Page:Aboriginal welfare 1937.djvu/36

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Mr. NEVILLE.—Prior to the passing of our present act we had had similar experiences to those outlined by Mr. Carrodus. It was almost impossible to bring a man to book because the word "cohabit" only was used. Since then the law has been substantially amended. I direct attention to section 46 of the Native Administration Act in which, as will be seen, the words "sexual intercourse", "habitually living", "cohabiting" and "soliciting" are used. The section also gives us power in other ways. But difficulty is created by reason of the fact that, action must be taken within six months. It is often impossible to tell whether a child is the offspring of two natives until after it is born. However, we have had some success with the new law and I feel sure that equal success may later be attained under the provisions applying in the Northern Territory. We have adopted the method of making inquiries for ourselves in addition to relying entirely on police investigations, and we have found it satisfactory. The new act came into force last December and at, least a dozen cases instituted under its provisions have good prospects of success.

Mr. BLEAKEY.—I suggest that a motion be carried to the effect that it is desirable that uniform legislation should be passed to provide for the effective protection of native females.

Mr. CARRODUS.—I think it will be satisfactory if we merely have the record that the subject was discussed by the Conference and that the provisions of various State acts were described.

Mr. BAILEY.—In that case we will not take a motion on the subject.

REPORT OF PROCEEDINGS.

Mr. CARRODUS.—Although we shall have a Hansard record of the proceedings of the Conference I think it would be desirable to print a summary of the resolutions in the front of the report. The report, of course, is not verbatim. It is a running record.

Mr. BAILEY.—I think that that course would be appropriate.

MATTERS FOR POST-CONFERENCE CONSIDERATION.

Professor. CLELAND.-As we shall have now reached the end of our agenda I wish to suggest one or two additional matters for consideration. I refer first to the traffic in wild dog scalps and suggest that it should be strictly controlled under licence.

Dr. COOK.—Perhaps that subject and also the control of central Australian reservations, referred to in the agenda, Item (5) (h), could be referred to the representatives of South Australia, Western Australia and the Northern Territory for conference after the conclusion of the meetings of the full Conference.

Mr. NEVILLE.—That course will suit me.

MATTERS FOR CONSIDERATION BY NEXT CONFERENCE.

Mr. BLEAKLEY—Before the Conference concludes I should like consideration to be given to the following proposals—

That it is advisable in the interests of natives in the northern areas that a leprosarium be established in a suitable place in the tropics.

That aborigines employed in the pastoral and agricultural industries should have a definite basic value placed upon their labour sufficient to enable them to live in comfort and support the unemployed members of their families.

That it is desirable that there should be some fund established from which aged natives living in a civilized manner and not eligible for Commonwealth Old-age and Invalid Pensions should be able to obtain such benefits.

That it is desirable that far as may be practicable in each State uniform measures should he adopted for the control relief and protection of the detribalized, particularly in regard to their engagement in employment and business dealings.

That in the opinion of this Conference the question of health is one of the most important factors in the aboriginal protection problem and it is desirable that as far as may be practicable there should be some uniform and definite policy governing the prevention and control of disease, including the fixing of a nutritious and balanced diet, dental care and other necessary health measures.

Mr. BAILEY.—It is hardly desirable to turn our attention to such important matters within a few minutes of the conclusion of the Conference.

Mr. CARRODUS.—I suggest that the matters referred to by Mr. Bleakley be listed for consideration at a subsequent conference.

Mr. BLEAKLEY.—Several of those matters were contained in the motion submitted by me in the first part of the agenda paper; but as to some extent they may he regarded as details of the general policy, I shall be satisfied with the course suggested if that is the wish of the Conference.

REPRESENTATIONS BY MISSIONARY AND OTHER INTERESTED ORGANIZATIONS.

The representations submitted by the National Missionary Council of Australia, the Victorian Aboriginal Group, the Australian Aborigines' League, the Women's Christian Temperance Union of South Australia and others were fully considered by the Conference.

Definite decisions in regard to many of the subjects mentioned were arrived at. Other matters were deferred for consideration at subsequent Conference.

CONFERENCE SECRETARIAT.

A Secretariat was established for the collation of matters to be discussed at future conferences, and it was notified that all bodies and organisations desiring to submit representations for consideration should forward them to the Secretary, Conference of Commonwealth and State Aboriginal Authorities, Department of the Interior, Canberra.

EXPRESSION OF THANKS.

Mr. BAILEY.—As the Conference has now concluded its business I wish to express thanks to the Commonwealth Government for having made this assembly possible. The exchange of views and experiences by the members of the Conference must prove definitely beneficial to all interests concerned and should lend to improved administration in respect of the aborigines generally. I take the opportunity, also, to thank Mr. Barrenger for his assistance as secretary and in preparing reports for the press. I stated at the beginning of the Conference that I did not expect to be present at all the sittings, but I am glad that it has been possible for me to do so.

Dr. MORRIS.—We are all under a debt of gratitude to the Chairman for the exceptionally able manner in which he has conducted the work of the Conference. I am sure that all the members of the Conference would like this fact recorded.

Resolved—
That hearty thanks be extended to the Chairman for the very efficient manner in which he has discharged his duties.

Mr. CARRODUS.—I wish to say on behalf of the Minister for the Interior, who is unable to be present, that he appreciates the work that has been done in connexion with the Conference. These meetings have been extremely helpful to all concerned and must prove permanently beneficial in our work.

The Conference concluded.

By Authority: L. F. Johnston, Commonwealth Government Printer. Canberra.