Page:Aboriginal welfare 1937.djvu/10

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and technical training to take their place properly equipped in the white community.

(h) Generally, to assist all classes of the aboriginal races to win to a position of self-respect and self-dependence.

Mr. BAILEY.—I suggest that further consideration of the matter introduced by Mr. Bleakley be postponed until after the luncheon adjournment.

PROPOSED SOCIO-ECONOMIC INVESTIGATION OF THE HALF-CASTE PROBLEM.

PROFESSOR CLELAND.—It is clear to me, after hearing Mr. Bleakley's statement, that conditions differ considerably in the various States, and that what may be applicable to high-rainfall areas in Cape York Peninsula, may not be applicable to the dry western portions of South Australia. I have prepared a memorandum embodying certain suggestions for an investigation into conditions as they exist in South Australia, and it is possible that some of the conclusions finally reached may conflict with those reached by Mr. Bleakley. The memorandum is as follows:—

The number of half-castes in certain parts of Australia is increasing, not as a result of additional influx of white blood, but following on inter-marriage amongst themselves, where they are living under protected conditions, such as at the Government aboriginal stations at Point Pearce and Point McLeay, in South Australia. This may he the beginning of a possible problem of the future. A very unfortunate situation would arise if a large half-caste population breeding within themselves eventually arose in any of the Australian States. It seems to me that there can be only one satisfactory solution to the half-caste problem, and that is the ultimate absorption of these persons in the white population. I think that this will not necessarily lead in any way to a deterioration of type, inasmuch as racial inter-mixtures seem, in most cases, to lead to increased virility.

The problem, however, should be faced at its beginning, and it is suggested that the whole question of the half-caste should be thoroughly investigated by some person specially trained in the study of social and of economic problems. Such a survey would include ascertaining the conditions under which these people live in the neighbourhood of country towns, on stations, and on government reserves. The best kind of occupation for these people, for instance, on cattle and sheep stations, or on farms, and the various possibilities for technical education should also be inquired into.

The investigation should also consider the best method for the gradual absorption of the half-caste into the community, going thoroughly into the question as to whether half-castes in general can assume responsibility and be reliable, of whether, on an average, they must be considered as belonging to the submerged, more or less, unemployable type of white. It is also advisable that some scheme should be got out by which the two sexes can have opportunities of mating and so marrying under suitable conditions.

Such, in brief outline, is the suggested scope of such a socio-economic investigation. Such a work could be begun with advantage in South Australia, and I have the permission of the Vice-Chancellor to say that the Council of the University of Adelaide would view favourably any suggestions submitted to it that such a survey should he carried out under the direction of its Department of Economics in conjunction with the Board for Anthropological Research of the University.

Though I have not express authority to say so, I have reason to think that the State would grant special facilities for the investigation. As the problem is one of value, not only to South Australia, but to most of the other States as well, and to the Commonwealth, I would suggest that the special expenses incurred—I think £1,000 a year for two years would probably be necessary—might be reasonably borne by the Commonwealth Government.

As far as the southern States are concerned, investigations could, I believe, be best carried out in South Australia, and the University in that State is prepared to undertake the direction of the work. It would be necessary, of course, to appoint a special investigator, who would have to be paid. The State would make available all the facilities it could, but I think that the actual expenses should be borne by the Commonwealth, as the results of the investigation would be for the benefit of the Commonwealth as a whole. If necessary, the work would ultimately be extended to the Northern Territory, Western Australia and Queensland. It is very important to ascertain whether the half-caste is able to take his place in the community under present conditions, or whether, on the average, he will always prove to be only a grown-up child who will have to be protected and nursed.

WESTERN AUSTRALIAN LEGISLATION.

Mr. NEVILLE.—The opinion held by Western Australian authorities is that the problem of the native race, including half-castes, should be dealt with on a long-range plan. We should ask ourselves what will be the position, say, 50 years hence; it is not so much the position to-day that has to be considered. Western Australia has gone further in the development of such a long-range policy than has any other State, by accepting the view that ultimately the natives must be absorbed into the white population of Australia. That is the principal objective of legislation which was passed by the Parliament of Western Australia in its last session. I followed closely the long debates which accompanied the passage of that measure, and although some divergence was, at times, displayed, most members expressed the view that sooner or later the native and the white populations of Australia must become merged. The Western Australian law to which I have referred is based on the presumption that the aboriginal of Australia sprang from the same stock as we did ourselves; that is to say, they are not negroid, but give evidence of Caucasian origin. I think that the Adelaide Anthropological Board has voiced the opinion that there is no such thing as atavism in the aboriginal, and Dr. Cilento has expressed the view to which I have referred. We have accepted that view in Western Australia.

In Western Australia the problem of the aborigines has three phases. In the far—north there are between 7,000 and 8,000 pure-blooded aborigines; in the middle-north the number of half-castes is increasing, and the full-blooded aborigines are becoming detribalized, and in the south-west there are about 5,000 coloured people. We have dropped the use of the term "half-caste". As a matter of fact, in the legislation passed last session the term "aborigines" has been discarded altogether; we refer to them as natives whether they be full-blooded or half-caste. Quadroons over the age of 21 years are, however, excluded. From childhood quadroons are to be