The Aborigines Act of 1905 Essay
The Aborigines Act of 1905 supposed to be an act that raised provision for the better protection and care of the Aboriginal inhabitants of Western Australia; however in reality the real purpose of the act was not to make the general wellbeing of the Aborigines better, it was to control every movement they made and have power over every aspect of their lives. The following essay discusses several of the clauses in the text that prove its intention most deceiving, and what the act truly accomplished.
Clause 4 declares that there is to be an Aborigines Department under the Minister whose duty is to promote the welfare of the aborigines by providing them with food, clothing, medicine and medical attendance when they would otherwise be destitute, providing for the education of aboriginal children, and generally assisting in the preservation and well-being of the aborigines. This is the only clause in the whole of the Act that sees to the rights of the aborigines.
Clause 8 of the Act states that the Chief Protector is to be the legal guardian of every Aboriginal and half-caste child until they attain the age of sixteen; as well as Clause 60 again highlighting that the governor has custody of the Aborigines and half-caste providing for their care and education. They saw the parents as unfit to raise their own children; they didn’t want them teaching their traditional ways and so, against a parent’s basic right, they took the children and raised them under European light.
According to clause 12 the minister may cause any Aboriginal to be removed and kept within the boundaries of a reserve, or to be removed from one reserve or district to another. The government had the power to just remove any aboriginal from their homes whenever they felt fit and place them in a completely different district. Not only was this most inconvenient for them in ways any being would understand, it was damaging to their cultural identity and the spiritual belonging to a home land.
As far as employment went; clause 17 states that it was against the law to employ any indigenous person without permit from the chief protector, which was difficult to obtain. Even if they were given permit, clause 22 said that they had to be paid with rations rather than money like the whites- in efforts to control everything they owned. If they were unhappy in the job in which they were employed, clause 58 said that if they wanted to leave the jobs, it would be an offence against the act and they were liable to imprisonment.
The question we have to ask ourselves again is ‘how was this in any way beneficial to their wellbeing’? Under Australian law, it is illegal to arrest any person without warrant. On the contrary; clause 55 stated that it was perfectly lawful to arrest any aboriginal or half-caste without warrant who offends any provisions against the Act. Which brings us to Clause 52, which established that any Aboriginal or half-caste was deemed to be proved guilty in the absence of proof to the contrary; In other words, guilty until proven innocent. Who would defend them? How would they prove themselves innocent?
Furthermore, who would believe their word for it? What this basically meant was that any Indigenous could be imprisoned for the smallest of accusations without a second thought. In conclusion, to call the Aborigine’s act of 1905 unjust is an understatement. The many clauses mentioned proved the said purpose of the act as for the better protection and care of the aboriginal inhabitants was misleading and far from the truth. The overall impact of most of the clauses would be deemed an outrage in the white society and certainly would not be accepted let lone tolerated.
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