Page:Aboriginal welfare 1937.djvu/32

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Mr. PETTITT.—I think the psychological effect of the use of the word "chain" should be considered. People object to the chain on the ground that it is a reversion to the methods of the old feudal days. Could not a light wire rope he used?

Mr. NEVILLE.—We have to consider the safety of our officers, who are sometimes required individually to bring in half a dozen natives from places 400 miles distant.

Mr. BAILEY.—The native who is brought in may be innocent of the charge, and yet may have to walk that long distance.

Mr. NEVILLE.—That is true. I have not always been favorable to the methods of the police. I am glad to say the bad old days are past and so are the bad old methods.

Professor CLELAND.—I think we ought to take care to make it clear in any motion that is passed that neck chains may be used only for humane reasons.

Mr. BAILEY.—It seems to me that this subject should he dealt with by the representatives of Queensland, Western Australia and the Northern Territory. We should not drag in the other States, in which it is never necessary to use chains in the circumstances that have been described.

Mr. NEVIILLE.—What we wish to do is to affirm that the methods now being employed to bring in prisoners from long distances commend themselves to the Conference.

Dr. COOK.—If the Conference is not willing to say that the neck chain is preferable to the handcuff when natives have to travel long distances under escort, we may as well leave the subject alone.

Mr. BAILEY.—Why could not a band round the waist meet the cause.

Mr. NEVILLE.—The natives frequently escape when they are secured by the ankles and the waist; but they have not been able to escape from the neck chain.

Resolved

That where, for the safety of the escort and the security of the prisoners, it is necessary to subject the prisoners to restraint, it is the opinion of the representatives from the States and Territory concerned that the use of the neck chain while travelling through bush country is preferable to the use of handcuffs, for humanitarian reasons and having regard to the comfort of the prisoners.

POLICE AS PROTECTORS.

Mr. CARRODUS.—Strong criticism has been offered of the practice of appointing police as protectors, it being alleged that in that capacity the officer concerned is able to act in the dual role of prosecutor and defendant. I should like the conference to express an opinion on this subject. 0ur view is that, as the financial position improves, the practice of appointing police as protectors should he discontinued, but that it would be impossible to adopt that general principle immediately. It would cost a large amount of money to duplicate the personnel in many parts of Western Australia and the Northern Territory, in order that there might be both a police officer and a protector. In any case when a policeman prosecutes, a protector is sent to watch the interests of the native concerned.

Resolved

That further discussion of this subject be postponed until the next conference.

WOMEN PROTECTORS

Mr. CARRODUS.—We are frequently being requested, chiefly by women's organisations, to appoint women protectors in the Northern Territory. It is claimed that in many cases where lubras are concerned, the services of women protectors would be more beneficial, generally speaking, than the services of men protectors. We are prepared to admit that in some instances the appointment of women protectors is desirable, particularly where there are big communities; but in the bush country, it would he practically impossible to appoint women protectors. Such appointments would involve the appointment of protectors for the women protectors. We do not think that the time has yet arrived for the appointment of women protectors.

Mr. NEVILLE.—We have had some experience in Western Australia of women protectors. I do not think that the organizations which are asking for the appointment of women protectors mean women protectors at all. They have in mind women inspectors, which is a very different thing. Some years ago, in compliance with the request of several organisations, we appointed half a dozen women protectors, but they did absolutely nothing at all. They were honorary officers, and gradually dropped out of all activity. In only one case did one of those woman protectors make a report to the department. We have since been requested again to make such appointments, but I cannot see that they would have any beneficial result. Under our act we are given authority to appoint such inspectors. There is also provision under the act to appoint women medical officers. We have authority to inspect all natives, whether suspected of disease or not. Personally, I think that that goes a little too far. It should only be necessary to inspect natives suspected of disease. I think that as far as possible women should be inspected only by women, and this is the departmental procedure proposed. I have already given instructions that no native woman is to be examined, except by a doctor or some responsible woman in the district.

Mr. CARRODUS.—How could that be done in the distant inland?

Mr. NEVIILE.—Men do not wish to make such inspections, and wherever it is possible for the inspections to be made by women they should he so made. That would be about the only reason why we would appoint women inspectors. As regards native girls employed in domestic service a woman inspector is, of course, more fitted to look after them than a male inspector would be.

Mr. HARKNESS.—It seems to me to be a matter which might be left to the discretion of the individual States.

Mr. BAILEY.—I agree with that.

Mr. CARRODUS.—I should like to obtain an expression of opinion on the subject from the representatives of the bigger States as to whether or not it is practicable to employ women protectors. Some organizations which interest themselves in native welfare have urged us to appoint women whose duty it would he to run about the bush like police officers inspecting the natives. It is not practicable under our conditions, though something of the kind might he done in regard to big native settlements near the towns.

Mr. McLEAN.—I think the idea would only be practicable in the bush if women attached to the stations were appointed protectors. I do not think that women belonging to the organizations referred to should be appointed, because, for the most part, they know-very little of the conditions affecting the natives. In many instances, the points brought forward by organizations in the cities are utterly ridiculous when applied to bush natives.

Mr. BLEAKLEY.—In Queensland, we had a woman inspector for many years. We found that, while her services were useful to inspect girls in service within a hundred miles of the cities, she was quite useless in the more distant areas.