in inducing then to eat cooked vegetables. When in employment they do not look for native foods as they were formerly accustomed to do, except when they are on holidays. Their natural food would be no doubt a better balanced ration than that which they get now. We do not insist upon any compulsory food diet scale so long as the natives receive supplies that are good and sufficient. Many of the station owners supply the natives with cooked food. Others provide the ingredients and the natives do their own cooklng. So far I have been speaking of the conditions that apply in the North.

Junction Police Station. Relief to indigent natives

State Records Archive
Consignment: 652
Item: 1909/0029A
Title: Junction Police Station. Relief to indigent natives

Keywords: Edward Spry, Junction Station, Charles Clark, Easton & Co

[Letter]
The Junction
To: Mr E J Spry, Officer in Charge, Junction Police Station
Dear Sir,
Having completely run out of flour and sugar, owing to non-arrival of supplies, I am compelled to request that you will kindly ration indigent natives with their usual allowance, they have been freely supplied up to night of 28th inst.
I am writing to my firm re position I am placed in and they will no doubt acquaint the Protector of Aborigines re my action, and the Protector no doubt will in turn advise you.
Yours faithfully
Charles Clark
For Easton & Co, Junction Branch

[Letter]
Junction Station
29th Nov 1908
To: The Chief Protector of Aborigines, Perth
Sir,
Your telegram of 21st inst to hand and your instructions noted re indigent natives. I respectfully beg to attach a letter received by us dated 29th inst from Mr C Clark, Sub-Manager for Easton & Coy of the Junction re indigent natives handed over to them by me on the 1st September last. I took the natives over on the above date 29th inst and rationed the natives as previously done by me: 8 lbs flour, 1/2 lb sugar, 1/4 lb tea, two sticks tobacco & pipes & medicine when required (per week). For the past month I have supplied Easton & Coy in flour & sugar to ration the natives through them not supplying this branch with stores. As they have been trying to dispose of this business, they took over the natives.
While they were in my charge for eight years & since Easton & Coy took them over I have supplied dogs to catch kangaroos for them.
Yours respectfully,
E J Spry

Katitjin Notes:

Edward James Spry (1871-1944)
Edward Spry was a policeman in the Gascoyne Junction region from 1898 to 1910, and was made a Protector of Aborigines in 1906. He continued to work in the North-West at Port Hedland and Broome until 1924, when he transferred to Katanning as the Protector of Aborigines for that district. Spry was at Boulder Police Station from 1928-1933, when he transferred to Fremantle. When he retired in 1937, after 42 years of service, his career was eulogised in the Perth Mirror newspaper.

Messrs Bell & Male, Weedong. Relief to natives

State Records Archive
Consignment: 652
Item: 1909/0025
Title: Messrs Bell & Male, Weedong. Relief to natives

Keywords: Toorgabur, Juigabur, Joongabur, Coongoo, Billy, Molge, Sambo, Archie Male, Weedong Station, James Isdell, Beagle Bay Mission, Nicholas Emo, Josef Bischofs, Cygnet Bay Mission, Lacepede Islands, Harry Hunter, pearling, pastoral stations, Kimberley, Boolgin

[Account authorising payment for rations]
To: Bell & Male, Weedong Station
1908 Maintenance of Aborigines:
8d per day
Apr 1 – Jun 30
Toorgabur, Jenny, 60, infirm
Juigabur, Mary, 60, infirm
Joongabur, 65, blind
Coongoo, Billy, 60, infirm
May 27 – Jun 30
Molge, Sambo, 50, wooden leg

[Letter]
From: Streeter & Male, Broome
To: Chief Protector of Aborigines, Perth
4 July, 1908
Dear Sir,
I enclose vouchers for maintenance of several natives in April, May, June.
Some four months ago, Mr Isdell was at our small station recently started at Pender Bay (some 30 miles north of Beagle Bay Mission) and arranged with our manager to look after a few old and infirm natives, also any others Mr Isdell might send whilst journeying further towards Derby.
The particulars as on the vouchers are supplied by my manager, but to me personally Mr Isdell has been unable to communicate. On the May voucher appears one man with a wooden leg – he was sent down by Mr Isdell after being some weeks away from Pender Bay.
Yours faithfully,
Bell & Male
Archie Male

[Memo]
Mr Isdell replied no such authority given as he considered the station should support the natives.
E W P [Edmund Pechell]

[Telegram – no date]
To: Isdell, Fitzroy
From: Pechell, Aborigines Dept
Please say if you sanctioned Bell Male Weedong five natives at eight-pence

[Memo]
By letter 13/162
Messrs Bell & Male informed that Mr Isdell had been communicated with and that it was found that he had given no authority for the relief of five natives at the Weedong Station. Therefore, under the circumstances, relief could not be passed.
E W P
4/8/08

[Letter]
From: Streeter & Male, Broome
To: Chief Protector of Aborigines, Perth
21 Aug, 1908
Dear Sir,
We are in receipt of your letter 13/162 and I must say we are very surprised at the contents. Mr Bell is now in Broome and the writer has gone into the matter thoroughly with him. The natives mentioned in the vouchers attached were sent to Weedong (Pender Bay) by your inspector Mr Isdell – some of them were, we believe, from Cygnet Bay, who had been looked after by Father Nicholas. These natives, as you see by the vouchers, are very old and quite helpless, one blind and one with a wooden leg, and to leave them without support would mean the end of their existence. We fail to see any reason why Mr Isdell should have said that these natives should be supported by us after having sent them. The station has been in existence barely two years and considering Mr Bell does not use natives, only one horse boy who is well-looked after by us, it seems rather absurd to say that they should be kept by the station. I would suggest that you get confirmation of our case from Father Bischoff of the Beagle Bay Mission who is a man taking grate interest in the natives and doing a great work. We certainly can’t afford to keep them ourselves and would much prefer to have them sent elsewhere than on our premises, but it would be a most inhumane thing to leave them unprotected so that until we hear from you again we shall continue to support them on your account being sent us by Mr Isdell. Since Father Nicholas left Cygnet Bay there are numbers of old natives in this district not being looked after as they should be, as we have reason to believe although they should be looked after by Mr Hunter of Swan Point, it is evidently not being done. The latter information we would ask you to be confidential and get a report from Father Bischoff who is a Protector as to whether it is a fact. Had Mr Isdell been in the district we would have communicated with him, but if the above is correct it is certainly your duty to remedy same.
Yours faithfully,
Bell & Male
Archie Male

[Memo]
To C P A [Chief Protector of Aborigines]
I have written again to Mr Isdell re this relief at Weedong. Also to Father Bischof
E W P
2/11/08

[Telegram]
12 Nov 1908
From: Fitzroy
To: Aborigines Dept
Wired August first no sanction or authority from me. Charge relief Weedong Station Male & Bell can well afford feed few indigents. Beagle Bay Mission relief only sixteen miles from Weedong
Isdell

[Memo]
C P A
In face of Mr Isdell’s telegram, do you consider relief should be given to the Weedong Station for natives mentioned in voucher form and by Messrs Bell & Male.
E W P

[Memo]
Mr Pechell
Inform Male & Bell that from information received from our inspector they must have misunderstood the authority quoted by them. It appears to be a genuine case of relief and the account must be paid. Inform the ? when paying that as the Mission Beagle Bay Station is so near them I consider it advisable that these natives should be sent there & that no further accounts will be paid.
C F Gale
20.11.08

[Letter]
To: Messrs Bell & Male, Weedong Station, near Broome
23rd Nov 1908
Sirs,
I have the honor to acknowledge receipt of your letter of 21st August, received here a short time back, re relief to the natives at your Weedong Station and inform you that from information received from our inspector you must have mistaken the authority given and quoted amount.
However, as the natives maintained by you seem to be genuine cases for relief, I have forwarded the voucher for payment through the Treasury at Broome. As the mission at Beagle Bay is near you, I consider it advisable that these indigent natives should be sent there and that no further accounts should be forwarded for their relief from Weedong.
I have the honor to be, Sirs, your obedient servant,
C F Gale

[Letter]
From: Beagle Bay Mission
To: Aborigines Dept
2nd Dec 1908
Dear Sir,
In your letter from the 3rd Nov you asked my opinion as to the relief of 5 natives on Mr Bell’s station, Weedong. Personally I have been different times at the said station of Messrs Bell and Male, where I have seen the old and infirm natives. These natives surely should be on the infirm list.
As to the Department bearing the expenses, I can only mention that Mr Bell himself is a very upright and honest man, but as his station is only in the beginning, he will have scarcely any profit from his work for the first 5 years.
Under these circumstances I doubt very much if he would have the inclination to look after the infirm natives, if the Department should refuse to bear at least part of the expense.
I am, Sir, your faithful servant,
Fr Jos Bischofs

[Letter]
Broome
31 Dec 1908
To: The Protector of Aborigines, Perth
Dear Sir,
We are in receipt of your letter of 23 Nov re natives at Weedong Station.
I regret to see you think our information from your Inspector is incorrect. On this point I must again say there was no misunderstanding as your Inspector even pointed out to Mr Bell, our Manager, the method of applying for payment and the details required. This fact alone should show you that at that time he considered the claim just.
Personally, the writer does not believe in the often made attempt to get your Dept to pay for natives which are often used on stations. As in the instance the firm I am managing Messrs Streeter & Co, who I can say support perhaps more old natives than any station in the North but still in this case many of them are old servants or have children working there in which case or cases I am quite in accord with you – its the duty of the many stations to support such natives.
However, in this case at Weedong, the facts are very different – the country has never before been opened up or used and the natives, which are a fair charge on the station, are maintained by it although only the horseboy is used. These natives sent by Mr Isdell are from Cygnet Bay country and I would not either myself or allow my manager to claim unless such was just.
To get stores to these parts is very expensive as a lugger has to be hired to get supplies sent up so you will see it is no advantage to us to have them there.
I trust you will arrange for the B. B. Mission or someone else to take them away as they are too old and decrepit to go on their own. In the meantime, I enclose the amount to date and shall continue to support them at your expense until some such arrangement is made to relieve me of them.
I trust you are making inquiries re the old natives about this part of the north for since Father Nicholas left Cygnet Bay and shall be pleased to hear from you that this is being done.
Yours faithfully,
Bell & Male
Archie Male

[Letter]
To: Messrs Bell & Male, Weedong Station, Broome
Jan 26th, 1909
Sirs,
I beg to acknowledge receipt of your letter of the 31st ultimo and to inform you that I have made enquiries re the old Natives now in your neighbourhood and formerly of the Cygnet Bay Mission.
I have the honor to be, Sir, your’s obediently,
Chief Protector of Aborigines

[Letter]
To: J Isdell Esq, Travelling Protector of Aborigines, Halls Creek
Messrs Bell and Male of the Weedong Station have written two or three times re old and decrepit Natives from Cygnet Bay, hanging about the country in their neighbourhood.
I understand from your report that arrangements were made to send all Father Nicholas Emo’s old Natives to Hunter of Boolgin; was not this idea out, if not what arrangements were made for the Natives who did not go to Boolgin.
Chief Protector of Aborigines

[Letter]
Halls Creek
To: Chief Protector, Perth
Letter undated or numbered to hand with reference to granting of relief to old natives at Bell & Male’s Weedong Station. I never sanctioned the granting of relief to any natives on Weedong, if so, I would have at once acquainted the Aborigine Dept. Neither Messrs Bell or Male never made any written application to me for relief, if they had I would have refused it. I could not recommend it and what’s more they ought to be ashamed of themselves for asking for it – Mr Male is a large cattle run with a big pearling fleet, large store business, and has had all exclusive monopoly of the very best butchering business in West Australia, that of Broome, and could well afford to feed 100 old natives. On my visit there were 3 od women and 1 old man, and if I am not mistaken the old man is the father of one of the stockboys, though I am not certain.
Mr Harris of Carnet Bay Station is a poor man, struggling hard, yet he feeds 7 old natives besides children and never hinted at relief. Weedong is only 16 miles from Beagle Bay Mission Station where old natives can get relief there if they want. When one comes to travel through Kimberley, and compares the price of stores paid by inland natives with those on the coast, I can only say all coastal station owners ought to be ashamed of themselves, it’s pure and simple.
From Derby to Upper Fitzroy and Margaret River carriage[?] is from £25 to £30 per ton, flour is over £40 per ton, and every station finds indigents and also bush natives and not a single station owner or manager ever mentioned the word relief, excepting one station over the Leopold, Mount Barnett, and that was for beef only. I would stop all relief on coastal stations, where stores are cheap and compel them to feed a certain number of natives, for having use of land and service of younger natives, if they hadn’t the younger natives, they could be looking after and feeding the old people, stores on coast are only 2 or 3 pounds over Fremantle prices. I will sanction no relief without approval of the Aborigines Dept and applications must be made in writing.
The only relief that is necessary in that portion of the coast is at Hunter’s Boolgin Creek where nearly all the old Cygnet Bay natives belong to.
I remain, yours obediently,
James Isdell

[Letter]
Ord River
May 18th, 1909
Sir,
I beg to acknowledge per private river mail yours dated Jan 14th & 26th, no 13/305 and 13/337 with reference to Bell & Males complaint about indigents and the heavy expense incurred feeding indigents at Hunters Boolgin Homestead.
I have already written Department with reference to Bell & Males application. I look on it as an imposition asking for assistance to feed a few old natives. If the old natives are troubling them there is a police constable stationed at Beagle Bay. They should request him to remove them to the Beagle Bay Mission relief station, which is only 16 miles from Mr Bell’s homestead.
With regard to Boolgin, it is a difficult matter to settle. Mr Hunter absolutely refuses to have anything to do with the old people. When I first asked him, he would not take relief money but at last agreed to serve out natives if supplied by the Dept. From Disaster Bay King Sound along this coast as far as Pender Bay there are a number of old natives men and women, but very few young natives. Father Nicholas had most of them at his Cygnet Bay Mission, and if I mistake not (I have not got the records with me) he got relief money for 32 natives. It was on that basis I calculated the supplies for Hunter. If it has been exceeded it is so without authority. Sunday Island natives are nearly all young men & women from 20 years to 35 years old – very few old ones & few very young ones. Nearly if not all these natives belong to the mainland, along the coast I have named, if such is the case it accounts for so many old people being thrown on their own resources. I want to investigate that point and find out how many of the Sunday Islanders are related to the old people. These old people on mainland will not live in the islands, there are really no natives belonging to Sunday or the other Islands, they all belong on the mainland, and only used the Islands for hunting & fishing purposes. Then again the regulations regarding the taking of natives as crews on boats are so lax that many of the younger men have been taken away and not been returned. I write very strongly on this particular question whilst in Broome early last year, suggesting alterations to protect these coastal natives. The proportion of women to men is so much larger on the coast it shows that a number of men must have disappeared. Whilst at Boolgin I would like to talk to take a run over to the Lacepedes in Hunter’s boat and inspect it in regard to its suitability to keep native prisoners on to work the guano deposits. Will you wire me to the Fitzroy if I can do so. The whole of that coast, as well as Derby, is a veritable death trap for horses from Kimberley worms, I am sure to lose some, as they are bound to contract the disease, although it may be months before they die.
I hope you do not blame me for not getting answers to your letters and telegrams in reasonable time, some of my correspondence is six months old before reaching me – your two January letters only reached me three days ago per private person.
I remain, yours obediently,
James Isdell

Katitjin Notes:

Archie Male (1877-1923)
Archie Male worked in partnership with his older brother Arthur Male (a Liberal MP for many years), with large cattle holdings in the North-West, which were exported to Java in exchange for rice and sugar used as provisions for the indentured Asian labourers of their extensive pearling fleets. Due to his interests in employing Japanese divers for the pearling industry, Male was the Honorary Consul for Japan in Broome from 1910 until his death in 1923. He was opposed to certain applications of the White Australian Policy that worked to prevent the employment of Asians, and the Male brothers worked vigorously to exempt Asians working in the pearling industry from the prohibitions of the Policy. Archie Male was Mayor of Broome for many years.

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)

Harry Hunter (1865-19) is a controversial figure: he was a pearling master who set up a camp at Boolgin Creek and subsequently lived there. The following is an extract from the book “Harry Hunter and Sydney Hadley“:

“Harry Hunter walked down to his store, revolver on his hip as always, whip and knife in hand. He took out a large burlap sack and a length of rope, locked the door again, and went on down to the beach.” “Just above the edge of the sea, a rowing boat lay on the sand. Nearby a group of Aboriginal children was playing, one of them a big boy, almost full grown. Harry Hunter told that boy, ‘Row this boat’.” “Soon after they set off, he said, ‘This boat is too light. Pull across to the island and bring some rocks’. The boy did so, lowering them in carefully, so they wouldn’t go through the bottom, then rowed out to the deep water, where sharks pass down King Sound when the tide runs full” “Out there, Harry Hunter put his revolver to the boy’s head, killed him, put the body and rocks in the sack which he tied with the rope and dropped over the stern.” “Taking the oars, he rowed back to the mainland shore, pulled the boat up on the beach and walked away.” Jack Hunter.

Bischofs, Josef (1878-1958)
Father Josef Bischofs was a German missionary, who arrived in WA in 1905 as part of the Pallotine Mission, who built up the Beagle Bay Mission after the Cistercians left in 1899, and stayed until 1920. He translated the bible into Nyul-nyul and wrote extensively on Aboriginal customs. He was very outspoken in his objection to marriages between Aboriginal women and Asian men.

Father Nicholas D’Emo was a Spanish missionary of the Cistercian Order, who was the first priest at Broome and helped to establish the Beagle Bay Missionary. He arrived in 1895 and remained after the Cisterian Mission left in 1899. He was President of the Broome Filipino Association and employed an Aboriginal woman, who was married a Filipino man, as teacher in the school he established in Broome. After leaving the Cistercian Order, he ran a schooner with other Filipinos and then went on to establish the Lombadina Mission, where he died in 1915.

Mangaroon Station relief request

State Records Archive
Consignment: 652
Item: 1909/0023
Title: Mangaroon Station. Relief to natives

Keywords: Mangaroon Station, Jarra-a-Jarra, Murra Bullboo, Jinnabiddy, Yeldebba, Jemimah, Cranky Jonney, Arthur Abbott

Key Phrase:
[Acknowledgement of traditional ownership]
Mangaroon Station is the original home of a tribe of these blacks [Arthur Abbott, station owner]

[Letter]
Commercial Bank Chambers,
234 St George’s Tce, Perth
Arthur F Abbott, Barrister & Solicitor
Nov 6th, 1908
To: Chief Protector of Aboriginals, Perth
Dear Sir,
There are still camped on the property of the Mangaroon Pastoral Coy a party of six decrepit old aboriginals who are unable to find food for themselves, and I should be glad if you would put them on the Government list, as it is hard to have these old destitute natives on the Station.
I might say that no one of them in any way works on the Station.
The natives referred to are as follows:-
Jarra-a-Jarra, male, between 50 and 60 years of age
Murra Bullboo, female, between 50 and 60 years of age
Jinnabiddy, female, between 50 and 60 years of age
Yeldebba, female, between 50 and 60 years of age
Jemimah, female, between 50 and 60 years of age
Cranky Jonney, male, between 50 and 60 years of age
Some of these natives are blind or partially so, are very infirm and decrepit, and I think should be supported by your Department.
If you so desire of course my Company would be pleased to provide them with rations, etc.
As I previously informed you the Mangaroon Station is the original home of a tribe of these blacks, and although my Company has had the Station but a short time the Natives have continued to camp thereon.
I have the honor to be, Sir, your obedient servant,
The Mangaroon Pastoral Company Limited
A F Abbott
Director

[Letter]
Commercial Bank Chambers,
234 St George’s Tce, Perth
Arthur F Abbott, Barrister & Solicitor
Jan 5th, 1909
To: Chief Protector of Aboriginals, Perth
Sir,
On the 6th November last I wrote you fully with reference to some destitute aborigines camped on the Mangaroon Station, Carnarvon District.
Beyond a formal acknowledgement I have had no reply to my letter.
When may I expect to hear from you on the subject?
I have the honor to be, Sir, your obedient servant,
The Mangaroon Pastoral Company Limited
A F Abbott
Director

[Memo]
Mr Pechell
Inform Mr Abbott that I am prepared to allow him 9d per day for supplying the usual scale of rations to the indigent natives
C F G
13.1.09

[Letter]
To: Manager, Mangaroon Station Pastoral Company Ltd
Commercial Bank Chambers, St Georges Tce, Perth
14th Jan 1909
I beg to acknowledge receipt of your letter of the 5th instant and to inform you that, I am prepared to allow your Company 9d per day each, for supplying the usual scale of rations to the indigent natives mentioned in your letter of 6th Nov last. Vouchers are to be sent in monthly if possible, directions contained therein, be strictly complied with.
I have the honor to be, Sir, your obedient servant,
C F Gale

[Letter]
Commercial Bank Chambers,
234 St George’s Tce, Perth
Arthur F Abbott, Barrister & Solicitor
Jan 5th, 1909
To: Chief Protector of Aboriginals, Perth
Sir,
I am in receipt of your favor of the 14th inst and am glad to hear your determination.
I shall instruct the Manager to send monthly statements as desired.
I have the honor to be, Sir, your obedient servant,
The Mangaroon Pastoral Company Limited
A F Abbott
Director