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The Aboriginal and Australian society

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The Parliamentary Library


Research ReIllueikt R el ee d2‘1- i 130 %1 I°The Aboriginal and Australian society.

This Paper prepared by: Education and Welfare Group.

Data: 4 September 1973












Page No.











U. 12.


Porulation and Location

Aboriginal and Australian-European Culture

Land and Land Rights




Aboriginal Housing

Legal . Status

Aboriginal Protest : Black Paver and White Backlash

Australian Government Policies



"Almost 90 per cent of the Aboriginal community is

living in a state of absolute, acute social derxession...

Nobody know's at this moment how many houses are needed

to rehouse adequately the Aboriginal people but

one could guess that if there are 25,000 to 30,000

Aboriginal families in Australia, some 20,000 of them

are inadequately housed. The same situation anDlies in

education. Only a handful of them have reached the top

classes in secondary schools.

In some areas of Australia 90 per cent of the

Aboriginal community is never in full employment ...

If one drives to an Aboriginal reserve anyvhere in Australia one notice that the municipal authority has stopped making the road half a mile from the reserve

and that the post office has not bothered to take a telephone to these people... Even in very large

Aboriginal communities ... there is a totally inadequate

postal service ... One of the most devastating areas

of neglect it could be called a disaster area - is that of health ... Throughout large areas of Australia -in central Australia, northern Australia and Western Australia - the infant mortality rate is amongst the

highest in the world."

(Extract from the speech by Hon- G. Bryant, Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, on the

State Grants (Aboriginal Advancement) Bill,

Parliamentary Debates, 7 March 1973).



No certain source or date of arrival can be set for the Australian Aborigines (1) though it can be said that they have inhabited Austria for at least 20,000 years. It has been suggested that they migrated to Australia through

South East Asia, probably by sea. It is unclear whether they developed their distinctive "Australoid" features after long isolation in Australia or whether they in fact migrated as Australoids. Support for the latter hypothesis comes from

discovery of pockets of similar people in India, Ceylon, Japan,

Indonesia and New Guinea.

The estimated „I?o p ulation of Australian Abori g

ines in

1788 was about 300,000. (2) They are thought to have been divided into about 500 different tribes, though again this is

-unclear, (3) as the term"tribehas no fixed meaning in the Australian context.

Vithin the tribe were several types of social groups based on kinship which set up the social structure of the tribe. They related each individual to all other individuals in the tribe and defined his relationship to totems and sacred

areas of land. These various relationships together defined

an extremely complex dynamic system in which the individuals

lived. The foundations of the system were the totemic organisation and beliefs of the tribe and these were inextricably

tied to the land, with consequences described below.

The Aboriginal's relationship with his environment was radically different from the white man's. He depended less.

on technological skills to subjugate the environment than on

specialised knowledge and understanding to allow him to fit in with his environment, and to allow the environment to support

him without him disturbing the often fragile ecosystems of

which he was part.

(1) Berndt, R.M. & Berndt, C.N. The World of the First Australians, Ure Smith, Sydney, 1964, Pp. 1-7.

(2) Jones, F.L., A Demographic Survey of the Aboriginal Population. of the Northern Territory', -rdth Special Reference to Bathurst Island Mission..• Australian Institute of Aboriginal Studies, Canberra, 1963, p. 1.

(3) Berndt, op.cit., T.?. 28-42.


One aspect of this non-technological society was that the concept of ownership had a different meaning for Aborigines. They did possess items of personal property which were rarely, if ever, lent, but at the same time had

a complex system of communal property and reciprocity of gifts. This is.a source of considerable conflict to Aborigines in contact with the more acquisitive white Australian society.

Despite the lack of complex technology and the basically subsistence economy, there was some trade between

tribes. However division of labour was generally unsophisticated.

Each person was ex p ected to master sufficient skills to keep.

himself alive and no-one, no matter how skilled in a particular

craft, could ex p ect to live on the proceeds of his skill. Nor was there a privileged class based on birth or wealth.

The basic skills of hunting and food gathering were taught to youn_c_ r Aborigines by their clan and especially by their parents. The cultural knowledge needed to retain the structure of their society was handed down by the elders

during and after initiation. Thus the existence of the clan,

if not the tribe, with elders as the repositories of the

totemic, mythic and ritual knowledge was vital to the stable existence of Aboriginal society. If the line were to break, then this oral knowledge would be lost,and the culture would not be able to recover. It was on this culture that the

rich oral, dramatic and visual art of the Aborigines depended, so that destruction of the culture would result in total loss of all distinctively Aboriginal artists.


In some regions, notably Arnhem Land, Aborigines probably came into contact with other cultures long before 1788. However, they seem to have tolerated the visitors well and changed their way of life very little in response to these

new stimuli.

In 1788 the First Fleet landed at Botany Bay and took possession of Australia in the name of the crown. George III directed Governor Phillip "to endeavour by every possible means to open intercourse with the natives, and to

conciliate their affections, enjoining all our subjects to live

in amity and kindness with them. And if any of our subjects

shall wantonly destroy them or give them any unnecessary interrup tion in the exercise of their several occupations, it is our will and pleasure that you do cause such offenders

to be brouOt to punishment according to the degree of the

offence." (1)

However the situation of two strange peoples with

two strange cultures, neither understanding the language or

customs of the other and each claiming the same land contained all the elements necessary for the conflict which resulted.

Within a month the policy of "amity and trust" had miscarried and within a year it had failed completely. (2)

Berndt believes the Aboriginalto have been generally Passive and retreatist.

"Throug hout the long history of culture clash ...

there have been few internally sponsored reactions against what was ha p pening. Acceptance and retreat were more usual." ( 5)

McQueen takes an op p osite view and in a recent lecture spoke of an aggressive Aboriginal Policy of resistance to invasion, a point of view borne out by Docker, who has detailed. a series of murders, often massacres, committed on both sides between 1788 and l928. is possible that the seizure of land by the European was enough to provoke an otherwise retreat 1st

people into open conflict.

Land was for the Aboriginal -

"the whole of the earth, the p lace of the Spirits, the Churches, the homes and the source of life itself. .


When the white man took land or what he called "land", he took

from the Aboriginala vital component of that which made his Plan

and code of living intelligible. (6)

(1) Quoted in LiPpman L. To Achieve oar Country, 1970, p. 25. (2) Stanner, W.B.H. ifter the Dree , . ,ain n-, p.9. (3) Berndt, R.N. "The Concept of Protest" in A Question of Choice,


(4) Decker, E.G., Simply 7 .Iuman Beings, Brisbane, 1964.

(5) Rowley, C.D. "Aborigines :1 . 1(1 the Land" in Identitv, July 1971,

(6) See below, p.21.



In a less subtle ray the material basis of Aborigin.a life was also under attack. Rowley notes how . white settlement on already occupied land meant the conflict of two incompatible systems of land . use. White exploitation of the land for

agriculture and sheep farming vastly reduced the sup p ly of food obtainable from hunting or gathering. (1) With the material base of Aboriginal society undermined, Aborigines resisted white occupation. And as Curthoys notes: •

This resistance met retaliation from the whites in defence Of themselves and their property ... (but) white action never remained at the level of retaliation for the seizure of land in spite of Aboriginal.

resistance soon became a policy of aggression."(2)

Killing the Aboriginaloffered one solution to a situation in which two virtually exclusive civilizations existed side by side in a state of undeclared war. Docker notes:

"Europeans ... (were) ... freed in most cases from the risk of unpleasant legal consequences. Guerilla. tactics by small numbers of natives invariably

entailed the swift extermination of the Aboriginal race in that immediate locality."

Those Aborigines in contact with the Euro p ean who did not die in conflict often died from European diseases.

(1) Rowley, C.D., The Destruction ot_m22Lizit-al (2) Curthovs, A. "Destruction of Aboriginal Society" in Arena, No.27, r.42. (3) Docker, E.G. Simply Airn_an Beings, pn.57-'58.


British Intervention

In the early 1830's the attitude of British governing circles toward native subjects of the Empire changed partially as a result of pressures from British humanitarian movements. Some effect was felt in Australia. -Emphasis changed from

p rotecting the British settler against Aboriginal hostilities to protecting the Aborigindlfrom the aggression of the settler. (1)

This was some slight indication that the settlers were winning their war against the Aborigine. Mission schools were established and again provide some indication that sections of the colony were attem pting to Pay off what they saw as an plready heavy

moral debt.

As early as 1837 a Select Committee of the British

House of Commons, investigating the treatment of indigenous populations-in the colonies spoke of the "plain and sacred right" of the Aborigines to their own land. One consequence of the

Select Committee's Report was the establishment of native

protectorates, at first in New South Wales. By 1843, five of the States had appointed protectors. (The sixth, Tasmania, had by this time almost exterminated its native population). But

protection proved unworkable and conflict continued largely unabated. In 1849 a Select Committee of the Legislative Council of New South Wales recommended that the system of protection be abolished as ineffectual.


With the failure of the protection policy and in some areas a continuing agressive defence by Aborigines against white encroachment on their land, the British government's - involvement waned. From about 1850 control of policy passed to the settler


In 1859 Charles Darwin's On the .Origins of the Species was published and provided a cohesive rationalisation of previous actions and future attitudes of disregard of the Aboriginal.

The Aborigines were, it seemed, destined to perish and Anglo-Saxons, as the fittest of the races, to prevail. Government disregard of

(1) ibid, p.90.


Aboriginal affairs could be justified by quoting Darwin to the effect that free play must be the influences of natural selection if the Aboriginal was to adapt to the new environment. Any action by a government T/Tould interfere with natural forces.

Accordingly no government action should be taken. • Clear indication of the a p plication of social-Darwinism can be found in the following sentiments of a European Australian in 1076:

H ie invoke and remorselessly fulfil the inexorable law of natural selection when exterminating the inferior Australian and Maori races ... The world

is better for it; and would be incalculably better still were we loyally to accept the lessons thus taught by nature - and consistently to a pp ly the same principles to our conventional practice: by

preservin g the varieties most perfect in every way instead of actually prombting the non-survival of the fittest by protecting the propagation of the imprudent, the diseased, the defective, the

criminal. Thus we surely lower the average of, and tend to destroy, the human race almost as surely as if we were openly to resort to communism." (1)

Darwinism also provided a rationale for the European

Australian belief in the superiority of European culture and values over those of the Aboriginal- a belief that found some expression in the assimilation policy and the various attemp ts to inculcate European values into the Aboriginal people.

Seg_regation and ProteCtion

Following the period of laissez-faire and towards the end of the nineteenth century protection was revived. Aborigines were rounded up and placed on reserves under the protection of appointed Protectors, including missionaries and justices of the

peace. By 1911 every State (except Tasmania) had adopted special legislation with the emphasis on protection •and restriction.

(1) Rusden, H.K. "Labour and Capital", Melbourne Review, , (1876) ouoted in Stevens, F.S. Pacis7: T.e Australian Exrerience, Vol. 2, p.16.


These laws (some of which remain unrepealed) allowed for an Aborigindlto be forcibly placed on, or removed from, a reserve. Friends and relatives had to seek permission to visit the reserve. Children were made wards of State and could be

separated from their p arents by the Chief Protector. The

protected Aboriginalcould not vote, drink alcohol, or administer

his own financial affairs. Marriage had to follow the European .(1 style. Aboriginal culture was denied. )•

. Those outside the reserves, on the fringes of country

towns or on pastoral p roperties, lived in a subject relationship to the white man.

In the more sparsely populated settled northern and central regions of Australia, once resistance had been quelled Aborigines provided a considerable potential labour force. On the pastoral

p roperties which came to depend on Aboriginal labour, relations between the races were almost feudal. As Fink notes:

"Station managers regarded their Aboriginal workers as part of the property and treated them as dependent children who could not be expected to

assume individual responsibilities ... " (2)

And Stanner notes (of pastoral properties in the 1930's):

"The Aborigines were looked on and used almost as fre3 goods of nature. For such work as they did

they were given a little payment in kind. It was a sort of peonage. I do not think there was a single element in the whole system of life - land,

food, shelter, jobs, pay and the safety of women

and children, even access to and protection by the

law - in which they were not at great disadvantage and without remedy. The dominance of European interests was total, unduestioned and inexpressably self-centred-"


(1) Lippman, I. To Achieve Our Countr y, p.35.

(2) Fink, R. "The Changing Aborigines of Western Australia". ,Transactions of the New York Academy of Science, Series II, 20 (1957-'58), 651. (3) Stanner, op.cit., p.12.

In effect the Aborigim l lon or outside the reserves was deprived

of almost all the freedom and rights of Australian society.


Under the policy of assimilation, the governments of Australia undertook, in effect, to "rectify" this deprivation of rights. The Aboriginalwas to -It

attain the same manner of living as other Australians, enjoying the same rights and privileges, accepting the same responsibilities, observing the same customs and being influenced by the same beliefs, hopes and lcyalties."(1)

This policy was extended only to part-Aborigines in contact with white AUstralia. Tribal Aborigines were retained on inviolable reserves, still largely. deprived of rights. Aboriginal compliance was taken for granted desnite the fact that one major

right was being denied - the right to live according to Aboriginal tradition-Assimilation was officially adopted as State and Federal government policy in 1937 but did not prove successful

even. amongst Aborigines in the centres of European Australian society. (2)

In 1965 a new attitude towards formulating a basis for relations between European and Aboriginal society was adopted. At an Aboriginal Welfare Conference of Kinisters and Officials, held at Adelaide in July 1965, the formal definition of

assimilation was amended.

"The same manner of living as other Australians" as in the original text v-as amended to "a similar manner of living" and an element of choice ("will choose to attain") as introduced (theoretically) thoue any alternatives were not encouraged.(3)

(1) Native 'elfare . jIeetinr of Commonwealth State Ministers, • Canberra, 5- 4 September 1951. (2) See below, p.65 (3) For subsequent developments including p resent Government policy see p.0



"Inevitable Europeanization" (1) was the accepted end

of Aborigines. In 1969, the Hon. W. C. Wentworth, then Commonwealth- Minister in charge of Aboriginal Affairs, urged anthropologists at an ANZAAS conference to concentrate on the study of Aborigines, noting,•

"The field is going. The next decade will offer opportunities significantly less than those of the last decade: and by the eighties it is probable that there will be little more available for 'urgent record."



The first accurate survey of the Australian Aboriginal population was carried out in the Census of 1966. Figures relate to those persons who describe themselves as being 50 per cent or more Aboriginal or simply as "Aboriginal". These are set out

below (Table I). (They includepersons loss than 50 per cent Aboriginal - the "simply" Aboriginal - and exclude persons of 50 per cent Aboriginal blood stating their race as "European").

With the 1967 repeal of Section 127 of the Constitution it was no longer necessary for the constitutional purposes of determining the Australian population, to identify "Aborigines", defined for this turpose as -cersons of greater than half Aboriginal

blood. Accordingly the cuestion of race was redesigned for the 1971 Census. Respondents were only required to state if they considered themselves of European origin, Aboriginal origin, etc. Preliminary figures from the 1971 Census are set out below (Table I).

(1) Berndt, op. cit., p. 434.

(2) 1 ,?ent7:Torth, U.C. "Persnectives"•in Berndt, R.M. A (Alestion of Choice, p.9 ).

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Aboriginal Population by Age (grouped ages) Census - Australia - 1966 and 1971

TOTAL AUSTRALIA 80,207 106,290

* "not stated" figures allocated to age groupings.

Estithatec of the Aboriginal birth rate

The age structure of the Aboriginal population is very young (Table 11) and guarantees extremely rapid rates of growth over the next generation even at moderate levels of fertility. Cawte has suggested that the present Aboriginal birth rate is

around 40 per 1,000 live births, rising to 50 in some full blood (1) f groups. of live births in Australia are Aboriginal).

Jones estimates a birth rate of 44 per 1,000 live births and a growth rate for the Aboriginal T)opulation of 3.4 per cent per annum - implying a doubling of the Aboriginal population by 1986. (2)

As such the Aboriginal growth rate is almost twice that of the overall Australian population.

(1) Cawte, J.E. "Psychological AduF:tment to Cultural Cane: The Case of the Australian Aborigine. (Pa p er presented to 1,: orld Psychiatric Conference, Sydney, 1969). (2) F.Lancaster Jones, The AborigjnaT Population of Australia:

Present Ditributien anC, Irnhable i_utcre 8ro7 ,th, AJitJ, 1970, p.43.


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The Aboriginal population can be sub-divided into five major groups.

(a) tribal Aborip .ines, livin- nomadically;

(b) bush or semi-tribal AboriF rj.nes, living in detribalizing, multi-tribal communities at Christian missions and government settlements, mostly in the north and centre of Australia: a few live at more remote outstations and still fever remain

semi-nomadic for at least part of the year;

(c) outback Aborigines, living in residential camps on the pastoral properties as stockmen or house-girls. The main pastoral p rop erties are in the Northern Territory and Queensland.- (There are approximately 189 pastoral

properties employing Aborigines in the Northern Territory, with a total of 4,305 Aborigines living there; 2,733 adults are employed).

(d) frin d-Jellers of mixed descent living in J]ianty settlements on the outskirts of country towns. These usually comprise itinerant Aborigines visiting towns for a holiday or for medical attention. Many fringe settlements have become permanent. A few fringe dwellers pass into the towns to

"assimilate" with the Europeans. The majority of Aborigines in the "urban" population are concentrated around the country townships.

(e) citv frin cfe ac crellers, usually congregating in a few streets of the older slum suburbs of the capitals having come from the country in search of work. 8.6% of the Aborirrinal population in 1966 and 14.7% in 1971 were

located in -metropolitan areas.

Each of those five categories indicates a degree of contact between Aboriginal culture and European Australian

culture-. The consequences of the "culture-contact" for each

of the groans vu be described later. Some of the conflicting

elements of the two cultures are set out here.



The tribal Aboriginal p opulation exists within a static kinshi p , spiritualistic society which is held together and defined by

(a) a locality (land); (b) a language; (c) complex social interpersonal relationships based on authority, status and kinship relationships; (d) a living culture, transmitted verbally from one

generation to another.

Relationships are regulated by laws and customs, s p ecific to a p articular kinship group, imparted by tribal elders and invoked by recourse to spiritualism. Dr lie Page notes:

"The Aboriginal child develops and organizes his life around a finely balanced spectrum of spiritual, human and material values of which the material values assume the least importance."


In contrast Euro p ean culture is increasingly materalistic and one in which peo p le are searching for spiritual values and human relationships. The historical consequence of the contact of the two cultures was greater for Aboriginal culture.

Tribal organization fragmented and family grouping became increasingly unstable. Very fel , tribal Aborigines remain but the four remaining subdivisions of the Aboriginal population (semi-tribal to city fringe dweller) retain elements of

Aboriginal culture varying from close traditional identification, to simple ethnic identity, to com plete assimilation into European society. Some important aspects in :Jhich. Aboriginal culture continues to diverge from the traditional values

of European Australian society are set out below.


(a) Time : in Aboriginal culture small segments of time are of little significance. As Gallacher notes:

(1) Dr K. Le Page "Aborigines in the Community", Australian Frontier Consultation, Adelaide, February 1966, p.11. ' v•


"They lived life on a broader canvas bounded only by night and day and the seasons. To introduce them to our time value p oses a problem of considerable magnitude." (1)

(b) Savinfl : as opposed to western culture with its emphasis on saving for security for the future, the concept of saving would have been irrelevant in the food gathering economy of the Aboriginal.

(c) Future orientation : the preoccu p ation in Aboriginal

culture is with the present and the past, not with the future or future needs.

(a) Competition : in western culture emphasis is on the individual, or individul competition and personal effort. For the Aboriginal group-goRls are more important. Co-operation rather than competitiveness is stressed. There Aboriginal and Western culture meet, Aboriginal co-operation has both positive and negative value. Thus, Iippmarnhas noted in the

school situation:-

"Excelling , Putting one's head above the crowd, is frowned upon. Co-operating and assisting the weak comes first." (2)

This' has detrimental consequences for Aboriginal children in a system that emphasises individual effort.

On the other hand, Galley has noted that

"An AboriEinal community, bound together by strong bonds of kinship, can do more for the lonely, sick or aged than can the modern welfare state with all its vast resources." (3)

(e) Work : in the Aborigines indigenous state work was necessary for -survival. However, according to Gallacher:-

(1) Gallacher, J.D. "Some Problems Facing An EducF4ticn in A Programme of Social Change", in Dunn, S.S. and 7atn, C.M. (eds) Aborip-ines and Education, p.100. (2). Lippmann, To Achieve Our Country, 1972, p.60. (3) Galley, N.J.C., "Family and -Kinship in Ahori ni Australia"

in Throssell, H. (ed.), Etilnic Panollities in -alif.2f, 1968.


... for the Aborigines, their 1-ork vas a part of the on-going unified activity of living, not, as in our case, an activity occurring within a separate and rigorously defined portion of the day." (1)

In these and other respects the two cultures diverge. Vhere the individual Aboriginalhas internalised elements of both cultures a conflict of cultures within the individual may occur. Internatization of conflicting cultures

The • process of internalisation of norms and values of a society (socialisation) makes the individual and his behaviour acce ptable to society and society intelligible to the individual. The process is two dimensional:

(a) primary socialisation; here the family acts as socialising agent.

(b) secondary socialisation; the school,peer groups, media, etc. ("generalised others") act as agents.

Socialisation involves:-

(i) inculcation of basic disciplines; (ii) instillation of aspirations, of goals to be attained and an orientation toward achievement;

(iii) teaching social roles and supporting attitudes;

(iv) the provision of individuals with identities (in relation to nsignificant and generalised others"). One conseouence of a mass,heterogeneous society is a veaker sense of identity; socialisation is less dependent on sex, kinship' or ethnicity. In contrast in p reliterate traditional society, identity and aspiration are more securely fixed.

In a small homogeneous tradition-bound society socialisation may be smooth and uniform. The Child has access to a great part of the culture ,;Thich is lived out before his eyes. Most socialising agencies sup p ort each other in socialising him. In

contrast industrial society is fragmented and heterogeneous. The Child will find situations for which he is unpre pared which will be largely unintelligible to him. Secondary socialisation

----------- ____-___

(1) Gallacher, op.cit., p.101.


will then be more problematic. The values of the child's peer

groups may not always coincide with those of his family group

and some form of deviance may evolve. In most cases, however,

secondary socialisation forces have similar values and goals

and the two dimensions of the process are mutually supportive.

Primary socialisation is reinforced. Where, however, it is

contradicted by secondary socialisation the individual must "choose" .which values he will pursue. He will be .less effectively socialised as a result. This occurs in the case of Aborigines, immigrants and others coming into contact with an alien society.

The Aboriginal child's primary socialisation takes

place in the Aboriginal group. In the schools, on the missions

and government reserves, on the fringes and in the slums of

western society, the Aboriginal child is exposed to the secondary socialisation processes of European-Australia. A-tension-thus

exists between primary socialisation, upheld by the parents and secondary socialisation inculcated in the school in its

text books, by the media, etc. In general, the values imparted by the latter are unsupported at home. The child may understand

them and accept them only in an incomplete and superficial way.

(In addition, the values of industrial society are fragmentary,

and often contradictory. Industrial society is Unable effectively to

socialise its own offspring, far less those of a traditional

society). Socialisation will thus be incomplete.

The person caught between two cultures, not fully socialised by either, has been called "marginal man".

(Stonequist,1937: Golovensky, 1952). (1)

"The marginal man is one who is poised in psycholo g ical uncertainty between. to (or more) social worlds; reflectir k7, in his soul . the discords and harmonies, re

p ulsions and attractions of these

worlds, one of which is often 'dominant over the other; within which membership is implicitly if not explicitly based l

aDoll birth or ancestry (race

or nationality) and where exclusion removes the individual from a system of group relations." (2)

(1) Stcnequist, E.V., The T .iare.inal ran: A Stedi_1122erson-1_ity and. Culture Conflict. i,ew York, 1937. Golovensky, D.L. "The Marginal Nan Concept: An Analysis and Critique" in Social Forces, No.30, 1952, pp.333-339.

(2) Sionequist,

Ilavin been full y soci f.flised in neither Abortr,inal nor Euronean P,ocietv the Aborigine is destined to -(a) inhabit a form Of limbo without the basic disciplines, aspirations, achievement-motivation, social roles,

attitudes or identity of either culture (i.e. normless" or "anomie"); or,

(b) live out the contradiction of the disciplines, roles and identities he has internalised from both cultures;or, (c) live in conflict with Aboriginal society having internalised the values of western society; or, (d) live in conflict with tzestern-society having

internalised the values of Aboriginal society.

For the Aboriginal child or adolescent, attempting to find identity and a position of strength whereby to relate to the world, the normal problemsof childhood and adolescence are multi p lied. For the Aboriginal adult in the centres of European society the problems are large enough, as Rowley relates:-



"Prejudice is such that ... the Aboriginal has to establish a reputation with the white middle class of the town or city for steady sobriety, which generally means turning his back on the

group and denyin g the claims of . sharing. If he succeeds he often faces a grim kind of life where his associates are others in the same predicament. Success as the whites define it

for him, not being attractive and other goals not being clear to him, he will tend to fall in with the tradition of heavy spending and hard . drinking which he has inherited, and which form

the main kind of defiance of authority available to him."

The artist, Albert Namatjira, an archetypal marginal man, is a case in point. Pastor F. W. Albrecht has said of Namatjira:

"(he) paid a high price for the success he achieved and we cannot avoid asking the question ... whether this indicates the road other of his friends will travel when making

their climb to success."

Reference has been made to a significant Aboriginal culture, diverging from European culture, and acting as a barrier to assimilation of Aborigines into European society. It may be worth reviewing, briefly, the extent to which Aboriginal culture has survived contact with European society.

Loss. of Culture (a) The tribal I . , bori g ines remain largely

isolated from Western culture. (b) The bush or semi-tribal Abori g ines: Stanner argues that mission and. government ' disregard for Aboriginal culture has resulted in a "lost generation" of Aborigines.

The custodians of the old tradition, he found, refused to pass on knowledge and wisdom in case it was dishonoured, or ridiculed 1°7 those in contact with European culture. The human products of this situation - Stanner's "lost generation" - have, in consequence:

"no-one to guide them to a confident home or status or attainment or honour either in their society.or in ours". (1) (e) The out-back Aborlfines on the pastoral properties are. caught up in modernity from a less traditional background than the bush people. This grou p , in closest

contact . as a . grotIL with European Australians. are perhaps the most apparently exploited- One of the first Aboriginal protest movements was amongst Gurindji Aborigines on pastoral properties at Wattle Creek.

(d) The fringe dwellers: Stanner . sees them as

"shifting and unstable groups which often neither know nor care about traditional things." (1) (0) The city dwellers - these are Aborigines at all stages towards or away from the indefinable state of

"assimilation". Iickisshas found strong evidence of the continued exercise of traditional behaviour in Sydney. (2.)

In her study of Aborigines in Sydney, Lickiss found that they neither form nor are part of an homogemals culture but share in the general heterogeneity of Sydney. (3) In the urban environment Aborigines appear subject to the following

stresses (a) migration stresses a large percentage of the Aborigines in Sydney have migrated there over the past 15 Years: several hundred

arrive each year from country areas. They will encounter the stresses of enterin g urban surroundings, finding accommodation and employment, etc.7 CO the stress of urbanism

this is caused in part by the fragmentation of services and personal contacts. Urban life differs from the primitive , and village mode of human interaction in which the whole p erson is known in his varying roles. One conseouence

is a trend towards - where possible - "urban villages" (see (d) below); (c) the stress of low socio-economic status low socio-economic class leads to restricted options, economic insecurity and increased frustration, in the p

resence of obvious affluence. A "Culture of poverty" may develop with consequences described by the sociologist Oscar Lewis, thus: "people in a culture of poverty produce little

wealth and receive little in return. Chronic unemployment and under-employment, low wages, lack of property, lack of savings, absence of food reserves in the home and chronic shortage

of cash imprison the family and the individual in a vicious circle ........

(1) Stunner, op.eit. (2) Lickiss, N., "aeriginal Children in Sydney. The Soda- Economic Environment", in Oceanania, Vol.XLT, NO.3, 1971.

(3) 1

7 ith the q ualification noted in (d) below, i.e. the tendency' to form into cohesive "urban villages".



Along with disengagement from the larger society, there is a hostility to the basic institutions of what are regarded as the dominant classes. There is a hatred of the police, mistrust of g overnment and those in high positions 11').is gives the culture a high potential for protest and for being used. in political movements aimed against the existing social order." (1)(d) the stress of culture contact Lickess found that Aborigines generally werepoorly integrated into the wider urban culture. The kinshipnetwork continued to operate, acting as a buffer in times ofeconomic crisis. Children were fed or boarded, items.borrowed, rela'eives visited and cared for. A tendency existsto form into urban "villages" which provide community in themidst of fragmentation. (viz. Redfern, see p.5 0 ). Butwhere the .traditional community was based on the physical andeconomic necessity to co-operate against nature, now thebasis of community is the need to combine against an alienand exclusive society - European-Australian society. (2)R. M. Berndt notes -"the retrospective sharing of a common culture in a swiftly retreating past, is not enoughto sustain interdependence and common values when other forces are pulling people apart." (3)Tho cohesiveness, group obligation and loyalty which urbanAborigines manifest, no longer appear to derive from theimperatives of tradition but from a new need - for 'ethnic'(1) Lewis, Oscar, "The Culture of Poverty", Scientific American, lol. 215,4 1966, pp. 19725.(2) 'Berndt, C.E., "Mateship or Success" in Oceania, Vol.XXXIII,No.2, Dec.'62,p. 74 notes of the 'new' communities - "One thing these have in common is their focus onforeign or alien". and, Downing, j.1-1. has noted - "In inner Sydney....I found part-Aborigines, far removed from tribal culture, retaining elements of their language as a means of identifying themselves as 'different' from 'whites'.It was both a symbol and a secret-something the white man did not share." Downing, j.H., "Consultation andSe-1f Determination in the Social Development of theAborigines", in Berndt,. R. H., A Q,uestion of Choice, (5) Berndt, R.14. ,"The Concept of Protest within an •AustralianAboriginal Context,"in Berndt, R.N. (ed), A Question of Choice.

identity or 'ethnicity' - in the face of the hostile social environment of European Australia. The alternative to this If community bonding" is a form of limbo as noted above, and described here by Rowley:-

"He .(the urban Aboriginnl)is suspended in Australian society in the 'settled areas: there is no life for him outside it. He faces continuous danger of rejection and insult from non-Aborip-inal members of that society....He

is inextricably in but is constantly reminded that he is not a welcome member of general Australian society". (2)


The significance of land in Aboriginal society is expressed by Professor Rowley in these terms;-' o the Aborigine, who had for so lon g: used every part of it, it was the whole of wealth, the place

of the spirits, the churches, the homes and the source of life itself. It p rovided the animal and other foods. It was the place where human

spirits dwelt before birth and after death," (3)(4)

Thus the question of Aboriginal land rights is not simply one of "grievance and reparation" since more than the land per se was taken away. W.B.H. Stnner in After the_22= 1 2 11: writes:-

(1) To retain, this cohesiveness involves to some extent the beat- ing of the distant drams of a retreating eulture Dick Blair, a Redfern Aborigine, notes: "I can't tell one end of the didgeridoo from another

but we have to find our culture. We want the people -: ftt_o know to come in and teach us and we want to modernise it - it has to be Modernised." The Age, Vednesday,. 6 June 1973. (2) Holey, Outcasts in_YI-lite Society, pp.194-5. (3) C.D..Rowley, "Aborigines and the Land" in Identit y , July 1971.

(4) Professor Berndt, in similar vein, writes: "In Aboriginal thinl;in . g :. ... the most enduring and tangible. expression of the universal scheme of things was the lend, the country through 15hioh mythical beings which had established the pattern of human existence had wandered. As these beings moved across the country

they left behind them their sacred essence. The whole territory of any given Aboriginal group was a network of tracks pf mythical beings pinpointed in sacred sites - sacred relics to which its members were

linked by deep .religious ties." ..The_Xest A”strnlinn Caarthl, 6 Nair 1q6q.



"1:hen we took what we call 'land', it left each local band bereft of an essential constant that made .their plan and code of living intelligible. Particular pieces of territory, each a' homelani, formed part of a set of constants without which no affiliation of any p erson to

any other person, no link in the whole network of relationships, no p art of the complex structure of social groups any loner had all its co-ordinates ....The Aborigine faced a kind of vertigo in

living. They had no stable base of life; every personal affiliation was Mmed; every , group structure was put out of kilter; no social network had a point of fixture left." (1) •

The land rights problem stems from the period of colonization. Berndt notes in The world of the First Australians that the Aborigines did not cultivate the land, or make permanent dwellings or settlements. They moved within areas in accord with the seasons, animal move ,Aent and the rhythm of plant growth.

Despite this, as Rowley described, they were bound by belief and tradition to distinct areas. Because of the nomadic movement no question of Aboriginal rights to land occurred to the settlers and no treaties were made, as was the case in

North America. Consequently, under the present legal system Aborigines of 30,000 years residence have no rights to land occuPied for 200 years by white "settlers''.

In 1963 the Gave Dis-oute - that is, protests about the action of the federal G-overnment in excising large parts of the reserve for mining - led to a Select Committee of Investigation which recognised the Aborigines' hereditary right

to land. The South Australian Act of December 1966, which established the Aboriginal Lands Trust, was another turning point insofar as it gave legal'recognition'to Aboriginal lard rights. But until recently government policy towards disputed

land appears to have been based on "rational land use". This

i)olicy, according to the Eah. R.J.D. Hunt, then Minister for the Interior,

"does not provide for the issue of titles to land simply because certain Aboriginals claimed their ancestors had a traditional association with it, regardless of its economic use." (2)

(1) Starner, op.cit., pp.44-45.

(2) R.J.D. Hunt, Press Statement, 31 21"ray 1971.

The 1972 Australia Day speech of the former Prime Minister, Rt.Hon. W. McMahon, 'Kline initiating a policy of general purpose leases designed to benefit Aborigines, did not recognise Aboriginal land rights either. It is suggested here that

this continuous non-recognition of the land rights of the AboriF:ieTa was an inevitable imperative of the assimilation policy. To recognise the Aborigines right to the land would have provided them with, amongst other things, the opportunity

to lead a different 'way of life. This the 'Hon, R.J.D. Runt has been re p orted as saying:-

to set- aside land because they (Aborigines) claim it tends to perpetuate the Aboriginal tribal system." (1)

Similarly the Hon. P.J. Nixon, as Minister for the Interior, in 1968, stated (in connection with the debate on land ri ghts)l-"Governent policies are directed towards the

objective of the assimiletion of Aboriginal Australians as fully effective members of a single Australian society. The Government wishes to avoid neasuree which are likely to

set Aboriginal citizens permanently apart from other Australians, through having their development based on se p arate or different standards." ()

By the same token Present Government policy, in recognising the land righte of the Aborigines, is ( l eele ened to promote com Taunity self-determination insofar as it acknowledges that Aborigines have a right to keep or ado p t, within a general

framework, a different -ay of life; and the right to base the conduct of their affairs on a different set of values.

Within the last few years Aborigines, notably the G'_=, rindji of Vattie Creek and the Yirrkala of Gave have contested the former govermient policy on land rights. The Yirrkala clans set a p recedent by using the legal system of European

Australia to have their land 'claim settled, argairE that the laws, under which the Australian Government . ranted mining leases to the Nabaloo Company, were ultra wires and void.

(1.) Hon. R.J.D. Hunt, The Australian, 23 August 1971. (2) Hon. P.J. Nixon; Press Statement, August 1968.


In their respective claims the Yirrkala and the Gur-indji

were unsuccessful. However, in the specific case of the

Gurindji, the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, the

Hon. G. Bryant, while at ':fattie Creek in January 1973,

announced that he would be negotiating with Lord Vestey for the surrender of more land to the Gurindji from the Wattie Creek

pastoral lease.


On 18 March a special purpose lease as

granted to allow the Garindji to establish a houostead at

Wattle Creek.


. The present government is committed to the following policy with regard to land rights:

The 29th Conference of the Australian Labor Party, held in Launceston in 1971 recommended that:

"All Abor iginal lands be vested in -a public

trust or trusts composed of Aborigines or Islanders as appropriate ... That exclusive

corporate land rights be granted to Aboriginal communities which retain a strong tribal structure or demonstrate a potential for corporate action in regard to land at present reserved for the use of ',1)origines or where

traditional occupancy, according to tribal custom can be established from anthropological or other evidence. No Aboriginal lands shall

be alienated except with the a p proval both of

the trust and of Ferliment. .Aboriginal land rights shall carry with them full rights to minerals in tiose lands. The sacred sites of the Aborigines will be map p ed and protected."

In line with these commitments, the present aemornment.

on taking office, halted the granting of land leases, mineral_

exploration licenses and leases within Aboriginal reserves in the Northern Territory. An Aboriginal Land Rights Commission, under Mr. Justice ::oodward, Q.C., was established. The

Commission's te-ms of reference are to make arrangements to

give effect to the land rights policy. (see full statement of terms of reference in _ilripendix V. The Commission-Presented

its interim report in August l973.(2)


(1) In 1970, 2CV; of :total pastoral leases in the Northern Territory and -N of total -mineral leases 'e . ere held by overseas controlled companies. ( Hon. P.J. Nixon, in

response to Question No.1772, House of Representatives 30 October 1W0.)

(2) See Appendix ITS.


Mr. Whitlam has also announced that he will invite the Government of Western Australia and south Australia to join with the Commonwealth in establishing a Central Australian Aboriginal Reserve (including Ayers Rock • and Mount

Olga) under the control of Aboriginal trustees- On 10th April 1973 the Government gave approval for the drafting of legislation to establish an Abo yLiginal Land Fund to buy or acquire land outside reserves for Aboriginal communities. The

Labor Party is oommitted'to . appropriate million per year to the Fund for the next 10 years. In addition it has been decided that 10/L of the royalties received by the Aborigines Benefits Trust Fund from any mining project on a reserve in

the Northern Territory will be paid into a local community fund administered by Aboriginal 'trustees for the benefit of the particular community concerned.





Qualified Not Qualified

Bat Studying

Persons Persons

Trade Level 819 287

Technician Level 16.9 103

Non-Degree Tertiary 68 65

Bachelor Degree 33 34

Higher Degree

Not classified by Level 241 157

Approx.° .03% of the total Aboriginal po p ulation as compared with approximately 1.25% of the white population have bachelor d egrees.

(1 ) 1 J e g eril: For the 1971 Census the qualifications -:ere classified to five major levels and snecific fields vithin each level.

The levels were determined as follows:

Tra,lo : recr);lition of corope I ency n asl;il!ed m:inu ere: r-a l, ion is 'usually obtai»ed throuilt an

appreuticeship a'ud s si:.ctary ; 1 5oin s part-thue st L

id:e-s c r. uren tly with piactical


Tekliniciert : a level • hk,-.

1 1 J e(- 1;:ires GleorelLal 2S V,T

. r a precticid skills, e.g. wool classin. Cr nnrsing.

Ccrl: icates i v acit by tedmical cc c foilviu;

, periods r1 - 4 or 5 years part-time si.udy z

, fter p.:;ssi n

iflte.-:neklieJe or final se..7ondaiy school ex ;:nrina lions are c-lassiiied as technician.

Te r ti aY

( 01l 1‘ .

r th-ln uni v ersity de r

...rec) : dlcvel i c.1- o Lcalincations obtained following abs s ; ant ial advanc-cd sfu.-.1y beyncl matrkulation conferred by instii.otions. and .es:ociations, e.g. Associate of Austaliou Socity of Accountants, Diploma in .

Ltsiness Su:dies, Teac=rinfl Certificate, Diploma of Enginer:ring.

13niteior degree : tisui 2 ly conferred by a university following a perk:CI of at •

lest 3 years full-time s-tudy or equiva.lent

pal mimc study aadirriud.spos.'i.-graduat,e dip!onins.

Higher degree : conferred by a univt rsity in Fecopiiion of substan[ial studies beyond the Bachelor level.

Some quilifications co:de:not:or; chissified to any of the above . 1cvels. Most of these relate to short specialised

cours in such fields as tyrewritinz and shorthand, fal":11 boolc-kecping, dressmaking, antomotive maintenance.

Persons who were qualified and studying for a qualification are shown in Table IV according to the q ualifications held. All perbons studying for a higher degree

anpear in the table as qualified at the Bachelor degree level.



In the school situation Aboriginal children tend to have lower performance than European Australian children -that is, lower 'intelligence' scoring, lower standards of work, deficiencies in reading, speech and mathematics - the

chief areas in which achievement is measured at school. Achievement motivation, cognitive ability and verbal (1) development are all low. Attendance rates are low.

Ti is widely agreed that the Aboriginal child's difficulties in education cannot necessarily be regarded as a conseouence of inferior intelligence. There are, as Charles Kerr points out, methodological problems in establishing that

race influences or limits intelligence.

"If it were certain that environmental factors acted in the same way on different races, then a genetic comparison of intelligence would be valid. But we have no idea how environmental factors

interact with the unknown genetic mechanisms that determine intelligence ... • Cross racial

comparisons have no scientific basis and cannot be accep ted as valid ... There are no grounds for assuming that any racial group has an intellectual endowment different from another one." (2)

A UNESCO re p ort reached a similar conclusion -"It is not possible to Sa y of a particular race that it is more (or less) 'intelligent' than another." (3)

The Home and the °01.1qol

Difficulties which Aboriginal children experience at school are increasingly being attributed to environmental and cultural factors. Contrasting elements of the Australian and Aboriginal cultures have already been noted (p.11 above).

This conflict is reflected in the school where the culture promoted in the home and pre-school days meets the European Australian cultural orientation of the education system- In effect Aboriginal school children lack what the Western

education system demands: verbal skills, a clear definition of time seduence, of cause and effect relationships, of

(1 ) See below and Australian Council for Education Research.. Cognitive 51TiHs inAboric r,inal Children in Victorian "cl,cols • (2) Kerr, C. "Race Intellience and- Laucation" in 14edical Journal , of Australia, Vol. 1 No. 4 P. 199 (January 27, 1973)

(3) Leiris Michel, 1 =, , ,,c6 and Culture, U.N. .S.C.O.i 1959) .


conceptual relationships, inductive and deductive.

Some cultural factors which the Aboriginal child may develop at home and before -school and which have important consequences for the development of linguistic skills and cognitive ability are mentioned below.

(a) Silence of the AboriPinal Family:

"Men of an age speak with men of an age. The younger are silent in their elders' presence. Women are silent in the presence of men. Children are silent in the presence of all except their

peers." (1) The child's contacts with adult speech are thereby limited. Even where he is exposed to adult speech, that speech is "restricted". (2)

(b) Derived Home Surroundim7s: The _Aboriginal child lacks experience with pictures, books, drawing, toys and activity materials because these are absent from the home. These materials are Important for the development of certain skills which form the basis of learning. In addition

overcrowding a-I-fleets home study.

(c) Parental Attitudes: Watts found the following attitudes amongst Aboriginal Tr .others that she considered prejudicial to the child's school success:

(i) an ecuation of "doing well at school" with "attending school" and "not getting into trouble"; (ii) a view of the school as, in the main, keeping

children. out of mischief; (iii) a willin g ness to allow young adolescents to mke their own decisions in regard to schooling and to jobs;

(iv) a lack of specific interest in school activities — ilcluding inability to help children with their homework. (3)Aboriginal

(1) Grey,A." Ahoriginal Education" in Abori g inal Progress: A New Era? D. E. Hutchison, r. 77 (2) For characteristics of 'restricted' language see


(3) Watts,B,"Ecuality of Educational Opportunity for Aboriginal Children" in Harold Thros3e12. (ed) Ethnic Ilincrities in Australia, 5th National Conference, A.C.O.S.L;., Brisbane, 1968.


parents have little or no experience of secondary schooling .. Of those that have, many experienced only failure.

(d) Child Rearing Practices:

Aboriginal child rearing practices Fut comparatively little emphasis on early attempts at independence. Training is not aimed at helping the child defer gratification.

The consequences of such forces on the cognitive and linguistic development of the child are now being evaluated in the light of research by the child psychologist,. Piaget, and the educational sociologist, Bernstein.


Much of the

application of these theories to the Australian Aboriginal

context has been by de Lemos and Watts.(2)

Bernstein has shown that the lack of verbal inter-action between parent and child in the working class environment results in restriction of the normal language growth of the child. The same lack of verbal interaction

exists in the Aboriginal. e (3) nvironment._ (Contrast this with the middle class home in which stories are told and books read to children as part of the daily pattem of life.) In consequence lower social class and culturally 'deprived'

children exhibit verbal retardation. Their lan,smage is restricted. (4)

(1) Pi ag ot, J., The Ps y cholo gy of intelli g ence, London 1950

or Hebb, D., riY Y,e :6r g anization_of T.loaviour, 1949, and Bernstein, B., 'Social ' :;tructure, hangaage and Learning", in Educationl Research, 1961, lol. 3, Yo. 3, p' 1)-176

or Bernstein, B., ' r locial Class and Iinuistic Developront. A Theory of Social Learning" in Halsey, .L.11., et at (eds) pp. 289-314 (2) 6ee articles by de Ienos.and Watts in Tatz C.M. (ed)

Aborigines aell_d Eduction

(3) As noted in (a) above, 1-)2..9 (4) Some characteristics of restricted language are : short, grammatically siaple sentences with poor zynti-letical forn simple and re p etitive use of conjunctions : little use of

subordinate clauses : inability to hold a formal subject through a speech sequence : riid and limited use of adjectives and adverbs : frernlent use of statements *Alero the reason and -

conclusion are compounded to -produce a categoric statement. Bernstein, B., '!Social Class and Linguistic Development. • A Theoryof Learning", in Halsey. OD. cit., p. 297.


Restricted language adversely affects intellectual development for, according to Bernstein, language and , intellec-tual development are inextricably linked (i.e.- language and

words afford a system of symbols which greatly increase the efficiency of thought).

Thus, Bernstein notes,

"The implications (of restricted language) are logical, social and psychological. It is suggested that a correlate of this linguistic form is a relatively low level of conceptuali-zation, an orientation to a low order of

causality, a disinterest in processes, a preference to be aroused by, and to respond to, that which is immediately given, rather than to the implications of a matrix of relationships; and that this partly conditions the intensity and extent of curiosity as well as the mode of establishing relationships. Those logical

considerations affect what is learned 'and how it is learned and so affect future learning".(1)

Piaget has sugested that intelligence develops in a hiorarcllical manner. ./ocerdingly, deficiencies in the early stages of thought due to the environmental factors set out above, will lead to problems in intellectual development at higher levels.

The development of abstract thought takes place, according to Piaget, at amroximately the afire of 11 or 12. It is at this age that many Aboriginal children show signs of being no longer able to cope with the demands of schooling - the

Phenomenon Tatz calls "cross-over" Aboriginal cllildren, previously apace with white children, suddenly reverse their progress. Not having developed the linguistic ability to deal with the basic learning skills and faced with increasingly more difficult and complex tasks, the child falls further and

further behind. As Bernstein notes:-

"The character of the educational process changes at the secondary level. It becomes analytic and relies on the progressive exploitation of what Piaget calls fornal * operations, whereas the

lower working class child's linguistic history tends to restrict him to the concrete operational stage." (2)

(1) Ibid., p.-302. • *and as ap plied here the Aboriginal child's- (2) Bernstein, op.cit., p.307. ("Concrete o p erations" in Piaget's scherr_le is the stage before "formal operations" wherein the child begins to organize and systematize em p irical data; to

classify and relate; to apply logic to objects and situations.)

.3 •2.

The transition to abstract modes of thought and 'understanding is retarded or perhaps never attained. The possibility of succeeding in secondaryschooling is lost.

Marion de Lemos has conducted research in the Northern Territory which indicates that Aboriginal children are late in developing "conservation" which Piaget claims is basic to all logical thinking. ("Conservation" is the understanding

that any substance or quantity will remain invariant regardless ,• of chan cres in the form of quantity). Some children do not - (1) achieve conservation at all. A similar study of cognitive shills in Aboriginal Children in Victorian Primary Schools,

conducted by the Australian Council for Educational Research, discovered that

"a higher percentage of Australian children achieved conservation before the age of 8 than either Aboriginal or migrant children." .(2)

This retardation. amongst Aboriginal Children would tend to indicate thit intellectual development proceeds much more slowly in the Aboriginal culture and that -"in general Aborigines would achieve a lower level

of intellectuLd functioning than is normally achieved in the European culture." (de Lames, ibid.)

(which is not to say that they are incapable of attaining the same level of intellectual functioning as Europeans).

Bi7j.n.21)al EdnoPt4or

The tilingaal educat-Lon p olicy adopted by the governiaent for schools in predominantly Aboriginal areas, assumes that deficiency in English is a primary factor in the child's inability to conceptualize. Theoretically the policy will

enable the child to learn in his own language from the time when he first e-Iters school. At the same time he should p rogressively catch up with his understanding and communication

in English.

(1)de Lomas "Conceptual Development in Aboriginal Children" in Tatz, C.M. Aborir rines and Education, p.255. (2)this study also concluded: "in our opinion ... AborDiinal children face their later

studios in the p rimary school with a serious handicap in linguistic and conceptual skills." • Progress Rep ort No.2. "Cognitive Skills in Aboriginal Children in Victorian Primary Schools, Bruce, D.W., Hengevold, N.

and Radford, 7.C., Australian Council for Educational Reserch. (p. 25)


If bilincual education continues throuzh Primary school the child should achieve the sane group level as the monolingual English speakin7 child and should also understand and aopreciate both cultures of which he is part. A successful bilingual programme must also achieve the same, or superior,

standards in other skills and content subjects (such as mathematics and, science) as a monolingual programme.(1)

Pilot schemes are at present being introduced in some areas of Australia.

The present Government has also expanded the secondary grants scheme so that all Aboriginal children will receive grants immediately they enter secondary school. The -_!rants include assistance with living costs, school fees, clothing and text

books and other ex p enses associated 7ith attending school.

(1) See basic naper "Bilingn1 4 .11-ic?,tion for Australian Aborigines". Education and l 'elfare Grou p , Legislative Research ervice, Parliamentary Ifrl.brary, Carfberra.



"Our present health services are directed towards keeping Aboriginal children alive, not keeping them healthy ... We are producing a race of cripples - children who will never be able to live normal lives, evefy one of whom will be a cost to the State." (1)

Health among, tribal and fringe thellln.r Aborigines

Common illnesses

A recent survey carried out in -Western Australia found that apart from infant mortality and malnutrition, the most common health problems are:-chronic respiratory tract infection; chronic otitis;

acute respiratory tract infection leading to pneumonia; (2 leprosy; hookorm, trachom ) a,' gastro-enteritis and anaemia. By the time children reach school age most have

one or both eardrums pierced and chronic discharging ears continue through school years. They are particularly susceptible to pneumonia and diahorrea. The prevalence of diabetes is surprisingly high.. The high prevalanoe

of ... le p rosy and trachoma and their virtual absence in the white p opulation are clear indication of the deficient level of health and hygiene under which the (3) Aboriginal people live. -

In addition, venereal disease is prevalent. Mr Hayden noted in June 1972 that the sy p hilis rate in the Northern Territory vas 19.1 per 100,CM0 po pulation - more than 2 3- greater than the

Australian rate. Gonorrhoea was at the level of 570 cases per 1Cfl,Oa nearly 0 , times the Australian rate. In the 10 years to June 1970 there was a 60% increase in the incidence of syphilis and an increase of more than 55?; in the incidence of gonorrhoea in the Northern


An overall picture of the Aboriginal health situation is not possible as separate statistics do not exist. (One of the recommendations of a recent seminar on Aboriginal health was "ti-let the Bureau of Census and Statistics be required to

collect, collate and publish annually, fj47,ures relatin g to Aboriginal health and '; Yelfare.") (8ee APT:endix IV ).

(1) Dr H.C. Coombs, reported in The Australian, 26 February 1972. (2) Professor F. Hollo7:Tes has claiaed that the rate of blindness - amongst Aborigines in the Northern Territory is 40 times . higher than amongst 2uropeans in the city metropolitan areas.

(Northern Territory tcews, 16 Noveber 1972).

(3) i'limmary Reort of the AberirO,nal Studie (3 -roup, School of liedictne. University of ';;eStern Auotraii2, Xav 1q72.


Vast distance, scattered population groups, language and cultural barriers, sub-economic living standards, all affect the implementation of health services.

Infant mortality

Accurate statistics of Aboriginal infant mortality rates are impossible to ebt am n and the full extent of infant mortality is not known. Only the Northern Territory keeps separate statistics for Aboriginal infant deaths.

The 14edical Journal of Australia has quoted Dr D.K. Kirke's reports that amongst the Aboriginal population in the Northern Territory in the period 1964-71, the rate was 172 infant deaths per 1,000 live births as oloposed to 19.5 per

1,000 for non-Aborigines in the Territory.(1)

Infant mortality amongst Aborigines is generally considered to be caused by infections associated ith severe malnutrition at the crucial period in the infant's life after veaninF and before the assumption of a full diet. Dr R.B. Elliot,

of the Department of Child Health at the University of Adelaide, has reported that -

"Up to 15-; =,; of all Aboriginal children in rural areas died in the first year of life from gastro-enteritis or pulmonary infections. High mortality rates mainly from those t y o diseases

perssted into childhood. There was nothing peculiar to the Aboriginal in the type of infectin organism but the frequency of infection and severity of illness were unusual. Inextricably

involved in these abnormal . responses were under-nutrition and la g standards of bersonal and communal hygiene." (2)

Dr Kalokorinos of Collarenebri, has suggested that viral infections usually in the upper res p iratory tract exhaust the vitamin C stored in the body. Scurvy develo ps, making the child susceptible to more serious diseases. Dr. Kalokerinos

recommended injection of Vitamin C to help prevent infant

(1) Medical Journal of Australia, Vol.2, 110.13, 23 September, 177, (2) Report of Dr =iot's pa p er to University of Adelaide Seminar oN Lboriinal Kealth, in Idedical Journal of

Australia, 15 Uovember 1969.


mortality, claiming that he had completely halted Aboriginal infant deaths in Valgett Shire (N.S.W.). The Commonwealth Department of Health investigated these claims and a recent report concluded that -

"diets of a si g nificant number of young children ... are suboptimal"; and that "There is a need for specific measures to improve the overall nutritional status of the Abori g ine." (1)

Dr Peter Moodie has recently called for "full investigation with support from the academic medical fraternity" of Dr. Kalokerino's theories. (2)

Malnutrition - and p oor dietary habits

Not only children but also adults often are without the right quantities or quality of food. Recently Dr Leslie Lazarus, Director Of the Garvan Institute of Medical Research, St Vincent's Hospital, Sydney, has sa g .gested that malnutrition

of the pregnant mother and of the child in early infancy result not only in stunting of physical gro rth but decrease in brain size . and intellectual impairment. Dr Lazarus, noting that the circumference of the head bears a direct relationshi p to the

size of the brain, quotes a study of Aboriginal children in Sydney, which reported -

"Many of the children are suffering fran conditions which may be attributed to malnutrition, such as shortness of stature, underweiOlt, small head

circumfe.cenco and recurrent infections." (3)

A. recent survey of 281 Aborigines in Walgett,. has shown a significant incidence of malnutrition as evidenced by body growth retardation and small brain size. Other tests have shown that malnutrition in the Walgett Aborigines has Caused

a specific defect in intellectual developent. (4)

(1) Co !lmon-alth DeP.Irt-lent of Health, Vitamin C ::utrition at Collarenebri, 1:3 October 1972, p.50 and ApPenAix p.13. (2) Moodie, P.M., Aboriginal cieRlth, A.IT.U. Press, 1973, 11.190. (3) ABC broadcast, 29.10.72.

(4) "Mainnrition and IntelJectual Development". 1 , TdioaI Thurn-11

of Austnai cl, Vol. 1, No. 18, bydney, 5 Aa:y 1973, n w.... nn •n•+.*M.%,


Malnutrition is only one of the many causes of infant mortality and the general breakdown of Aboriginal health. Dr K.D. Kirke of the Department of Health, Alice Springs, has also quoted overcroding, comunal ablutions and feeding,

poor personal hygiene and inadequate housing as conditions which, in his opinion, render respiratory and bowel infections lethal.

Conditions-are perha p s worst on settlements and missions and in the slum conditions of rural and urban fringe dwellings. Tribal Aborigines who retain their semi—nomadism are at least, in Professor Tatz's words, not 'imprisoned in

their on excreta".

On settlement, missions and in fringe conditions infection can spread quite easily. There is often no ready accessibility to water, shoTrers and toilets, electricity, and other facilities,including adequate shelter.

Hwever, while these factors are inextricably linked to the Aboriginal health situation, Dr Anne Hamilton believes that there arc more fundamental reasons for ill health amongst Aborigines -- namely "the assumptions underlying the health

services and the 1-ay 'care' is delivered." (1) More specifically she indicts the European blindness to Aboriginal culture and its implications for health care.



A. Hamilton , Health in the Traditionally Oriented Community, Pap er to Research Seminar on Aboriginal Health Eervices, ronash University, May 1972.

Cultural attitudes of AboriFines in relation to health

Rnmilton notes that: (a) Piborigines do not view Food health as one of the inalienable rights of life: bodily discomfort is not considered extraordinary. However they wish to be happy and they wish their children to be strong and

har py. (1)

.(b) They do not share the European concept of causation: thus the Aborigines believe that all ill health is caused, not by their own personal practices, nor by "germs", but by the intervention of agencies usually not

amenable to individual or family control. Rather than des-troy this concept of "magical" causation, Hamilton suggests a synthesis of the Aboriginal and European explanations.

A concrete example given is - in Central Australia sore eyes (conjunctivitis, trachoma, etc,) were believed to be caused b-.7 contact with sec r et-sacred materials. The European insistence that sore eyes were caused by flies led

to the belief that flies sat on sacred objects and then came into people's eyes, thereby transmitting the p ower and heat of the sacred object to the people, making them ill. It was therefore not necessary to dissuade people from

their maPical belief. One of the end results was an enormous increase in the demand for fly nets.

A similar, practical synthesis is recommended by Prof. John Cawte of the University of New South Wales who has written that "traditional involvement is not necessarily op .posed to modern developments ..."


Noting that, "Australian medicine has notably neglected the Aboriginal- medical practitioner, serenely unmindful of his contribution to the health and security of his people ..." Cawte recommends a rapprochement between.

the Aboriginal and the European medical systems end notes the develorment of the first systematic attempt to employ native doctors in the Western Health System at Papuyna inJanuary 1973. Here three Pintubi doctors were paid a training

(1) Han is not considered the pinnacle of perfectibility by the Aborigine. The imperfect man thus is not seen as a crime a:Tainst nature. Disability, deformity and illness are inconvenient but not disgusting or horrifying.

(2) Iledical Journal of Australi, 3 February 1973, P. 227.



(1) wage for assisting in the work of the hospital. Many other observers recommend employment of native doctors in ) Nuropean health programmes. (2 -Such methods, plus a sympathetic programme of health education (using the existing resources, human,

social and technological) combined with a cultural orientation programme for European health personnel could provide the mutual respect needed to remove,

(c) ,,boriginal t distrust of European medicine and alienation by contact with the non-Aboriginal medical system; and some of the conse q uences of this distrust, such as complications caused by failure to present for

treatment and the low subscription to programmes of preventive medicine.


In addition to improvements in education, housing and economic opT)ortunity and provision of adequate health personnel and facilities, a policy to alleviate . the Aboriginal health situationmieht involve a synthesis

of the European end. Aboriginal bases of medicine. That the p roblem_ cannot be overcome by the provision, even on a lavish scale of more European style technology, personnel and facilities alone, is illustrated by the outcome

of the Many 'Farms Community health project devised for a Navajo Indian community. After. six years of "total health care" there was no reduction in_the incidence of pneumonia,

diarrhoea or trachoma. Infant mortality remained as before •-• at three times the national average. Hamilton believes the programme failed because the underlying 'cul-tural problems were left unresolved. Moodie finds in the

failure of tho programme "a lesson of enormous importance and relevance" for future Aboriginal health. Accordingly,

(1) Vocational training courses for Aboriginal para-medical assitants comenced at East Arm Leprosarium, (ll..) in mid 1969. Courses are designed to e q uip trainees with sufficient basic medical knowledge to detect

symptoms of leprosy and treat sufferers pending instruction from specialist medical officers. 19 trainees, all former leprosy patients, attended. courses in 1969-70. (2) Hamilton, A., "Health in the Traditionally Oriented

Community". Pap er to Research Seminar; Aboriginal Health Services, Monash Univorsi, nay 1972 , aiso see Ap .nondix II.


he suggests "a health and medical care delivery system mediated through resident community health services, assisted by indigenous (Aboriginal and part-Aboriginal) auxiliaries supervised and supported from outside by physicians and

hospitals and integrated with social, economic and e (1) ducational welfare programmes." (A similar and more extensive Policy guideline - the final recommendation of a Eonash University} Aborir , inal Health Services Serr_inar -

is included as Appendix TV. )

floodie estimates that, if the present situation continues, then by the end of the century Aborigines will contribute 0 of births in Australia,

20% of infant deaths, 50% of deaths in the second year of life, 204 in the remainini :7; years of childhood. Ploreover, he claims - "it is likely that all the medical technolory that could be brought to bear row, or may be develo p ed in the neat decade or so, will he powerless in

')) itself to prevent these fi (' gures eventuating". ABTUGTF AT r7J2H P T' U-F TR . .3 _

An editorial in the Medical Journal of Australia has Temrke (I, "Is not the conduct of the aboriginal people basically common to all human groups under

stress? It would appear that the illhealth and othe- yrobles of the Abo r i:T rinal people a-e symptoms of an unde r l Ifing state of social and s


iritual disintegration. Improvements in health can come an y froE an ar proaeh based on t'nis underlying cause and not cim p ly from the provision of better health services. ° (3)

Dr. Hamilton has concluded -"Until Aborigines are given real control over resources and are ble to make important decisions affectine!, their own well being, any

marked improvement in health cannot be exp ected." (4)

( I ) Loodie, P.E., Abo r iF_7inal Hen i th, Press,

Canberra, 1973, P- 271- (2) iid, 1 0. 273.

(3) Redical Journal of AnsLralja Vol.2, No.13 23 Seetc-ibor wr (4) -_ qanilton, on.cit.


Health in the Urban Context

In many respects the health situation of the

Aborigine in the urban setting resembles that of any other group in poverty: for example,

- ignorance of available medical schemes

- exclusion from medical benefits funds because of low levels of income, difficulties with language and the complexities of

enrolling in the scheme.

However, in addition there are those social

problems peculiar to Aborigines resulting from what has been

described above as "cultural disintegration".

Briscoe claims that aszimilation, policies

have left the Aborigines "without an economic or political

base from which to support health and eating habits." (1)

Infant mortality rate. amongst Aborigines living in Sydney (2) is reported to be twice the Australian average.• The incidence of malnutrition amongst Aboriginal children in (3) Sydney has been noted. To meet the health needs of Aborigines in Sydney,Briscoe, nro. Shirley Smith and others

have established an Aboriginal Health Service in Redfern

which has assumed res p onsibility for

"(i) providing a free medical service, created

by Abori g ines for Aborigines

(i5) providing similar, once a weektfaciiities

at the Le Perouse settlement;

(iii) providing nedicà1 teams, headed by

Aboriines to visit country settlements.")

The immediate goal is to set up 8, clinic, staffed b y voluntary doctors and Abori

g inal supportive personnel,

such as nurses, field officers, secretaries, receptionists

and driversd' 30m e CommonT7ealth financial assistance has been


(1) Briscoe, G., "To-ards a Health Pro :: -ramme for Aborigines",

Paper for 1:esearch Se-ninnr: Aboric-inaa_Leaith_522:v.lee, Yonash University, :Hay 1972, n.5.

(2) D. Scott and Co., Report quoted in The A r e, 15 June 1973.

(3) See also Lickiss, JH., "Health --

)roble-is of Sydney

Aborisinal Children", I:051c- , 2 Journal of Anstr5,Clia.

Vol.2, 1970, 28 November 1970. (4) Briscoe, on.cit.




OccurationLor 71,0_12:2 Male Female Persons

1. Professional, technical and related workers 278 289 567

2. Administrative, executive and managerial workers 123 24 147

3. Clerical 233 486 719

4. Sales Workers 229 269 498

5. Farmers, fishermen, hunters, timber getters and related Yorkers 5,733 349 6,082

6. Miners, quarrymen and related workers 458 18 476

7. Workers in transport and communication occupations 964 89 1,053

8. Craftsmen, production process 1401-kers and labourers 7,460 833 8,293

9. Service, s p ort and recreation workers 644 3,057 3,701

10. hembers of armed services 143. 8 151

Pot stated 1,227 632 1,859

Total in .-'ork force 17,492 6,054 23,546




Occupational Status

In work force —

Males Females Persons

Employed —

Employer 101 21 122

Self employed 483 78 561

Tage. earner 16,853 5,891 22,744

Helper (unpaid) 55 64 119

Total employed 17,492 6,054 23,546

Unemplo7ed 1,864 546 2,410

Total in ! ork forcr, 19,356 6,600 25,956

Total not in 'York force 34,563 45,771 301554

GRArD TOTAL 53,919 52,371 106,290



The concept of work in Aboriginal culture is different to that of Euro p ean-Australian society. Traditionally work satisfied the immediate needs of the Aboriginal. Lack of a concept of future-need precluded forward planning. Also

the individual did not work for himself but shared the products of his work - generally the spoils of hunting - with others. D.L. Busbridge noted:

"The idea of working for oneself (with ambition to achieve some economic goal) was foreign. to Aboriginal society. Individual effort for individual gain was unknown and the concepts of money and working for money were alien to tribal

Aborigines." (1)

These attitudes p revail to some extent today amongst tribal and semi-nomadic Aborigines.. Those on reserves have developed other characteristics, mainly reliance on the reserve authorities, for provision of many of their basic needs.

General characteristics of the Abori .pinal 7orkforce

At all ages except the youngest ,Aboriginal participatiun. in the f!orkforce is lower than that of non-Aborigines. The unemployment rate for Aborigines in the workforce is high. For those in employiAent much of the werk is seasonal, or in

declining industries; or industries 'with low technology and low job opnortunities. SuCli jobs, characterised by seasenabiliV, instability and‘layoffs i, demand provident habits not favoured by Aboriginal culture. These conditions of employment tend to

perpetuate the Poverty . cycle. Aborigines monopolise specific areas of employment and so large segments are vulnerable to the same economic influences. Thus risks are concentrated not spread and because kinsfolk are employed in the same jobs the

severity of an economic event mininises the possibility of one helping another.


(1) Busbrid n-e, DJ., "Lbori.3dnal Eaolo ent Problems in south Ausl.:ralia", in Shar,:‘, 1.d. and Tatz, C.L., Aborigines in the :c--).%o-dv, p.96.


Working ponulatien

According to 1971 Census figures, there were 25,956 Aborigines "in the work force d . including 2,410 who were unemployed. The Commonuealth axoloyment Service has estimated a total of between 30-40,000 Aborigines of working age

available, if willing, for work and re p orted that 22,000 of these had sou.tht assistance from the C.E.S. in 1971. (Of these, 6,500 Aborigines were placed in o p en employment by the Commonwealth Em p loyment Service and approximately 11,000 were

) seasonally unemployed., (1)

Occupational Distribution

A crude analysis of the 1971 statistics indicates that:

(i) Aborigines are virtually absent from the white collar segment. Fe y Aborigines collIplete education beyond 15 years of age and thus are not able to Qualify for p

rofessional or technical training. Approximately of Aboriginal workers are employed in professional, administrative and clerical positions compared with approximately 32 of the non-Aboriginal workforce.

(ii) 24 of Aboriginal workers (including one-third of the male Aborid_nal workforce) are concentrated in farm and rural industry, a declining sector of the economy. Only of non-Aboriginal workers are involved in

this area of al.ployment. (2)

Pastoral ' , !; ..1n1ovf!lent Forthorn TtIrtiaa

On 1 December 1968 the Cattle Station Industry (Northern. Territory) Award was extended to Aboriginal employees.

On 9 December 1968 the Award was declared a Common Rule bindin7 on all employers in the Cattle Station Industry in all parts of the Northern Territory but only in res p ect of — •

(1) Submission by Commonwealth De p artment of Labour to Senate Standing Committee on the Social Environment. Official Hansard Report, 8 Nay 1972, p.356. (2) These percentages are a7)proximate only.


members of the North Australian Workers' Union. Few Aboriginal workers are mernbers of the Union.

Between December 1968 and 1971 the Department of Labour inspected 81 employers' properties (out of a total of ap proximately 200). Of these 41 were found to provide wages and/or acconTiodation below the standard demanded by the Award.

( 9

The Gibb COmmittee,set up in October 1970 to investigate the situation of Aborigines on Pastoral Properties in the Northern Territory, has recommended that, with regard to the Award,

"the most immediate means of extending legal application Tradld be to make the Award a Common Rule binding on all em p luers and em?lovees in the industry ... This may be possible under

the Conciliation and Arbitration Act ..." (2)

The Award has no provAsion for wages exclusive of "keep". The Committee has suggested a "-without keep" provision as an alternative in order to reintroduce a degree of independence, domestic responsibility and social community to Aboriginal

pastoral groups. (3) At present the "with keep" provisions mean communal feeding which deprives. the Aboriginal woman of an

important function within the family.

In addition the Conaittee has suggested that minimum wage legislation be introduced to cover domestic workers who form a considerable 7ropo2tion of the Aborigines on pastoral properties.

The Committee concluded:

"The vast majority of idastoralists in the Northern Territory do not meet the reouirer pents iiicI down by the Award, or indeed •nythin7 like them." (4)

Des-pite the Award considerable numbers of Aborigines on pastoral p roperties have joined the 6drift to the towns': In Western Australia, for evm!i ple, in 1965, 69.5 of the total


(1) "The Situation of Abri,Tinos on Pastoral ;"ro-ceTties for the northern Territorv". Report or tie Co:Imit7,00 of fli?vjev, — December 1971, p.. (2) ibid, p.9.(3) ibid, p.12.(4) ibid.


Aboriginal -workforce were employed in rural occu p ations. By 1971 this proportion had declined to

Self Help

Better education alone cannot change the general condition of the Aboriginalin regard to employment opportunity. Aborigines generally live in areas where new opportunities are not increasing even for non-Aborigines. The need for new

industries in these areas could be combined with the

Commonwealth government policy of self-determination, especially when States rihts in regard to Aborigines are finally transferred to the Commonwealth. The provision of industrial self-help projects, to some extent already provided for by the

1968 Commonwealth Capital Fund. for Aboriginal Enter prises, is likely to be extended. In 1971-72, 83 million was loaned in 195 grants for Aboriginal enterprises with a reasonable prospect of success. Additional grants were made available in January

1972 to the Aborigines Advancement Trust Account for the sane Purpose. Recently .*D3 2- million has been set aside to finance "special work projects" to Provide meaningful work for otherwise unemployed Aborigines. These projects will be assessed "in tens of their value to the Aboriginal co;nmluaity. 1)

The•Gibb Committee Report recommended p olicies to strengthen the Aborigines on social organisation and assist it to accept greater responsibility for the mamgement of its own affairs by, amongst other things, support for

Aboriginal-owned and staffed enterprises. Thus,

"wherever a coherent group of Aborigines indicates effective interest in establishing a grou p owned enterprise, it should be encouraged if the enterprise has reasonable prospects of success." (2)

A study on the feasibility of establishing Aborigines on cattle properties in Arnhem Land has found that relatively small anraal surpluses over costs could be expected over 8-13 years raTturation. 3) These sur

p luses would be insufficient

(1) Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Jon. f _LBryant, M.P., s7)eaking

on States -;,rants (Aboriginal Advancement) Bill, Yarch 1973. (2) Gibbs Committee Report, p.5a. (3) Bureau of Agricultural Economics, Econa .

.zlics of Land

Develooent: Abo inal Pastoral Properties, Arnhefa Lard, ITorthern Te=itor;r, Canberra 1971.

to repay the cost of development over a 50-year p eriod, even

if interest was not charged on the ca p ital involved. (1 .)

The .Hon. D. Dunstan, Premier of South Australia, speakin in 1966 of the p ossible consequence of granting Land Rights to Aborigines in South Australia, noted that the .development of land by the Aborigines would be costly, difficult

and often possibly unsuccessful and may not su pp ort the people, once developed. jir Dunstan has recommended:

in my view the only way in which we will be able to provide a reasonably viable mired economy for the Aborigines is to develop craft industry and teams with s p ecial skills who can use the reserves as a base but so off to .,ork.

The situation , :'ould change markedly with the

discovery of minerals on reserve lands ... (2)

Whatever Aboriinal self-help developments occur, outsiders should be reticent to judge them in European terms of success or .failure.

Other Provisions with re7ard to Abori77inal EmPlovTort

Unem p loyment benefits are available to Aborizines,as to everyone,subject.only to "rork test eligibility". At present the Department of labour is seeking means to im p rove the availability of facilities, ouch as District Employent Offices.

Aborigines may register alld ciriAm for benefits throu.01 the maj..1 l'Aero they are al.:are of the service but unable to aTmly personally becuse of transport or other difficulties. UnemployDiont and other social security benefits generally p rovide a large proportion

of income for Aborigines.

The Department of labour, through the Commonwealth Employment Service, has, since July 1969, provided an employment trainin q scherne for Aboriines designod to assist Aborigines with irreE piar or no employnent exwrience to acouire skills and

obtain stable employment. Since the inception of the scheme to February 1972, 1,426 A.bor e8 had been placed in subsidised (3) employment training.. At that time, 530 were still in training.

(1) Interest on loans srantod to Aboriines from the Capital Fund have been abolished under the present Administration. (2) Dunstan, D.A., Aborip:inal Land T:itle in South Australia,in Sharp and Tatz, •op.cit., p.323. (3) For a detailed description of the scheme and other Department

of Labour neta.vities with regard to Aborigines see Departl7ent of :Labour sbmission to the Senate Stawling Comittee on the Social Envirorricnt, o T).cit„, p p . 355-36l.


The Australian Government is pledged to implement legislation to ensure that Aborigines receive the standard rate of wages for the job and that they receive the same industrial ' protection as other Australians. Special provision

is to be made for employment in regions where Aborigines reside.



Some Aborigines continue to live a nomadic or semi-nomadic life and do not want a house. At present many full-blood Aborigines live in -viltjas or wurlies and move camp fre quently (most commonly because of the death of a significant membor of the family or tribe. Filtjas are then traditionally

burnt). On g overnment settlements and missions attempts have been made to house full-bloods in one room transitional houses, but without success. After a death the house is unlikely to be reoccupied. To meet the needs of tribal Aborigines one

architect has recommended in-ovisien of a well designed synthetic component hich can be simply fitted together to construct a ,Tiltja. (2)

Bush or sa-li-tribal (or reserves and mission settlements)

In. the Northern Territory South Australia and Western Australia a system of 3-stage housing has until recently operated on reserves and missions.

(a) First-staP,9 or "Priarv 'ransitional" - in the Northern Territory these are one room shelters, with no water or electricity, v-ith comounal toilets and ablutions and co:Amunal dining rooms. In Western Australia 'camping

reserves 1,7cre set up in 1949 for Aborigines concentrated near toms. In June 1972 there were 49 occupied camping reserves equipped vith, in total, 401 houses of primary

t r ansitiona l standard.(3)


(1) From the p latform of the Australian Labor Party, adopted at the 29th Conference, Launceston, June 1971. (2) HeIhee, K.A. "Aboriginal Housin" in Abori.crinal Honsin: A Report of A Seminar on Aboricinal Housin, Canberra,

50,11 February 1972. (3) Annw.l .Tetort_of the Western Australian Department of Native i elfare, June 1972.


50 .

(h) Second .stage or "standard transitional" - in the Northern Territory, a two roomed house, often an extension of the first stage, with individual water and electrical connections, is provided. In estern Australia, these

have three bedrooms, kitchen, living-ro( y a, laundry, ablation and toilet facilities. In June 1972 there were 297 standard transitional houses in Western Australia and 7 more were under construction.


(0 ) Third sta

n :e or "conventional housing " - based on State Housing Commission designs with electric or gas stoves and hot water. In Western Australia there were 425 of

this standard with 69 more under construction in June 1972. (2)

The philosophy behind transitional housing is that as a family increases its experience of sedentary living it will be capable of looking after progressively more com p lex homes. A shortage of such housing exists. In Western Australia in June 1972

there were 1,123 houses of the three varieties. In January 1972, the Western Australian Depart5ient of Native Welfare estimated that there iere, at least, 1,600 fainilies living in

urban situations recuirin adequate housing and at least 400 families livin on reserves in the North', North West and East Goldfields requiring housin[2:.U)

Since 1968 the transitional housing Drocrammes have been phased out and all ousing erected since then has been of the conventional standard. This iolicy is also followed in Victoria, New South Vales, Queensland and Taaania.

In addition to the normal housing p ro les on government settlements and missions, a new anproach of self-help housing is being aTTlied in estern Australia, South Australia and the Northern Territory. In t le latter, grn.nts from the

Aborigines Benefits Trusts Vund and from the Departnent of

(1) ibid. (?) ibid. (3) Morgan, K.I. (Sunerintendat of Houzin f ,

: Department of

Native Welfare, Uestern Australia). "Aborl frinal Housing, Western Australia, 1945-71". Per given to Aboriginal Bousint x, Seminal . , op.cit.


Aboriginal Affairs, have been made to legally incorporated housin7 associations under the control of the Aboriginal community. In the Northern Territory, in 1970 four self-help projects rere awarded grants totalling . 160,000 and in 1971-72,

tA00,500 1--as provided for seven more projects.

Outback Abori7ines (7 tbe DPotoral rroperties)

Few cattle 'stations provide anything more than the equivalent of Primary transitional or first stage housing. Aborigines employed under the Cattle Station Industry (Northern Territory) Award are entitled to single accommodation (no

provision for wife or families) but few Aborigines are meTlbers of a anion and it is therefore not mandatory for the employer to p rovide this accommodation.

In 1970 the Minister for the Interior established a committee under the Chairmanshi p of-lrofessor C. A. Gibb to review the situation of Aboriginal communities on pastoral properties in the Northern Territory.

The Comrittee re p orted in December 1971 and recom aded, inter alia9that

as far as practicable family housing units shoul• be provided ,,Jith their own y a,ter roints, cookin g , ablution and lavatory facilities. (1)

the Government should extend its policy of making financial assistance - available to Aboriines on settle,ents, missions and, in to ,,,ns - to Aboriginal ocmmunities on pastoral p ro p erties to ensure, in

consultation Tc7ith pastoralists, that appropriate accommodation is available for all members of the comunity and rith the maximua! participation of Aborigines in all stages of sInlotural design,

development and iMrrovement 2)

(1) The Situation o7-'7 Aboriincs on P.LEIs212,122xDrtles ,J. A.,221a Northern l'erriter7. Report of the Cownittee of Review', • ik:ceobor 1971, (2) ibid, p.51.



Fringe Dwellers

Fringe dwellers generally live in crude, self-made shelters on the outskirts of towns. Most of the camps are not "officially sanctioned" and no later or services are provided. Lack of hygiene is therefore inevitable. In the Northern.-

Territory the Federal Government has provided some facilities to these frinp:e settlements. A statement on Aboriginal housing on such settlerments, by the then. Department of the Interior,

to a seminar on Aboriginal housing, reported:

"Permanent life in a fringe camp is no basis for acceptance rithin the wider camanity and is a negative factor in the education of children and the emp loyment of their parents ... The

principles covering the provision of facilities at these cam ps are that, while it is necessary to ensure ade q uate health and hygiene services and basic shelter, this should not represent an

encourap:e ent Lo oerarert reF2icence since those using me camps genere-.1_,y have access to permanent acconmodation at a settlement." (1)

Unless housinF, construction increases to meet demand it appears inevitab l e that the fringe delling population ill increase.


Aborigines in touns and cities are generally housed in slum areas. Accommodation is difficult for Aborigines to obtain, attracts high rents as T7ell as : probably requiring large initial outlays by tenants in the form of "rental bonds".

In New South Wales, Aborigines applying for accommodation are considered under tiJTo schemes:

(1) the ordinary progra= for non-Aborigines, and (2) a "Ames for Aborigines" scheme, managed by the Housing Commission.

Families are allocated to to houses "-rhen the family reaches an acce p table standard". ( 2


(1) Report of Seminar on Aboriginal 'lousing, (2) 'Report of New South Wales Department of anild Welfare and Social Welfare (1971).


Emphasis is on siting houses in towns and cities with greater employ:lent potential. It is the (N.S..) Department of Social Welfare's policy not to build more houses on reserves situated away from the tums.(


In 1971, the number of houses for Aborigines managed by the Housing Commission in New South Wales was:

(a) Existing Houses 740

(b) Under construction 112

(c) Approved aTr)lications for housin g: under the Homes for Aborigines Scheme 426

In addition, there were 218 houses for Aborigines managed by the Department of Child l' elf are and Social Welfare.

Inner Sydney

The general situation of Aborigines in Sydney is notod in Appendix 1.(2)

One imnortant development aimed at 1.eeting the housing and other s p ecific needs of the Aboriginal in the urban environment is the comunity housing project at -Redfern.

...4:-6 . ,,, to.,,,; .,4 ..


t wiepcbs i ,ru t

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I. , _t r rnrfirr/41-; in( r _- ....,,d,-,,,Ii ji-u

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,,..,4... i ri.„i. , .:. 1;4 ' ' ,i- , 1- 1- .1 . " .;.,-, A \i„ .. ,..,- -- -".3 t i- ......-:! tf ? .7.17..Py to r: vu.c. 11 4-,...44: 0:411-70L1- :12cLiaL4l'/Fii!Gli ST Co l in James lan of rronosed develo- ent.

(1) ibid.

(2) More adeounte inforTation is available from the D. Scott and Co. 1.- 3.2port on 35rdney's p opulatl:m recently 1--ao available (June 1 0 73) but not yet ac q uired by the 1Parliairentary Library.


Lately the Commonwealth government has authorised negotiation for the purchase of 41 terraced houses in the inner city suburb of Redfern for development by an Aboriginal Co-operative Housing Society. The Society on registration will receive a Government grant of : i:530,000 to cover the cost of the houses

and necessary improvements.

The plan, advanced by the Aboriginal Housing Committee involves,

(a) a communal courtyard, created by knocking down the back fences;

(b) a clinic for alcoholics and the sick; (c) a pre-school centre staffed by black mothers and trained teachers; (d) workshop facilities for young people;

(e) a cultural centre to encourage development of traditional art forms; (f) a legal service;

(g) a social club.

The Housing Committee will act as landlord and the money collected y dll be paid back to the Commonealth against its original investment.

A broadsheet issued by the Aboriginal Housing Committee says:

"The y hole aim of the Project As to bring Aboriginal - people toget'acr so that Ti:e Can live the way i: Tc want to live and share what Ye have with each other ... nen 7e are livin.7 together y e iill be able to help

each other, to learn sills, to get jobs and

more im p ortantly we p ill be prou fa of our houses, and proud of our caam'anity." (1)

As such, the plan is a focus of Aboriginal self-help projects, like the legal and health services, and is an extension of the consciousness and demand for self-detemination in an urban context.

(1) flation Pcvia , '„ March 30 - 5 April a973, p.717.



. A paper to

(conducted by the Re February 1972) noted

the seminar on Aboriginal housing al Australian Institute of Architects in that housing programmes for Aborigines

should -




involve the Aborigines in the planning and construction of the houses;

plan with due regard to cultural, social and family structure;

use indigenous materials and allow some self- expression in the manufacture of components.

Following from the success and kno wledge gained in pioneer rork in Aboriginal housing at Finke, McPhee has recommended a basic house flexible in design and construction that would alloy an increase in complexity and in facilities as the occupants

"learn to live in the houses and use them as Euro p eans do". Houses are now being built to such a design.

The seminar concluded that Aboriginal self-help programmes in the field of house design and construction could -

(i) (ii) (iii)


assist government policy in making the Aboriginal peoi.)le indep endent, responsible and self-reliant;

provide sore economic housing;

help participants acquire ne-, , skills which may increase their eployment potential; f,17,d

enable them to develep fors of housing iehich truely satisfy their oT:n. needs. (1)

(1) Report of Seminar on Aboriginal housing, op.cit.


"We have an obligation to remove methodically from Australia's law and practices all racially discriminatory provisions." (1)

In December 1965, the General Assembly of the United Nations passed an International Convention on

the ElirAination of all For7is of Racial Dicrimin!:tion.

Australia signed the Convention in 1966 but

to date has not ratified it. In March 1970 discussions on

changes in State legislation to enable Australia to sign. the Convention took place at a meeting of the Standing Committee of

CommonITealth and. • State Officers on Aboriginal Affairs. On

9 July 1971, the former Prime Minister, Rt Hon. W. McMahon stated:

"It is not possible for me to indicate at this stage when Australia might become a party to the Convention ... With reference to discriminating legislation against Aborigines, the government has pledged that it 11111 all be removed by the

end of 1972." (2)

The discriminatory legislation to which the Prime "Minister referred as existing in the States is set out below.

host of the lars, with the exception of the Queensland Act, have been repealed.

Dlscrininatirp! eI-islation Against Aborifl Yines . •

1. Before 1972, in Western Australia, the definition of

Aboriginal as stated in the Native Welfare Act was concerned (1) with ni-onortiens of 'blood content. The Native Welfare Act 7as repealed by the Aboriginal Affairs Planning Authority Act, 1972. The old definition of "native" is retained for

the Electoral Act, 1007 and for section. 23 of the Fauna

Conservation Act, 1950.

(1) lion.E.G.Thitla, Common7ealth 2arliaentary Debates, house of Representatives, 24 Jay 1973, p.2649. (2) In rel)ly to a letter from the Australian Committee to Combat Racism End Racial Discrimination, quoted Lip pman, L.,

Vor c' (1 1 ' Elos, -(3) eflnition of Aboriginal from the 1963 Native Welfare Act, VerAe-on Australia: "Any person of the full blood descended from the

original inhabitants of Australia: and any person of less than full blood tho is descended from the original inhabitants of Australia except a person so descended who is only one fourth or less than

one fourth of the original full blood."



2. The Western Australian Native (Citizenship Rihts) 'Act, 1964, which stated that citizenship for Aborigines was a prIvilege,was repealed by the Native (Citizenship Rights) Act, Repeal Act, 1971.

3. The South Australian Aborigines Affairs Act, which prevented Aborigines from returning to a reserve,Yas repealed by the Community Welfare Act, 1972.

4. The Queensland Acts.

The Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders Act, Noveber 1971, re p ealed an earlier Act of 1965. Lippmaniciaims that the new Act retains discriminatory features. There are secial tests of eligibility for candidates standing for election

to reserve councils. These councils consist of two elected and two aupointed representatives. Power of veto is vested in the Director of Aboriginal and Island Affairs. The Director can still e7:ert a large measure of control over Aborigines lives

by granting or withholding special assistance at his discretion. (1)

The Federal Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Hon. G. Bryant, E.P., has criticised the system ,Thereby social service benefits and wages for some Aborigines are paid into stecial trust accounts administered by the State, and the

system which recluires permits for visits to the Aboriginal reserve on Palm Island.

On 18 January T .:r Bryant requested the Queensland government to transfer resronsibility for ia1m island to the Vederal ?Toverment. This re quest, plus requests to Queensland (as to other States) to bend Over control of Aboriinal affairs

to the Federal 'Government, have been unsuccessful. On 19 June 1973 the Prime Minister, the Hon. E.G. Yhitla]n, announced that during the budget session legislation will be introduced into the 2edera1. Parlia=nt to override discri glinatory provisions in

the Queensland Aboriginal and Island Affairs leFislation.

). Lo rt -CT.; I 1

Lippmariaclaims that there is also discriminatory Federal legislation in the Northern Territory.

"Access to reserves ID:s non-Aborigines is at the discretion of the Director of Social welfare or

( 1 ) , ';1077'd S Or_ M. , 1 . (sec also A

p --,-) encl.ixV )


his officers, not of the Aborigines concerned ... A - ,'elfare officer may sus p end. for up to thirty days, the right of any person to enter and remain on a reserve." (1) Other Tnte-rational Con-Te-tions

The United Nations has passed two other Conventions on human rights to Ithich Australia has concurred:

(a) The International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. (b) The International Covenant of Civil and Political Rihts.

These ere sirzned by Australia on 23 January 1973 and should be ratified - ,ithin 12 months Of the following Conventions of the International Labour Organization:

No.107 - Indigenous and Tribal Po pulations, 1957 (which requires that recognition be given to an indigenous peo p les right to onership of land ' which they have traditionally occupied) . has

yet to be signed by Australia,

No.111 - Discrimination (Employment and Occupation), 1950 (which requires the elimination of discrimination on the basis of race, colour, sex, religion, political opinion, national extraction or social

origin) was signed in mid-June, 1973.

he present Goverrcrlent's policy includes ratification of "all the relevaia . United nations and.I.TJ.0. Conventions" to prohibit racial discrimination.

D r‘vo]oP-1 ,-int : A Ne-J ZeaL-Ind

Twtz (2) notes that the individual Aborigine, like the " poor white" stands naked before administrative organization -whether, in the case of the Aborigine, it is governmental, mission or pastoralist. This is especially true of tho socially

disorganized frine dwelling part-Aborigine groups, wherein there is no recoumle to the financial or moral support of fellow organization members.

(1) Liptrarin, L. , op. cit., (2) Tat, 0.11. 'Aborigines Taw and Political Development", Australian guarterl- r, June 1970.


Tatz su7,9:ests legal incorporation of the Aboriginal community along the lines of the successful iLaori incorporations recognised by the Naori Social and Economic Advancement Act. This, he am:ues, would give the Aborigine greater confidence

in his dealings with legal administration and clearer expression through the nouthpieces of elf arc officer3and lawyerscl)

Another legal construct used inNew Zealand - based on traditional Ylaori systems ' - is the Maori Committee system, one of whose functions is the trial of l f,aori offenders. The accused may elect to be Chan7ed before an ordinary court or by the Maori Committer. The Committee has, however, only limited

jurisdiction - the maximum fine is minimal. Haori wardens acting as a Maori police force limit contact with and conflict between "white" police and "black" offenders.

In December 1971 the New Zcalard p arliament passed a 1Zace , Relations Act which cane into effect in April 1972, imPlarrlentinj the International Convention on the Elimination of 1,11 Forms of Racial Discrimination. Under the terms of the

Act an. individ-/al may bring criminal prooecdin7s against another who prevents access to places, vehicles, facilities, provision. of .;oods and services, employment, land-, housing and acco:amodation. E ..aployers are liable for the racism of their


Aborl i.nes and Petty Crime The high p ropeylsity to minor crime amongst Aborir--irals . is reflected. in the fact that 5'; of the total Le 7..T South male prison population are Abori7inal men and 16;; of the female

prison ocpulation are Aboriginal women - very much higher than the p roportion. of Abori p7in es in the p onu1ation. (2) As •yet

unpublished research by Collett and Graves of the University of Adelaide indicates that in 1972, in Port Augusta, ( 1 .A.) • AboriFinal convictions made up 72.13 per cent of all convictions whereas Aborigines represent only 5i of the population of the to-m. Various reports indicate that these figures mv be representative

for Wstern Australia generally.

(1) Part of the present Government policy is incorporation of Aboriginal co inunities for their own social and economic purposes. See also discussion of incorporation in '::oodvard Committee Interim 'Rep ort on AbowiinalLn.d


Riell ts, A117. 1973.

(2) See Anendix I. (3) Report of Monash . Conference of Law S t udents, Canber


a Times,

18 may, 1973; P.R. Vilson, in neNally V. Goodbye DretirTle, 1973, p. 146 etc.


Amongst Aborigines the incidence of habitual offenders is also high. Imprisonment a p pears to have little deterrent effect.

- The hostility to the laws and institutions of the dominant society engendered by the "culture of poverty" has been noted above. In this sense, minor offences may be regarded as by-products of deprivation and the deviant nature of the offenders'

surroundings. Offences against property may equally be seen as actions to relieve the sense of deprivation. To some, going to gaol may present a relief to the more intolerable social conditions outside.

On the other hand, as Dr P.R. Wilson of the University of Queensland points out:-

'The tendency for -police to saturate Aboriginal areas with large numbers of foot and car patrols does a lot to account for the high arrest rate of blacks. khile drunkeness may be p revalent in

these areas so it is in many white hotels and clubs where police are tolerant of this behaviour..." (1)

A ne, Jefore the Courts

Aborigines before the courts encounter some of the following difficulties largely attributable to cultural problems:

(a) because of languae dilficulties many Aborigines do not comprehend court language anl procedures. (This is aggravated by the fact that few are legally represented). Many do not understand the charges

laid against them and even interpreters find, them difficult to translate. This leads to, and perpetuates misunderstandings. Jim Lester, an . Aboriginal social 'orker and interpreter in Alice prins, has elaborated

on the lanuae difficulties of Aborigines before the court, thus:

"They (the Aborigines) use the negative differ;rntly. If they are asked, 'Did you or did you not do that?' they will say 'Yes' meaning 'Yes, I did not do it,...' The (Aboriginal) peop le have no understanding of

connecting or oualifyin7 -ords like 'if' or 'but', 'because', 'or'. In (Aboriginal) language there is no word for 'because', 'at', 'or'', 'by', 'with', 'over', 'under and so on. Many of the p eople 1then

they s p eak Enlish leave out these words ... he have a different sense of time and people just don't understand vhen they are ased, long were you there?' ... The some applies to numbers

(Aborigines) are confused about places. If asked 'Did you go into his house?' they viii say 'Yes', Ti may have been only in the drive-ay or inside the fence, but this means 'in the house' to

teu." (2)


e l A

( 0 in 1,1r:,,: aCh.r. Gocut)ve Dream67Lme, Dr P.R. Wilson in McNally


(b) fear oftlayillal - : In the Aboriginal culture the person of whom tales are told have the right to fight and s p ear the tale-teller . ("payback"). This right affects Aborigines appearing as witnesses. It also makes them

afraid to tell of ill treatment by, for exam p le,the police.(1) (c)• "conflict of laws" : There is often a conflict between tribal and European law. Very often tribal law gives to the Aborigina l the right to do something considered illegal

by the Euro p ean legal system e.g. polygamy, assaults on persons during initiation ceremonies and death -oenalties for •offences against sacred laws. In many cases judges and magistrates acknowlede this conflict of interests by mitigating punishment

rather than accepting tribal law as a valid legal defence. Dr. Eggleston, senior lecturer in law at Vonsh University has recommended recently that Aboriginal communities, specifically in the Northern Territory be alla y ed to conduct their own

criminal trials and punishment. (2)

(d) Other IT.r9blems - someAborigines do not distinguish between bail and the actual penalty. Many on bail do not show up for

sentence. - there is also a tendency for Aborigines, to acquiesce in what he thinks the white man in 'authority

wants of him. Eew aborigines plead not guilty, and many feel it would be useless to do so. n

The (Redfern) Aboriginal Legal Service, initiated by r.J.1; 1 Coe and operating under the chairaanship of Professor J.II-Wootten, Q.C., of the Faculty of Law of the University of New South Iles, has attem-oted to extend legal protection to

Aborigines unable to protect themselves. The Service is ( A ) reported to handle 80 casco a week, mostly street offences. ' In addition, the Commonwealth Government has securecl the assistance of voluntary agencies to extend the existing

le57a1 services for Aborigines to other areas in Australia. 850,000 has been. set aside by the Commont-ealth for a scheme to meet all legal costs of Aborigines before the courts.

(1) Ibid. (2) F.--'; 1eston, -E. paper to Crime Conference, Helbourne, as reported in The Age, 13/8/73- (3), Carrick, J. "A b origines and the Law", Nation, June 14th, 1969. (4 . 2 The Ae. 6 June 1973.



R.M. Berndt notes that traditf.onal ethnocentricity

amongst Aborigines has resulted in the absence of any aver-arching political or ganisation, linking social units,or organisation of any scale. Such. an orientation encouraged the development of a hard shell of self-Sufficiency and an acce-otance of things as they were, virtually unalterable.

"As far as ve know, there were no protests against the social order as such, no attempt to change the fundamental conditions of living." (1)

Even in the history of "culture clash', he notes , there have been few internally sp onsored reactions against what was happening.

Acceptance and retreat were more usual.

This tretreatfrom confrontation' plus the traditional

absence of hierarchical leadership are quoted by Rowley as

resnonsible for the absence of spokosTen who might in time

have been recognised as leaders. (2)

The :Stimulus to protest, Berndt maintains, came from outside agents concerned 1Tith. Aboriginal welfare:-

"Signs of discontent were already present within the Aboriinal situation; they awaited the necessary lines of communication, resources and ability to orFanise wilich the lborigines lacked, but ,-hich

the outside ap:ents p ossessed." (3)

Protest began shortly after the last y ax'. But in more recent times the most siE,nificant nrotests have been by the aurindji movement for their own land, followed by that of the Tirrkala of Gave. As a result, Rowley notes, both the Gurindji and

Yirrkala, with the help of some Australians, now have incipient organisation and leadership.

"The Aborigines are entering political activity in their o y n. interest ... But these movements have caught the interest of Aboriinal i rou-,)s. in the settled areas, ,.-here expropriation has been much

more complete ana the old tradition has been lost." (4)

— —

(1) Berndt, R.K. "The Concept of Protest Y:-i.thin an Australian Aboriginal Context" in R.L. Berndt A fueston of Choice, P.26.

(2) Row ley, C.D., Outcasts in ' q hite Pociety, p.181.

(3) Berndt, on.oht., p.32. (4) Ro-le, C. I) "Aboriines and the Land", 'Identity, JI,ly 1971,


Sections of the Aboriginal population in the cities, the fringe settlements and reserves have begun to demand

voluntary separation for some of their communities,or community

services, in the pursuit of a new life style based on the

communi-by cohesiveness and group decision processes of the more

traditional society combined with the technical advantages of

modern society.

In this context Aboriginal communities are formulating

and administering their own p lans for medical and legal

services, schools and pre-schools, administered by Aborigines

with European Australian technical aid. (e.g. the Aboriginal

Health and Legal Services and Comunity houSing project in


Within this context an Aboriginal Black Power movement has emerged demanding for the Aboriginal people freedom and

resources to deternine their ( y en destiny. Equal employment

housing and educational opportunities and equality before tile lan are amongst their demands. These have been summarized by

Bobbi Sykes 2S:

1. Statehood for the Northern Territory: a Black State at-ned and controlled by Aborigines.

2. Community control for reserves and community ownership Of mIn P rEU. riqitE3.

3. Coeleensation for detribalised urban blacks.

4. Black control of blace- affairs at all levels. (1)

Mite backlash

The Hon. J. Bjelhe-Peterson, Premier of Queensland,

has attacked present government p olicy as promoting a policy

of apartheid:-

"The A.I.P. rather than seeking eouality for Aboriginal and Islander people is in fact de-eanaing p

referential treatment for them It a pp ears t

l eet it ie p art of Labor's policy

to snoneor neeisie in reverse in Neensiand and other States ..." (2)

. . -

(1) Quoted in Race Today, Vol.4, No.12, December 1972. (2) Courier-nail, 11 A p ril 1972.


Special benefits already extended to Aborigines have led to some . •resentment amonF, the "poor-white" po pulation. This resentment,combined with existing racial attitudes, threaten

to exacerbate race relations. The area of Redfern, in which the

Aboriginal housing project is being established, is already quoted as a possible flash-point for the first race-riots.

In the Northern Territory, a "Rights for Territorians"

organisation has been established and has called for a Royal Commission to examine the running of the De p artment of Aboriginal Affairs.

The danger of Ihite resentment of "positive discrimination" towards Aborigines has been recognised by the Aborigines in the rest Queensland town of Cloncurry where the Eitakoodi Association representing the toun i s Aborigines

called for aid to be on the basis of need rather than colour. (1)

Mrs Lorna Lippmann has suggested:

"Aboriginal advances must not be made at the expense of the alienated, the outcast and the poor ,of /:Thatever eolour,iirho should be joint beneficiaries in programes of social chan7e." (2)

(1) The Age, 30 March 19734 (2) Lipnmacn, Ti., nrds or Elmrs, p.205.



Before 1972 the State and Commonwealth Governments agreed unanimously on assimilation as a policy goal.

"The policy of assimilation", as defined at a 1965 conference of the States and Commonwealth governments, "seeks ( V that all persons of •Id)original descent will choose ' to attain a similar manner and standard of living to that of other

Australians and live as =bers of a single Australian community."

Assimilation to be successful must bring about changes in the structure of Aboriginal society so that its values, norms and patterns of interaction become congruent with those operating in the dominant society. Many such changes have •

occurred but many vital aspects of traditional .culture have endured and where they have not, as in the cities, a developing ethnicity demands the redevelopment of Aboriginal culture as a means of identification against the impingeents of the

dominant society. ("e have to find our culture. We rant the people y ho know to come in and teach us and we rant to modernise it ... " (2)).

The education system is generally regarded as the -prime means of assimilation but ap:pears unable to overcome the primary socialisation of the Aboriginal child by its parents.

In 1972 there was a change in Government policy. On Australia Day the former Primo Hinister, Rt Hon, W. YoVahon, presented a speech that referred neither to the word nor the concept of assimilation.

According to Mr Iic -,iahon, the government reco(Tnised

the reed for Aborigines to have greater opportunities as Australian citizens .with full freedom to choose their own -:-ay of life." (3)


(1) Hon. C. Yentw-orth, "Role of the Commonwealth", Hutchinson, 1).E.(ed.) in AboriFiral Pro7ress. A Few Era? "The policy says, c'do net seek the saale manner and standard of life, but a similar one and the important thin is

the introduction of the (2) Dick Blair as quoted above. (The Age, Melbourne, 6 June 1973). (3) Australia Aborigines Commonwealth Policy and Achievements, January 1972, p.4.

Liberal government policy and objectives were stated to be:-(a) assistance as individuals, or as groups, at the local community level, to hold "effective and respected places within one Australian society", with equal

access to rihts, opnortunities and responsibilities.

(b) encouragement and assistance to preserve and develop their own culture, languages, traditions and arts.

(c) recognition of the rights of individual Aborigines to "effective choice about the degree to which, and the pace at which, they come to identify themselves with that society; and we believe that they will do so more readily and more happily when they are attracted

to it voluntarily and when their membership of it encourages them to maintain and take pride in their identity, traditions and culture. The concert of separate development as a long term aim is utterly

alien to these _objectives. „ (1)

(d) policies. must "take into account the expressed wishes of the Aboriginal Australians themselves.” Aborigines should increasingly be enabled to "achieve their goals by their own efforts".

(e) a programme should be worked out and administered, in collaboration Tith the States that would

(i) encourage and strengthen their capacity increasingly to manage their o lql affairs -as individuals, grou ps, and as communities, at the local level.

(ii) increase their economic independence.

(iii) reduce existing social and other handicaps facing theth in health, housing, education and vocational training; and (iv) promote their enjoyment of normal civil

liberties and eliminate remaining provisions in law which discriminate against them.

(1) Critics have argued that by denying the possibility, of sep arate develo pment which some Aborigines may want, the element of choice is limited. Abschol, in a letter to Mr Nixon, dated 16/9/70, had sometime previously noted

"you talk in terms of creating a single society. Ve reject this ethnocentric ap p roach uecause it does not recognise reality, i.e. that ours is a raid -racial society and because the policy does not

reconise the basic riht of Peo-ole in a dewocre-,.,




" special care and assistance" is needed for Aboriginal individuals or groups for the transitional progress toward these objectives.

(g) "The Government intends that Aboriines should have the o pp ortimitv while maintaininp:, if they wish, their traditional wa rs of life to ent er the general econoTrkic system, not simply as providers of unskilled

labour, but as providers of skilled services, as independent p roducers and as proprietors and managers of enterprises." (1)

Aboriginal Land Ricits were not recognised. Instead the government proposed a new form of land lease, called a General Purpose Lease, available on certain conditions to Aborigines as individuals, groups or communities on Aboriginal

reserves in the Northern Territory for economic and social Purposes. The leases were for up to 50 years. Rental was to be minimal, and subject to review every ten years. All mineral and forest rights were reserved to the Crown.

A special allocation of funds, with an initial appropriation of t5 million, was to be provided to buy)for Aboriginal communitieserecommended areas of land off reserves as they came on the market..

The non-recognition of land rights beca7ie the major area of contention. Critics who saw the recognition of Aboriginal land rights as synonymous with reconition of the Abori:=Eines ri7ht to maintain or adopt a different vay of life and different

sets of values, felt that the government was maintaining its general policy of assimilation.

However, there was considerable Aboriginal response to the General Purpose Lease Scheme-, such that the then Ninieter for the Interior, Hon. R.J.D. Hunt, could announce in Nay 1972: "In recent months, I have ap-eroved 97 leases sought by

Aborigines ranginT from pastoral leases to business leases."

(1) Australian Aborigines Commonealth Policy and Achievement. (912,



The overriding principle of the present Australian government's policy is one of community self-determination for

the Aborigines. Self-determination has been defined as -

"Aboriginal communities deciding the p ace and

nature of their future development, as significant components within a diverse Australian society." (1)

Such a policy involves -

(a) provision for differences in traditions, cultures,

-systems and interests.

(b) non-imposition of goals on unwilling communities.

(e) freedom of communities to evolve their own forms of

organizations at their o 7 :7n pace.

(d) land ovnership as a pre-requisite to community organization.

(e) a measure of freedom in the use of resources provided by Government.

(f) involvement of the community in the executive processes , ihere services and resources were provided by government

and other organizations. (2)

In line with this policy Hon.G.Dryant, Minister for

Aboriginal Affairs, recently convened in Canberra a consultative committee representing the Aboriginal people - 77 members of all

the Aboriginal co 7 ri munities of Australia. This body is engaged in "establishing a renresentative body based upon an electoral system to be designed by themselves, so that it will be, in

effect, the continuing consultative body to the Government. n(3)

'(1) Conclusion of Seminar on Aboriginal Develotment in the Northern Territory, Batchelor, Mal-e l l 1973, as quoted in Press Ycaterneni, :

, Ilnister for AboriFinal Affairs,

Canberra, 29 1 ;lareh 1973. (2) ibid. (3) Commonwealth Parliamentary Debates, House of Representatives, 7 March 1973.


Mr Bryant in his speech on the States Grants

(Aboriginal Advancement) Bill 1973 stated:-

If there is a social key to the sitaation it is in this continuous consultation with the Aboriginal people

We ... have never believed that AborifAnal communities should be treated as anything else but communities in themselves ..,, So we are taking, steps to establish - with the Aboriginals and by

consultation with them - community centres or municipalities in which they will conduct their own affairs. We are taking ste ps to hand the responsibilities for their programs and for the

direction of their lives back to the -Aboriginni communities." (1)

As such, this policy is in line with the recommendations of

many of the writers reviewed above. For example, J.H. Downing


"To understand and help the group to use its traditional methods of organization towards the fulfilment of new goals promises co-operation and the possibility of change and advance." (2)

And 'R. T. Appleyard writes:-

Aborigines are a community orientated rather than a nation-orientated groun and need an institation which will strengthen their own ccr 7imunity and at the same time act as a bridge to the major society." (5)

In some respects the policy of close- consultation is

in accord with the January 1972 statement of the Liberal/Country

Party coalition g overnment as stated by the former Prime Minister, Rt Hon. f. Kchahon:-

"At all stages Al,origines are now being encouraged to have a more effective voice not only in relation to Government but in their local environments and in the conduct of their own affairs."

(1) ibid.

(2) Downing, J.H., "Consultation and Self-Determination ir the Social LeveloPtiont of Aboriines" in Borndt, R.h.(ed.), A Question of Choice, o.72. (3) Appleyard, R.T. "Overview" in Throssell, H. (ed.)

Ethnic Yino-rities_iri 1968, p.I75.


Critics of self-determination see in it elements of a paradox; thus, if Aborigines are permitted to be involved in decision-making, in community participation, in expressing their o- en values which nre often in conflict with those of the major society, an entity is produced which is vigorous,

confident and capable but could be directed towards separatism and isolation, leading in turn to fear, mistrust, hatred and jealousy. ( )

On the other hand, as MT Ian Mitchell, the N.S.W. State Director of Aboriginal Welfare has indicated:-

"It must be conceded that develo pment of any soCial unit is achieved throu gh the unit itself accepting responsibility for its own destination. If it chooses to be different, inferiority is not a

necessary consequence." (2)

In other words, the possibility of separation as a consequence of self-determination is a risk that must be t aken and subsumed under the general principle of Aboriginal responsibility for their own dcvelopAent.

Education anl ';!el-Ca-e0 LETESTATIV '' SEAT),CH SERVICE

( R.D.) 4/9/73

(1) Hon.R.J.D. hunt, former Hinister for the Interior -- "the land rights p olicy is separatist and divisive,.. (it) could well lead the Aborigines in the Northern Territory back to nomadic subsistence... .(it) could .lead to racist

divisions in Australia." Press statement, Canberra, 15 December 1972. (2) Mitchell, J. "Paradoxes in Aboriginal Welfare", S p eech to Save The Children Fund (11. .V.' Division), 25 October 1972.


" in S IN I.• A "7"."vri :1„.

A recent study of Sydney's 1 ,boriginal community by the consultant group U. D. Scott (commissioned by the New South ';'ales government) is re p orted . to have found that: thee are 7:1-0 7;.n.d 9,000 Abori

g ines at present

in the 'Sydney region. Approximately 50% live in the inner city areas of St. Peters, Redfern, Glebe and Newtown. Anoter 30 are located in State Housin7 Commission areas in the city's western suburbs. .15Y live in the

inner city "fringe" and the remainder live in the La Perouse settlement.

- within 10 years the Aboriginal population will have doubled. Aborigine ..s coming into Sydney are mainly under 35 years of age: At present one third of the Abori g inal community in

S7dney is under thirty five. By 1 982 it will be close to one half. 95 c , of the women are of child bearing age or youner. (The infant mortalit y rate for the Sydney area is double

the average- white i,ustralian rate).

- the 9,000 Aborlf4nal residents com p rise 1,850

households.-- Over 25 of these households have no running water. 25% eitl:er share a bathroom or have none. 15 did not have, or shared, • kitchen. '2he average rent is .'417.60 (aT_Trox.

25= , of net he ehold income).

of the :1 10 of the female Aboriginal corriundtv have received four years high school eductItion.. AT) p72oximately 75 of te . orjjinal children regu l arly received primary school

education. 20 of D.rban Aborigines are regularly unemployed. 7;4 have only casual epTlevment, 30% of the 1 5-19 years age group are unemployed.

18Y . of the 20-24 years age group are ur-mployed. ve ly income is ;567. Skilled -rorkers nay taYe hone 11.72 to :7 73 and ur7,1rilled workers up to t:;4 a week. -- 10%of-1,7,1-10-irimetec yl 2 nenal

institutions are Aborigines. (1) _ _

(1) Scott re p ort on Sydrli 1972-73 as renortd in The Finapc-)F1 Revie7, 10 1 .1ay 1973. The report hn .,.: 7 recently beee- 1 (lte Jun 197.A.

A.1/17-END -U II.

1• "1-,TOT 7q 4:301? Tr' 7:71)10 r[JXT 1, LT ' IPT}z, _ .

With regard to the involvement of Aboriginal people in health p rogrammes, Do ing, a Minister of the United Church, Alice Springs, Northern Territory, has noted that "any such programmes should involve the training and employment of Aboriginal aides and auxilliaries. This needs to include the

training of men and women to assist nursing and health education p ersonnel; - the training of men andwomen to recognise simple illnesses and dispense simple medicines, and to recognise the need to refer to the sister or doctor; the involvement of medicine men in referral and treatment; and the preparation

of those with the cap acity who wish to train formally as nurses.

The medicine men are seen by the Aboriginal connunity as the only effective ans-,Jer to the causes of disease. The RP,vajo peoole have similar attitudes em7endered by the interrelation of their culture, religion and medicine, the

same unified system as that which is demonstrated within Aboriginal

Medicine men do not fade away, and the more pressured by our culture the Aboriginal people feel, the more they li_11 retv,rn to old patterns and practices in self-protection. The only _effective answer which seems to be feasible is to "join. 'em".

This possibility is at present bein g ex7)1ored by doctors in Central Australia's rural health scene. If we accord rie0.icine men the res-oect 1Jhich their co=unity gives thel:1, and seek to exchnge ideas and ex plore the p ossibilities of mutual helD

and cooperation, we may learn a lot. ';le may also greatly increase the effectiveness of our medicine,

The Possibilities can clearly be shown in con3iderin one common health hazard - gastro-enteritis.- Prior treatment by the medicine man may hold up medical treatment of children siEfferin,7 from gastro-enteritis -until a dangerous amount of . dehydration has .tal:en

p lace. .1.iutuaI coo p eration and tretTent,

could result in the oarly 'oresentation of a patien for treat:nent•on the order of the medicine man himself.

. (1) F.:lanson, P. "Indian Health Service •.odernizes Hedical Care aeservations" in Journal of thc American Ne(liol ''') q October 1971, Vo1.2M,

'There's a tremnndouk3 relat i onship that can be develo-oed betueen our medicine and the native medicine. In fact we allo medicine men to come into our hospitals and Derfor:a a sin, or pati ents to ,so home and have a sin. as ITIrt of the therapy we are 7ivin,f7 them. In the last five years, in

our mental health prorame, 1-e have found our relationshdT with the medicine man very productive.' (1)

(Source: Downing, j.H., "Health Education Across Cultural Barriers". Paper to the Research Seminar on Aborigimll Health Services. Konash University, ' ,lay 1972.)

S•uut n •• n••• n •n

(1) Paul Sampson, op.cit.


Y7,:t.: -J5 ' R A A A ,i_L-- --)4))))%,:t4f.(CW-(`



(Pages S 1- S 5)

Tnfonmation and discussion notes fur the use of the Aboriginal 'p eopla of the Northam Territory :elating to the recommendations and stig. q astions contained the First Report


This summary is written mainly. for the Aborielual people of the Northern Tcr7itory. I hope that it will be translated into Aboriginal languages and that all members of community councils will see copies of it.

I. I recom:nend to the government that it should set up two Aboriginal land councils for the Northern Ten itoty. The Northern Land Council should meet in Darwin arid the Central Land Connell should meet in Alice. Springs.

2. After their first meetings, the councils should decide for themselves where their members should come from, although they should try not to have too many members. Fo: the first meetings there should be one representative from each of the following places:

Northern Land Council

Bathurst 1:;land Melville Island (Snake Bay and Garden Point) Crol:cr

Goniburn Island Maningtida Kopango ingimbi

Galiwitiku Polio Is.) akf.:! Yirrkala ArT.:rnsu

Unibaktunba .Noinbulwar Nuulturr Cenpeill

Port Keats Daly River Baf.ut

Borroloola. Mainorn • Mudginberri Rope: Valley • . .

Victoria Rivet Downs Rot::-:lialnp ton Downs • Banka linka . • Drtinatte DoWns

Central Land Council

Amoonguna Jay Creek Hooker Creek Warrabri

Yuenriumn Paptmy a lIaasts Bluff Arey on ga

Herm an sbu rg Docker River Santa Teresa ac onald Downs

Utopia Tca 'free .

Napperby Willowra Lake Nash Neutral Junction Wattle Creek — Wave

Amato Ernabe.lIa Fregon Indunzana

Everard 'Park Balt:to Warburton

..Phttupi at ?aounya and Yay ayi Todd River camps

. .

3. • recommend that the government arran.3e arid py for independent legal • ady iaa for land council, • . s • . . . •

. , . . •.

4. F.a.,:h When it IlleCtS, 0.10;1

/ ..fl think ar'id ta:k about the suggestions

and quer,tions whi.rl: are written down in this summary. Careful otes of the " ttt' tI ta'.--.ett so that enh c;:n...nttni,y will 1aow oil olt,out [N.B. Original text ends here]

S. \Vhen the eon .reii mou l leis haVe ;cachet; ccis 1 on the 1:1aUc: they

are talltiug ahut. they ;A their lawyets thr. Cohnnis .,ion k y the

goYCrr;nen wh:t{ theyv:kruld like to Se•2ilne. S nue things would be or this Commission to lieat and other things nu t be for the government to hear.

6. If any community does not agree with the things the land councils decide, its council should say so and, if it worm to have advice from a lawyer of its own, it. should ask this Commission for help.

7. The suggestions I make about lend rights are, I believe, in line with the wishes of the Aboriginal people of the Northern Territory. But if 1 am wrong about this it is important for the land councils to say so.

8. I suggest that Aboriginal land should be owned by the different Aboriginal communitles. This seems clearly to be the right answer for places like Yuendumu, liennanitsburg, A.mooliguna, ‘Varrabri and the Tiwi people of Bathurst and Melville Islands,

9. Ir.: other eases, particularly in Arnhem Land and in the Central Reserves, I suggest that repic‘sentativcs of the different COMMUllilieS now begin talking to other neighbouring communities — as they are already doing in some places — about boundary lines. Where necessary, the Department of Aboriginal Affairs

should arrange transport for this purpose.

IQ. It seems likely that in some cases two or three communities will want to be together for land-owning purposes. This is something for the communities to decide for themselves.

II. In the case of any Aboriginal land which is unoccupied, or where it is hard to decide on boundaries. I suggest that an Aboriginal land council (either Northern or Central) should be the owner to begin with.

12. Only the older and stronger communities should be land-owners at first. As new communities" become stronger they should be able to ask for and own their own land.

13. Any difficulties about boundaries should be discussed at land council meetings. Boundaries should follow the general lines of the country owned by the clans livirg in each community, but they should he drawn az straight lines on a map, or follow livers, as far as possible_


14. E:rch comnniniN or group of communities should choose leaders to be a land. board for their 'I 'end. I suggest that there should he some :,:ouner people and some older people on these boards rind that the different clans should be fairly represented. Each community should decide whether it wants its land

board to be the saute as its community council or separate.

15. I suggest that, when they have been •set up and the land has been handed over to them, the land boards sliould decide all cluestions about tourlsts and visitors, minh y.z, c>:P1,:-)ra:ion, leases for Al:,uriAines a 7

klps-rmission for forestry or

eat ai gr,r , ,ing or fanninir. Whether the boards should actually be in charge of any 00 he land, ..uch as Malket garde.,;"?, cattle, forestr: or fishing, would be a matte .; for each community to decide.

16. eect that each board would tail( to the clan owners and managers of a particular piece of land before making any decision affecting it. In most cases one or more of those owners would be on the board anyway.

17_ So far as raining leases and royalties are concerned, I suggest that the govefm-nent and the land eouncils.and the mining indt;stry should agree on the ar-,. to be ?Lid in cii cases for eNploration licences and by way of royalties if miniri Lke. piece. The land cotin ::-.ils sho;ild what proportion of

royalties should go to the local community end how the rest should be dis-tributed.

, IS. 1F.ach IL:rid board would be free to ESCIIZZ, with any com p any wanting to e-A •plore or questions of innFloyment of Aborigine , having a :hare in ti e mining venture and the protection oC sacred sites.

19. Unless the i7,overnment decides that it most make the final dee.ision, each land board would be f:ce to refuse permission for mining comoanies to look for niitierals. L. if a 'and ho.. Lsve perm: c

.sion for exploration-, it. u h:Ne

m:Mng if i:iinerai). were found. It cool:: make agreements for the pcotectiO:'i ;:r d sites and al i oait the place wheat any hous or factories shettl,'1 be Ion

Thè two land councils should, as soon as poble, consider what they tilinl.;•ot it to be 4one about:

(a) ftasing of Aboriginal lai:d to non-Aborigines; (h) tmoccupled Crown lands; (c) Trublic reserves other than !:boriginal reserves; (d) pactort.11 ,.:ases; -

(e) fishing rights.

21. So far as pastoral leases are concerned, the councils should think about:

the government buying some cattle stations for•Aborigincs; the government arraning for Aborigines to have their own land on Sor:V.,; ot! cattle stations;

tiglts of Aborigines to visit and Hunt on cattle stations; (iv) the payineut of cattle station lease moneys to Aborigines; and (v) the protection of sacred sites on cattle stations.,


. The land councils should alto discuss the whole question of land rights for Aborigines living in towns.

23. In this summary I have set out only the most urgent and important matters for Aboriginal .communities and land ccuncils to ccrisider. I rely on community councillors, legal advisers, officers of the I.11',partment of Abo:-4,;inal Affelzs and mission staffs to draw attention to other :natters in the heLy of this

rep3-.-1 v..hich may be relevant in particular cases.



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Judged by acce p ted (.H.0.) criteria the hcalth .

of the

Aboriginal people in Australia is at a disastrously low level. The following recommendations are made with a sense of great urgency:

PRINCIPLES: ----------

1.. In any programme of health care the integrity of the Aboriginal people is crucial, the...fore every attempt must be made to foster a sense of solida:ity and dignity so that Aboriginal identity can be preserved and promoted.

2. That health programmes be planned in consultation with the Aboriginal communities they are designed to serve, over the entire 'cultural, linguistic and economic range of such communities throughout Australia, and carried out through the people themselves and their community leaders.

3. The current disastrous health situation is a by-product of the complexity and diversity of an Aboriginal society under the pressure of European society. It is a total community problem and not primarily one of individual health. A

strategy to meet this problemrequires a comprehensive approach .including a drastic improvement in education, housing and economic opportunity as well as health services.


4. That a National Advisory Body be set up, including Aboriginal, government and non-government members representative of this comprehensive approach to advise Federal and State authorities on the formulation, establishment and assessment of programmes

for Aboriginal health advancement.

This National Body, at-its first meeting, should give consideration to the establishment of a separate paid committee of Aboriginal representatives.


That community-based health education and preventive medicine, in close harmony with the provision of medical treatment, be the keystone of such health programmes. There should be a programme of orientation to and education about Aboriginal. life and culture, including language courses where possible, presented essentially by Aborigines, for all personnel

involved with Aborigines through health services.

6. That facilities he provided for the training of community health representatives chosen by their local communities or an appropriate sub-group, and employed by them with an appropriate direct grant. If there is no snprorriate community organisation, special community development programmes should he undertaken on a broad basis as lready ,stated. above.


7. Irnview of the dimension of the drinking problem where appropriate each community of Aboriginal people be given the opportunity to make its own arrangements for the supply and control of alcoholic beverages.

8. A. family planning programme should be inclUded as part of the total health service, and be made available to Aboriginal comManities at their request. Education concerning family planning should be part of any health education programme, and family planning services Should be made available to those who desire them..

9. That the progress of the health programmes in each community, and the overall health policies themselves, be subject to regular assessment and review. To do this properly the collection of proper statistical information on Aboriginal populations must be attempted by trained peotle. In view of

the lank of information we recommend systematic collection of mortality statistics. In this connection we support Australia-wide acceptance of the existing definition of an Aboriginal used by the Council for Aboriginal Affairs.

That the Bureau of Census and Statistics be required to collect, collate and publish annually, figures relating to Aboriginal health and welfare.

The seminar believes that keeping separate statistics for Aborigines is not a form of apartheid, and that medical and social problems can only be tackled when there is adequate . definition of such problems.

10. That the findings of such -assessments, and any change of plans be discussed with the Aboriginal communities concerned.


11. That the provision of more funds for Aboriginal advancement on a broad front and for implementing these specific recommendations be considered a matter of urgency by the Federal government.

Australia has a great resource in its Aboriginal people. If the opportunity is seized now the total community can benefit from their fulfilled potential. If it is not seized the problems of Aboriginal people will become worse, and the ultimate solutions,. if they are still possible, very much more costly.



• The new Government established the Department of Aborig:_nal Affairs, incorporating the former . Office of Aboriginal Affairs and a large part of the Nor .Ceern Territory CoD_=ity Welfare Division. The Council for Aboriginal Affairs was retained to give additional advice to the Minister, Mr. Gordon Bryant.

Shortly after his appointment Mr. Bryant announced plans tc convene a consultative -groul: of Aborigines from all parts of kestralia to advise :71-1 Aboriginal -)roblems. This group, the N ational Aboriginal Consultative Committee held its

inaugral meeting in Canberra from 21-23 February, when it elected a Steering Committee to develop proposals for the National Aboriginal Consultative C ommittee's structure and methods of representation.

The granting of land leases and of mineral exploration licenses and leases within Aboriginal reserves in the Northern Territory has been halted. A Land Rights Commission under jitstice - ood'vard has been established.

The Commission's terms of reference are:-(a) Arrangements for vesting title to lon5 in the Northern Territory of Australia now reserved for the use and benefit of the Aboriginal inhabitants

of that Territory, including rights in minerals and timber, in an appropriate body or bodies, and for granting rights in or in relation to that land to the Aboriginal groups or communities concerned with

that land;

(b) the desirability of establishing suitable procedures for the examination of claims to Aboriginal traditional rights and interests in or in relation to land in areas in the Northern Territory of Australia

outside Aboriginal Reserves or of establishing alternative iTays of meeting effectively the needs for land of Aboriginal groups or communities living outside those Reserves;

(c) the effect of already existing commitments, whether in the nature of Crown leases, Government contracts, mining rights or otherwise, on the attainment of the objects of lecegnising and establishing Aboriginal traditional rights and interests in or in relation to land;

(d) the changes in legislation required to give effect to the recommendations arising from (a), (b) and (c) above; and

(e) such other matters relating • to rights and interests of the Aborigines in or in relation to land as may be refer2ed to the Aboriginal Land Rights Commission by the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs.

r In December, the Government announced that more extensive

uze would be made of Aboriginal languages in teaching children in Aboriginal communities. English will be taught


as a sec-md language, and traditional Aboriginal arts, crafts and skills will be taught also, mainly by Aboriginals themselves. In January 1973, the Aboriginal Secondary Grants Scheme was extended to include all Aboriginal children at oecondary level. (Previously

grants were available only to children in the year they reach the statutory school leaving age, usually 15).

4v# An additional $12.11 million has been allocated for

Aboriginal programs in the current financial year. This includes .c,;7.5 million for programs through the States additional to the $14.5 million previously allocated for 1972/1973 (see table attached), $1.25 million for the.

extension of the Aboriginal Secondary Grants Scheme and $850,000 for a scheme to meet all legal costs of Aborigines before.the courts.

4 4 D Other grantsapproved by the Minister to communities and

associations for properties and other ventures and projects to_April have totalled . almost $750,000.

4 4 4 Mr. Bryant has made a number of tours to consult and make

personal contact with Aboriginal communities. The first (17-22 January) to North Queensland and Alice Springs, the second (31 January to 4 February) to Western Australia, and the third (15-17 February) to Darwin and Goulburn Island. A fourth tour (10-12 March) took the. Minister to Charters Towers, Cloneurry, Mt. Isa, Dajarra and Townsville in

Queensland_ The fifth tour (22-27 April) was to Islands in the Torres Strait. While at Wattle Creek in the Northern Territory, on his first tour, the Minister told the Gurindji that he would be negotiating with Lord Vestey for the surrender

of land from the Wave Hill pastoral lease, additional to the 35 square miles surrendered in 1972. On 18 March, a special purpose lease to allow the Gurindji to establish their homestead at Wattle Creek was announced.

. 04 Legislation to repeal a discriminatory section in the Migration

Act was introduced into Federal Parliament on 28 February.

4 . 4 Commonwealth and State Governments agreed to enter into

discussions for the possible transfer to the National Government of responsibility for policy and planning programs for Australia's Aborigines following a meeting the Australian Aboriginal Affairs Council in Adelaide on April 6. The Council comprises Commonwealth and State

Ministers responsible for Aboriginal affairs._ Both Mr. .and the Prime Minister, -Mr, Whitiam, have stressed that 1967 Referendum conferred on the Federal Government the responsibility for all Aborigines.


Bryant the

Representatives from voluntary agencies providing legal services to Aborigines have agreed on proposals for the extension of the existing legal services throughout Australia, Funds for the new scheme will be provided primarily by the

Federal Government.

All Aboriginal communities on Reserves in the Northern Territory directly affected by a mining development will receive a share of roalties paid by the companies to the ]uvernment, The Government decided on April 10 that 10° /

g o of


royalties received by te Aborigines Benefits Trust Fund from any mining project on a Reserve should be.paid into a local community •fund administered by Aboriginal trustees for the benefit of the particular community or communities


The Government will establish an Aboriginal Land Fund to buy or acquire land outside Reserves for Aboriginal• communities. Cabinet gave the appr,:.val for the drafting of legislation to establish the fund on April 10.

The Federal Government has announced that it will finance imaginative com=unity housing develo7)ment put forward by Aborigines in Sydney. It will grant the Aboriginal Co-operative Housing Society in Redfern $530,000 to cover

the cost uf buying 41 terraced houses and immediate necessary improvements. The development will be managed by the society which will undertake the rehabilitation of the houses and other improvement works.

Mr. Bryant has abolished interest on loans granted to Aborigines from the Capital Fund administered by him.

The Minister plans that Aborigines on Reserves should be paid unemployment benefits and award wages.

04V Mr. Br


ant is working on details for a full-scale attack on infant mortality and other Aboriginal health probleos.


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OUIUNWA= ABORI GI S 0-J2 1H1 and V"-0-P67Y'r" - - 1q72

Restrictions on TTovement 1) for an visit a reserve, he requires a permit, vhich is given for a limited period (Section 19).

2) on contravening this condition the Aborigine incurs a panalty of .. ;,200 (Section 10), and even if not prosecuted, is liable to ejectionfrom his property with the use of as much force as the law decrees necessary, (section 17(2)).

Residence and. Fin gRenlations


In spite of the fact that most

Aborigines are tied to their land by legitimate traditional association, they are all required to apply for residence on a reserve (Section 20, as per form 4 of the Regulations schedule, P. 21).

2. The p ermit, once granted, hoTever, may be revoked by the Director, an the onus of the proof then lies with the Abor i gine to show rhy the leemit should not have been revo;:zed (Section 26).

3, The above regulations are quite clearly related to mining interests. The Act states that no mining or pros-cecting is alla y ed without the a pp roval of the Minister of Trustees (Section 29 (la-b). But in fact, the following sub-section

makes it p ossible for such apTIraval to be obtained. (3ection 29(2)) Eoreover, there is no definition of the or that constitutes a trustee. In ay case, the trustee's refusal to grant a permit can be overriden by the fAnister (section 29(4).)

4. The trustee or Tinister bas the pa r eer to conclude an.

agreement with the applicant company (Section 30(1).), and to participate in the ensuing profis of the mining operation. The only qualification is that ouch sharin,7 in the -profits must be to benefit of the Aborigines whose land has been used

for the purpose. There is,•hc'-ever, no mention as to bow this participation in profit is to be irczy)lemented. •

— 2--

rana p emont and Pronertv

1. Provision is made for an Aborigine to apply to the District officer to have his property managed for him (Section 37 (1).). There are no details t;iven, hoever, as to how the ap plication is to be made. The Regulations schedule includes

no api4ication . form. In other 1-ords, there is no of proving who has or has not made an application for the nanaement of Property..

2. The district officer is empowered to add on the apnlication for the names of the applicant's family and the children that are ...born to him (Regulations, Form 1, p. 20).

3. The district officer managing the property of an Aborigine may appoint any person to act as attorney or agent for that ))erson (Section 38 (1).) Such appointments can be made without consultation of the aunor of the property. It

is, in fact, possible for the property to be sold without the ovner even being aware of what has been done in his name.

ft. The Director has the power to administer the estate of a deceased or missing Aborigine - who had apthed to have his property .managed .(So ction 40). The obvious problem with this 1)rovision as with so many others is that no evidence exists

as to who has or has not loded an ap p lication for the mDnagement of his property. l'foreover, once such an ap-plication has been made, the person concerned, is not rrovided with a regular finrcial statement of the transactions carried out in his name.


• - The Act p rovides for the temintion. of the managefaent of pro p erty (Section 45 and form 2 of Re .7 .

alations), but it is

soLle ,±hat doubtful as to .whether most iloriginet are .aware of. this proviElibn Similar 'dOubt8 exist as tf) ' 11hther most • Aborigines receive . a oe'r:fy of form 1 onc3 the district officer •

has Recep te6 to manage their -property,:

Op CIoSely.related 't


'tha. man !.147 ,enient of tror)ert y Ic the • ,1

Truat Funkl e 2 t ablishej O Lt erd Ly he 67evernment .

It is this 17Ind 1-;ch in t -ne deositery for th L11LP S it:Tthe.1 d. froN Ahorigines undor tbe not anz7. barked on. their bhalf.. •



Under the Act it is possible for Aborigines to earn less than a basic or mininua •wage, once he has ael ittd that he is an aged, infirm or slow worker. (Re lations 69,70). The effect of ouch an admission is not only to reduce his income but also to undermine his


2. The Reulations further -oroviae for tart or the whole of an Aborigine's earnings to be paid to the director or district officer, often without the knoaedge of the Aborigine (1-legulation 67).

3. 1Then the Aborigine is in need of his own money, he has to ao to the district officer for a certain sum to be made available to him. (Re67.12,ttion 5(7,).).





That a Standing Committee on Aboriginal Affairs be appointed to incuire into and report on ratters referred to it by resolution of the House, the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs or by notion of the committee within the following


(a) to consult wit?i Aboriginal and Island people on policies and,progra=es for their advancement;

(b) to examine the present situation of Aboriginal and Island people, recommend policies for . improvements; and

(c) evaluate the effect of policies and programmes on Aboriginal and Island people.


Chairman • .. Mr N.D. Cross NP

Members .. Mr A. Ash2ey-Brown. M.P.

Mr F.W. Collard, M.P., Mr J. FitzPatrick, M.P. The Hon R.J.D. Hunt, M.P. Mr A.W. Jarman, M.P.

The Hon. A.S. Peacock s M.P. Mr R.W. Thorbur n, M.P. The Hon. W.C. Wentworth, M.2.