ABORIGINAL WELFARE.—INITIAL CONFERENCE OF COMMONWEALTH AND STATE ABORIGINAL AUTHORITIES. HELD AT CANBERRA. 21st TO 23rd APRIL. 1937.
At the the Premiers Conference held at Adelaide in 1930, it was decided that there should be a Conference of Chief Protectors and Boards controlling aborigines in the States and the Northern Territory.
2. In pursuance of that decision, the initial Conference was convened by the Commonwealth Government, and was held at Parliament House, Canberra.
3. The Minister for the Interior, the Honorable T. Peterson, M.P., who is vested with the control of aboriginals in the Northern Territory, opened the Conference.
4. The representatives of the Commonwealth and States were as follow:—
Mr. J. A. Carrodus, Secretary, Department of the Interior. Dr. C. E. Cook, C.B.E., Chief Protector of Aboriginals, Northern Territory.
New South Wales.
Dr. E. S. Morris, Member of the Aborigines Protection Board, New South Wales. Mr. B. S. Harkness, Member of the Aborigines Protection Board, New South Wales. Mr. A. C. Pettit, Secretary, Aborigines Protection Board, New South Wales.
Honorable H. S. Bailey, M.I.A., Chief Beeretery, Victoria, Chairman of the Board for the Protection of Aborigines. Mr. L. L. Chapman, Under-Secretary, Victoria, Vice-Chairman. of the Board for the Protection of Aborigines.
Mr. J. W. Bleakley, Chief Protector of Aboriginals, Queensland.
Mr. M. T. McLean, Chief Protector of Aboriginals, South Australia. Professor J. B. Cleland, Chairman of Advisory Council of Aboriginals, South Australia.
Mr. A. O. Neville, Commissioner of Native Affairs, Western Australia.
5. Mr. H. A. Barrenger, of the Department of the Interior, Canberra, acted as Secretary to the Conference.
6. The following resolutions were passed:—
DESTINY OF THE RACE.
That this Conference believes that the destiny of the natives of aboriginal origin, but not of the full blood, lies in their ultimate absorption by the people of the Commonwealth, and it therefore recommends that all efforts be directed to that end. (See p. 21.)
UNIFORMITY OF LEGISLATION.
That the details of administration, in accordance with the general principles agreed upon, be left to the individual States, but there shall be uniformity of legislation as far as possible. (See p. 21.)
EDUCATION AND EMPLOYMENT
That, subject to previous resolution, efforts of all State authorities should he directed towards the education of children of mixed aboriginal blood at white standards, and their subsequent employment under the same conditions as whites with a view to their taking their place in the white community on an equal footing with the whites. (See p. 21)
SUPERVISION OF FULL-BLOOD NATIVES.
That this conference affirms the principle that the general policy in respect of full-blood natives should be—
(a) To educate to white standard, children of the detribalized living near centres of white population, and subsequently to place them in employment in lucrative occupations, which will not bring them into economic or social conflict with the white community;
(b) To keep the semi-civilized under a benevolent supervision in regard to employment, social and medical service in their own tribal areas. Small local reserves selected for tribal suitability should be provided in these tribal areas where unemployable natives may live as nearly as possible a normal tribal life, and unobjectionable tribal ceremonies may continue and to which employees may repair when unemployed. The ultimate destiny of these people should be their elevation to class (a);
(c) To preserve as far as possible the uncivilized native in his normal tribal state by the establishment of inviolable reserves; each State or Territory determining for itself whether mission activities should be conducted on these reserves and the conditions under which they may be permitted. (See p. 34.)
Realizing that the pursuit of this policy and its ultimate realization, unless subject to enlightened guidance, may result in racial conflict, disastrous to the happiness and welfare of the coloured people, this Conference is of opinion that the Commonwealth should take such steps as seem desirable to obtain full information upon racial problem in America and South Africa for submission to a further conference of Chief Protectors to be held within two years. (See p. 35)
DEFINITION OF "NATIVE".
That the definition of "native" in any uniform legislation adopted by other States of the Commonwealth, be based on the definition contained in the Native Administration Act, 1905-1936 of the State of Western Australia. (See p. 21)
FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE FROM THE COMMONWEALTH.
That the Commonwealth give financial assistance towards the States most requiring it to assist them in the care, protection and education of natives which, unless extended, will bring discredit upon the whole of Australia.
This resolution is put forward for the following reasons:—
(1) That the principle adopted by this Conference of the ultimate absorption of the native race into the ordinary community can only be achieved by a considerably extended programme of development and education.
(2) That the work of the States is already saving to the Commonwealth a very considerable sum by reason of the fact that there is being maintained at the cost of the States a large number of people who would otherwise be in receipt of the invalid or old-age pension or other assistance directly from the Commonwealth for which they are now ineligible.
(3) That the people of all the States are already contributing the whole cost of the care of natives in the Northern Territory, and it is only equitable that the people of Australia should also assist in other parts of the Commonwealth.
(4) That following the precedent in other British dominions, it is reasonable that the Commonwealth Government should bear considerable part of the cost. (See p. 34.)