Protector of Aborigines

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The office of the Protector of Aborigines was established pursuant to a recommendation contained in the Report of the Parliamentary Select Committee on Aboriginal Tribes, (British settlements.) of the House of Commons. On 31 January 1838, Lord Glenelg, Secretary of State for War and the Colonies sent Governor Gipps the report. The office of Chief Protector of Aborigines was established in some states, and in Queensland the title was Protector of Aboriginals.

The office of Protector was by appointment, by the Aboriginal Protection Board (or similar).

The report recommended that Protectors of Aborigines should be engaged. They would be required to learn the Aboriginal language and their duties would be to watch over the rights of Indigenous Australians (mostly Aboriginal, but also Torres Strait Islander people), guard against encroachment on their property and to protect them from acts of cruelty, oppression and injustice. The Port Phillip Protectorate was established with George Augustus Robinson as chief protector and four full-time protectors.[1]

While the role was nominally to protect Aboriginal people, particularly in remote areas, the role included social control up to the point of controlling whom individuals were able to marry and where they lived and managing their financial affairs.[citation needed]

A. O. Neville was a notable Protector in Western Australia.

Matthew Moorhouse was the first Protector of Aborigines in South Australia. He led the Rufus River massacre, which slaughtered 30 to 40 Aboriginal people.[2]

The Aborigines Welfare Board in New South Wales was abolished in 1969. By then, all states and territories had repealed the legislation allowing for the removal of Aboriginal children under the policy of "protection".[citation needed]

Protectors of Aborigines[edit]

Protectors of Aborigines around Australia included the following.


This was known as the Port Phillip Protectorate from 1839 to 1849.

South Australia[edit]

Interim appointments (1836–1839)[6]

Gazetted appointments

Note: MacDougall and Macaulay were first appointed as "Native Patrol Officers" by the Commonwealth government during the rocket testing at Woomera (which included the nuclear testing at Emu Field and Maralinga), and also appointed as Protectors (by the SA government) when they started work at the range, in 1949 and 1956 respectively.

Northern Territory[edit]

Until 1911, Northern Territory was part of South Australia. The Northern Territory Aboriginals Act 1910 (passed by the South Australian parliament), followed by the Aboriginals Ordinance 1918 after the territory passed to federal government control, created the office of Chief Protector and the Northern Territory Aboriginals Department.


The office of Chief Protector of Aboriginals took over from the Northern Protector of Aboriginals and Southern Protector of Aboriginals Offices on 25 March 1904, and was succeeded by the Director of Native Affairs Office in 1939 (after the Aboriginals Preservation and Protection Act 1939 and Torres Strait Islander Act 1939[17] were passed. The Director of Native Affairs Office was superseded by the Aboriginal and Island Affairs Department on 28 April 1966, after being abolished by the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders Affairs Act 1965.[17][18]

Chief Protector of Aboriginals Office, 25 March 1904 to 12 October 1939

Western Australia[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Aplin, Graeme; S.G. Foster; Michael McKernan, eds. (1987). Australians:Events and Places. Fairfax, Syme and Weldon Associates. pp. 47–8. ISBN 0-949288-13-6.
  2. ^ "Friction between overlanders and Australian Aboriginals". State Library of South Australia. Retrieved 28 August 2018.
  3. ^ Head, Alison (2004). "DREDGE, James (1796-1846)". Australian Dictionary of Evangelical Biography. Archived from the original on 16 December 2017.
  4. ^ "An awful silence reigns': James Dredge at the Goulburn River - No 61 Autumn 1998". La Trobe Journal. 1 December 1997. Retrieved 5 February 2020.
  5. ^ "Sievwright, Charles Wightman (1800–1855)", Australian Dictionary of Biography.
  6. ^ a b c d Lane, Jo, ed. (January 2013). "Protector of Aborigines Out Letter-Book 7: December 8th, 1892 to September 4th, 1906: Including List of Addressees, and Subject Index" (PDF). Transcribed and indexed by Jo Lane: 2. Retrieved 24 November 2019. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  7. ^ a b Foster R. (2000), "'endless trouble and agitation': Aboriginal activism in the Protectionist era", Journal of the Historical Society of South Australia, 28: 15-27.
  8. ^ "Seventy years a colonist". The Advertiser. Adelaide. 3 July 1909. p. 8. Retrieved 3 January 2016 – via National Library of Australia.
  9. ^ a b c d e f Gara, Tom (2010). The Last Protector: The Illegal Removal of Aboriginal Children from their Parents in South Australia, by Cameron Raynes (2009). "[Book review]". Aboriginal History. 34 – via ANU Press.
  10. ^ Moriarty, John (25 November 1996). "John Moriarty (1938)". National Museum of Australia (Interview). Interviewed by Sue Taffe. Archived from the original on 30 September 2009.
  11. ^ Aborigines Protection Board (1955). "Report of the Aborigines Protection Board for the year ended 30th June, 1954" (PDF) – via AIATSIS. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  12. ^ "Aboriginal missions in South Australia: Point McLeay". LibGuides at State Library of South Australia. 12 June 2012. Retrieved 29 November 2020.
  13. ^ Kahlin Compound (1913 - 1939)
  14. ^ Reports on actions of Dr Cecil Cook Archived 2006-08-19 at the Wayback Machine.
  15. ^ Dr Cook was the Chief Protector of Aborigines during the trial and appeal of Dhakiyarr Wirrpanda. The first Aboriginal Australian whose case was heard in the High Court Archived 2006-02-06 at the Wayback Machine (at the National Archives of Australia)
  16. ^ Hossain, Samia. "Norman Haire and Cecil Cook on Procedures of Sterilisation in the Inter-War Period." In Historicising Whiteness: Transnational Perspectives on the Construction of an Identity, edited by Leigh Boucher, Jane Carey, and Katherine Ellinghaus, 454-63. Melbourne: RMIT Publishing, 2007.
  17. ^ a b "Queensland: Legislation / Key Provisions". Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies. 10 December 2015. Retrieved 3 March 2020.
  18. ^ "Agency Details:Director of Native Affairs Office". Basic Search. 9 September 2016. Retrieved 3 March 2020.
  19. ^ Evans, Raymond. "Bleakley, John William (1879–1957)". Australian Dictionary of Biography. Retrieved 3 March 2020. First published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 7, (MUP), 1979
  20. ^ "Golden Wedding". Bunbury Herald. Western Australia. 9 March 1918. p. 6. Retrieved 23 November 2013 – via National Library of Australia.
  21. ^ "News and notes". The West Australian. Perth. 12 December 1907. p. 7. Retrieved 23 November 2013 – via National Library of Australia.
  22. ^ "South and West Australia". The Albury Banner and Wodonga Express. New South Wales. 20 December 1907. p. 34. Retrieved 23 November 2013 – via National Library of Australia.
  23. ^ "Our Calendar". Western Mail. Perth. 5 November 1915. p. 31. Retrieved 23 November 2013 – via National Library of Australia.
  24. ^ "Internal Troubles". Western Mail. Perth. 23 February 1917. p. 29. Retrieved 23 November 2013 – via National Library of Australia.
  25. ^ "Former Public Servant dies at home". The West Australian. Perth. 20 April 1954. p. 7. Retrieved 23 November 2013 – via National Library of Australia.
  26. ^ "Native Affairs". The Northern Times. Carnarvon, Western Australia. 17 October 1940. p. 3. Retrieved 23 November 2013 – via National Library of Australia.
  27. ^ "Mr. F. I. BRAY Dead". The West Australian. Perth. 7 October 1949. p. 2. Retrieved 24 November 2013 – via National Library of Australia.
  28. ^ "Native Affairs". Kalgoorlie Miner. Western Australia. 28 July 1948. p. 3. Retrieved 23 November 2013 – via National Library of Australia.
  29. ^ Kral, Inge (2012). "Everything was Different because of the Changing". Talk, Text and Technology: Literacy and Social Practice in a Remote Indigenous Community. Bristol, UK: Multilingual Matters. p. 113. ISBN 9781847697592. Retrieved 18 April 2016.
  30. ^ Wilson-Clark, Charlie (16 February 2004). "He heralded a new era for Aborigines". Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 18 April 2016.

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