Page:Aboriginal welfare 1937.djvu/8

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urged at the expense of the native, is that, what is perhaps the most important asset of this vast Commonwealth, the pastoral industry, would be in a sorry plight if deprived of its native labour in outback places where white labour is not only difficult to obtain, but often inferior in quality. In fact it is known that many pastoralists claim that their stations could not have been developed without aboriginal labour.

Until these dispossessed people can be provided for and gradually absorbed into suitable reservations, it is essential that effective legal and supervisory machinery be provided to protect them from abuse and imposition and to ensure relief from privation and disease. The young should also receive education of a vocational character to equip them to protect themselves in business dealings and enhance their value in employment.

The (c) class referred to as detribalized will be found mostly on the outskirts of country towns and mining camps. Many have never known any different environment, in fact, have little knowledge of native culture. What they know of hunting has depended upon civilized firearms; they cannot live without European food and clothing, or amuse themselves outside of the hotel, the billiard room, pictures or racecourse.

Although usually asserting their ability to look after their own earnings, they are invariably in need of protection from their own ignorance and improvidence.

The moral tone of these camps is often lower than that of the more primitive classes, as this type of people is usually too sophisticated to be controlled by the native laws and the moral code of the superior race. Consequently, the majority of the inmates are of mixed breed, many of the children are illegitimate, being lucky if their parents are of the same nationality and are living together. The unattached females, however are much in demand for domestic servants, and the males as station hands, drovers and for fencing, scrub-falling, horse-breaking, and contract work. This makes the removal of the unemployed dependants who are left behind in the camps a difficult matter.

Usually State school education is available for these children, whose attendance is compulsory, but objections at times are raised by the parents of white children because of the alleged unhealthy tone of the camp home life. To meet this objection, where numbers justify establishing a separate school, this has frequently been done.

It will be obvious that in the case of this type of native the need is for effective protection and supervision of the camp dependants, ensuring—

1. Sanitary living conditions.

2. Protection from abuse.

3. Moral control.

4. Support of their dependants by the able-bodied.

5. Proper upbringing of the children.

This has been met in Queensland either by establishing a village on reserved land a reasonable distance from the town, where the families have been helped to erect decent huts, enclose grounds, make gardens, provide water supply and sanitary conveniences, also school facilities if needed; or by transferring the families to a suitable settlement where the above conditions can be assured under efficient supervision.

The first measure is adopted where conditions are favourable as inflicting less hardship.

It is perhaps in regard to this class more than any others that drastic measures are needed for moral control and protection of females and suppression of miscegenation. The whole environment creates a taste for the delights of civilized life that are an irresistible snare to them, making them an easy prey to the unscrupulous white or alien.

In Queensland, for a quarter of a century, the marriage of whites and blacks has been rigidly restricted, and every encouragement has been given to marriage of cross breed aboriginals amongst their own race. The result is that 95 per cent of the crossbreed children born are the issue of purely native unions, and 80 per cent of these are born in wedlock.

There is wide difference of opinion as to what is due to the so-called half-caste, but, as already pointed out, not every half-breed is the child of a white father. Many may be of half aboriginal blood, but wholly aboriginal in nature and leanings.

This type, and those crosses of lower alien races, will be more happily absorbed by their mother's people in circumstances where they can be given vocational and domestic training to take their part in the development of a self-contained native community.

The superior type of half-breed, with the necessary intelligence and ambition for the higher civilized life, is entitled to the opportunity and help to make his place in the white community. But we must not be disappointed if what appears to be ambition turns out only to be a desire for freedom from supervision.

The system in Queensland provides for granting exemption to half-castes shown to be intelligent and well-conducted, and not living or associating with aboriginals. But perhaps 50 per cent of such cases have nothing to show after years of freedom, live from hand to mouth, often on the dole, and frequently drift hack to camp life, where they have to look for wives.

The case of these superior crossbreeds has exercised our department for some time, and, as the result of exhaustive inquiries in other countries and States, it has been decided that it is futile to expect these crossbreeds, no matter how light in colour, to successfully make a place for themselves in the civilized community without being equipped with the vocational knowledge and the respectable home background to overcome the handicap of the racial prejudice and inferiority complex. Without such equipment they cannot combat the drift to the ranks of the unemployed and to life in the slums.

Briefly, the scheme approved by my department, and of which a trial is soon to be given by the establishment of a half-caste industrial colony, is—

1. Industrial and social development of present settlements for full-blood and inferior type of half-castes.

2. Establishment of half-caste colonies for superior types of half-castes and quadroons now labouring under handicaps as in (1), ensuring—

Education for the children.

Benevolent supervision of community life.

Opportunities for protected home life and home industries.

Medical and health supervision.

Secondary vocational training for youths.

3. System of apprenticeship of rural school trainees to civilized trades or professions in safe home influence with co-operation of the State Children's and Apprenticeship Committee.