June 6 - 12, 2021: Issue 497
Sorry Day In Pittwater 2021
A shared experience was a talk, “Why is it Sorry Day?'', given by Neil Evers who has kindly sent this in along with some photos taken on the day.
Neil's words run below and under this a new report that has been released this week that finds that Stolen Generations survivors aged 50 and over face poorer outcomes across a range of health and social measures when compared to other Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians of the same age.
Observed annually on May 26th, National Sorry Day remembers and acknowledges the mistreatment of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who were forcibly removed from their families and communities, which we now know as ‘The Stolen Generations’.
National Sorry Day is a day to acknowledge the strength of Stolen Generations Survivors and reflect on how we can all play a part in the healing process for our people and nation. While this date carries great significance for the Stolen Generations and other Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, it is also commemorated by Australians right around the country.
The first National Sorry Day was held on 26 May 1998, one year after the Bringing Them Home report was tabled in Parliament. The Bringing Them Home report was a result of a Government Inquiry into the past policies which caused children to be removed from their families and communities.
Why Is It Sorry Day?
By Neil Evers
What if I were to tell you, you will never see your children again? - that they have all been taken away to assimilate them in to a different culture.
A parent should be able to kiss their child good night and see them advance in life.
Imagine if you were not allowed to enjoy the same rights as other Australian citizens. You were not allowed to move freely around your town, city or state without permission from the government and could be imprisoned for 6 months if you did. You were not allowed to own your own home - buy land - run a business - marry the person you loved because you were a different colour.
And all the time the Government with their “Forced Removal Polices” is taking the children away.
Remember – The removal of children had been going on for over 150 years, for 5 - 6 generations, from 1815 on.
Remember - it was not until 1967 that Aboriginal People were mentioned in the Australian Constitution. The first NSW State law protecting Aboriginal cultural heritage in NSW was the National Parks and Wildlife Act 1967. This principally protected pre-1788 remains of the Aboriginal occupation of NSW (such as rock art, scarred trees, shell middens, and burial sites – termed ‘relics’). In 1974, a new NPW Act was made. It protected places of special significance to Aboriginal culture where no ‘relics’, now called Aboriginal ‘objects’ in the Act, may not be present (e.g. sacred sites, story places). Such places could be protected by the Minister declaring them Aboriginal Places.
It is interesting that in 2021 the Aboriginal Heritage Act is still within the National Parks Act.
Child-stealing was made easy by the popular notion that Aboriginal people were not quite human.
In 1881 (NSW) A Protector of Aborigines was appointed, he recommended that reserves be set aside through the State to which Aborigine’s people should be encouraged to move in to reserves.
To be moved off their own land, that had been theirs for thousands of years, then put then on reserves, in camps. They were treated like cattle – They didn’t all speak the same language.
Remember before the British arrived there were over 600 different languages spoken.
By 1883 these reserves controlled the lives of an estimated 9000 Aboriginal people just in NSW.
The lack of funding for these missions and institutions meant that people who were forced to move to these places were constantly hungry, denied basic facilities and medical treatment and as a result were likely to die prematurely.
In 1869 (Vic) the Aborigines Protection Act established an Aborigines Protection Board giving the Governor the power to order the removal of any child from their family to a reformatory or industrial school.
The 1909 (NSW) Aborigines Protection Act gave the Aborigines Protection Board power to assume full control and custody of the child of any Aborigine if a court found the child to be neglected under the Neglected Children and Juvenile Offenders Act 1905 (NSW).
In 1915 (NSW) the Aborigines Protection Amending Act gave power to the Aboriginal Protection Board to separate Indigenous children from their families without the need to establish neglect in court.
In taking control of the child they simply wrote - 'for being Aboriginal'.
As a parent how would you deal with this? knowing you had no control over your life or the life of your children.
I'd like to share some Readings from “BRING THEM HOME”, the 1997 report - National Inquiry into the Separation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children from Their Families so you may understand some of the impact:
From page 43: The policeman who no doubt was doing his duty, patted his handcuffs, which were in a leather case on his belt, and which May (my sister) and I thought was a revolver… ‘I’ll have to use this if you do not let us take these children now’ Thinking that the policeman would shoot Mother, because she was trying to stop him, we screamed, ‘we’ll go with him Mum, we’ll go’… Then the policeman sprang another shock. He said he had to go to the hospital to pick up Geraldine (my baby sister), who was to be taken as well. The horror on my mother’s face and her heartbroken cry!
Page 212: My parents were continually trying to get us back. Eventually they gave up and started drinking. They separated. My father ended up in jail. He died before my mother. On her death bed she called his name and all us kids. She died with a broken heart.
Page 225: That’s another thing we find hard is giving our children love. Because we never had it. So we don’t know how to tell our kids that we love them. All we do is protect them. I can’t even cuddle my kids cause I never got cuddled. The only time was when I was getting raped and that’s not what you’d call a cuddle is it?
Up until 1921 81% of children taken were female. They were being trained for domestic work, as cheap servants. They worked long and exhausting hours. The thought was that it would curb their sexual drive.
Out of 6 girls 1 became runaway – out of 11 girls 1 became pregnant – out of 12 one died.
A 1951 the United Nations report - stressed that any child welfare service should be focussed on assisting families to keep their children with them.
By 1969, all states had repealed the legislation allowing for the removal of Aboriginal children under the policy of 'protection'.
In February 2008 we all heard the Sorry Day National apology – Since then, more than 20,000 children have been taken. Children are still been taken today!
When will it stop? If not now, we will need another apology.
Don't we all love our children, want to hold them, see them smile?
Next time you get upset with your children, STOP! just remember how lucky you are that they are there with you to get you upset.
Just stop! Give them love, show them how to love so they know how to give love.
We can't change the past, the past has happened, it's done.
What we need to do is use that information to inform and protect the present and the future generations.
Why is it Sorry Day??
It’s a day we can come together, a day of Healing to Honour the Stolen Generations.
Native Hibiscus diversifolia – (foliage varies). photo by A J Guesdon.
A few notes from the pages of the past and Bringing them Home; Report of the National Inquiry into the Separation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children from Their Families - April 1997
The Native Institution at Parramatta, the first of many such schools for Aboriginal children, was opened by Governor Macquarie in January 1815. Designed to distance the children from their families and communities, provide them with the `benefit' of a European 'education' and inculcate the diligent subservience thought desirable in servants and the working class, it was quickly boycotted by Indigenous families although it remained open into the mid 1820s:
GOVERNMENT and GENERAL ORDERS.
Government House, Sydney,
Saturday, 10th December 1814
HIS EXCELLENCY the GOVERNOR having long viewed with Sentiments of Commiseration the very wretched state of the aborigines of this Country ; and having revolved in his Mind the most probable and promising Means of ameliorating their Condition, has now taken the Resolution to adopt such Measures as appear to him best calculated to effect that Object, and improve the Energies of this innocent, destitute, and unoffending race.
... With this anxiety to make an Experiment so interesting to the Feelings of Humanity, and to endeavour to ascertain how far the Condition of the Natives may be improved by the Application of such Means as are within his Power, His EXCELLENCY feels that he is making an Acknowledgment to which they are in some Degree entitled, when it is considered that the British Settlement in this Country, though necessarily excluding the Natives from many of the natural Advantages they had previously derived from the animal and other Productions of this Part of the Territory, has never met with any serious or determined Hostility from them, but rather a Disposition to submit peaceably to such Establishments as were necessarily made on the Part of the British Government on the Formation of this Settlement.
... With a View, therefore, to effect the Civilization of the Aborigines of New South Wales, and to render their Habits more domesticated and industrious, His Excellency the Governor, as well from Motives of Humanity as of that Policy which affords a reasonable Hope of producing such an improvement in their Condition as may eventually contribute to render them not only more happy in themselves, but also in some Degree useful to the Community, has determined to institute a School for the Education of the Native Children of both Sexes, and to assign a Portion of land for the Occupancy and Cultivation of adult Natives, under such Rules and Regulations as appear to him likely to answer the desired Objects ; and which are now published for general Information.
... First, That there shall be a School for the Aborigines of New South Wales, Established in the Town of Parramatta of which His EXCELLENCY the GOVERNOR is to be Patron, and Mrs. MACQUARIE, Patroness.
... Secondly, That there shall be a Committee, consisting of several Gentlemen, for conducting and directing the Institution :-- One of the Committee to act as Treasurer and Secretary.
... Thirdly, That the Institution shall be placed under the immediate Management and Care of Mr William Shelly, as Superintendant and Principal Instructor.
... Fourthly, That the main Object of the Institution shall be the Civilization of the Aborigines of both Sexes.
... Fifthly, That the Expences of the Institution shall be defrayed for the first two Years by Government, in such Manner as the GOVERNOR may deem expedient ; but with a View to extend the Benefits of it after that Period, that Subscriptions shall be solicited and received from public Societies and private Individuals.
... Sixthly; That this Institution shall be an Asylum for the Native Children of both Sexes ; but no Child shall be admitted under four, or exceeding seven Years of Age.
... Seventhly, That the Number of Children to be admitted in the first Instance, shall not exceed Six Boys and six Girls; which Numbers shall be afterwards increased, according to Circumstances,
... Eighthly, That the Children of both Sexes shall be instructed in common, in Reading, Writing, and Arithmetic; That the Boys shall also be instructed in Agriculture, Mechanical Arts, and such common Manufactures as may best suit their Ages, and respective Dispositions ; That the Girls shall also be taught Needle-work : For all which Purposes, Instructors, properly qualified, will be employed.
... Ninthly, That the Manager or Superintendant shall have the immediate Care of the Children, the Purchase of Provisions, and of the Materials for employing them, together with the Disposal of the Articles manufactured by the Children.
... Tenthly, That a Portion of Land shall be located for the Use of adult Natives, who shall be invited and encouraged to cultivate it; and that such Assistance shall be rendered them for that Purpose by Government, as may be deemed expedient : That the Management and Superintendance thereof shall be also vested in Mr. Shelly; and under his immediate Inspection, subject to such Directions as he shall receive from the Committee.
... Eleventhly, That the Committee shall meet Quarterly at the Town of Parramatta, on the first Wednesday in each succeeding Quarter, for the Purpose of inspecting and auditing the Quarterly Accounts of the Manager ; and also of examining the Pupils as to their Progress in Civilization, Education, and Morals; and how far the necessary Attention has been paid to their Diet, Health and Cleanliness-That the Committee (which shall at no Time consist of less than five Members) shall have Power to take Cognizance of and correct any existing Abuses, and frame such additional Regulations as may appear necessary for the Improvement and Benefit of the Institution.
... Twelfthly, That the Committee shall make a written Report of the Result of their Observations and Enquiries, at their Quarterly Meeting to His Excellency the GOVERNOR, as Patron of the Institution; and also of such Rules and Regulations as they may diem necessary to frame for the Benefit of the Institution ; which must receive the Sanction of the GOVERNOR, previous to their being carried into Effect.
... Thirteenthly, That the proposed institution shall be opened for the Reception of the prescribed Number of Children, on Wednesday the 18th Day of January next, being the auspicious Anniversary of the Birth of our Most Gracious QUEEN.
... Fourteenthly, That no Child, after having been admitted into the Institution, shall be permitted to leave it, or to be taken away by any Person whatever (whether Parents or other Relatives, until such Time as the Boys shall have attained the Age of sixteen Years, and the Girls Fifteen Years; at which Ages they shall be respectively discharged.
... Fifteenthly, The undermentioned Gentlemen having expressed their Willingness to forward and promote the Objects of the proposed Institution, His EXCELLENCY is pleased to constitute and appoint them (with their own Concurrence) to be the Committee for Conducting and Directing ALL the Affairs connected therewith.
1. John Thomas Campbell, Esq. 2. D'Arcy Wentworth, Esq. 3. William Redfern, Esq. 4. Hannibal M'Arthur, Esq. 5. The Rev. William Cowper, 6. The Rev. Henry Fulton, 7. Mr. Rowland Hassall.
His EXCELLENCY is further pleased to appoint John Thomas Campbell, Esq. to be Secretary and Treasurer of the Institution.
By Command of His Excellency The Governor,
J. T. CAMPBELL, Secretary.
GOVERNMENT PUBLIC NOTICE.
Secretary's Office, Sydney,
10th December 1814.
THE GOVERNOR wishing to hold a public Conference with all those Tribes of the Natives of New South Wales who are in the Habit of resorting to the British Settlements established in this Colony, in order to make a personal Communication to them on the Subject of the Native School or Institution which His Excellency is now about to establish, requests that they will assemble and meet him at the Market Place, in the Town of Parramatta, at the Hour of Eleven o'Clock in the Forenoon of Wednesday, the 28th of the present Month of December, that being the next Day after full Moon.
... All District Constables and other Peace Officers are hereby directed to make this Communication known to the Natives residing in, or resorting to their respective Districts, in due Time to enable them to attend and assemble accordingly.
The Gentlemen of the Committee appointed to Conduct the Affairs of the Native Institution are requested to meet HIS EXCELLENCY the GOVERNOR, on this Occasion, at the Time and Place herein before mentioned.
By Command of His Excellency
J. T. CAMPBELL, Secretary
GOVERNMENT and GENERAL ORDERS.
Government House, Sydney,
Saturday, 10th December, 1814.Classified Advertising (1814, December 10). The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser (NSW : 1803 - 1842), p. 1. Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article629022
This institution also formed part of a Proclamation - printed in English by the colonial paper, which also reflects the mindset and attitude of then:
By His EXCELLENCY LACHLAN MACQUARIE, ESQUIRE, Captain General and Governor in Chief in and over His Majesty's Territory of New South Wales and its Dependencies, &c. &c. &c.
Whereas the ABORIGINES, or Black NATIVES of this Colony, have for the last three Years manifested a strong and sanguinary Spirit of ANIMOSITY and HOSTILITY towards the BRITISH INHABITANTS residing in the Interior and remote Parts of the Territory, and been recently guilty of most atrocious and wanton Barbarities, in indiscriminately murdering Men, Women, and Children, from whom they had received no Offence or Provocation; and also in killing the Cattle, and plundering and destroying the Grain and Property of every Description, belonging to the Settlers and Persons residing on and near the Banks of the rivers Nepean, Grose and Hawkesbury, and South Creek, to the great Terror, Loss, and Distress of the suffering inhabitants.
And whereas, notwithstanding that the Government has heretofore acted with the utmost Lenity and Humanity towards these Natives, in forbearing to punish such wanton Cruelties and Depredations with their merited Severity, thereby hoping to reclaim them from their barbarous Practices, and to conciliate them to the British Government, by affording them Protection, Assistance, and Indulgence, instead of subjecting them to the Retaliation of Injury, which their own wanton Cruelties would have fully justified ; yet they have persevered to the present Day in committing every species of sanguinary Outrage and Depredation on the Lives and Properties of the British Inhabitants, after having been repeatedly, cautioned to beware of the Consequences that would result to themselves by the Continuance of such destructive and barbarous Courses,
And whereas His EXCELLENCY the GOVER-NOR was lately reluctantly compelled to resort to coercive and strong Measures to prevent the Recurrence of such Crimes and Barbarities, and to bring to condign Punishment such of the Perpetrators of them as could be found and apprehended; and with this View sent out a Military Force to drive away these hostile Tribes from the British Settlements in the remote Parts of the Country, and to take as many of them Prisoners as possible; in executing which Service several Natives have been unavoidably killed and wounded, in Consequence of their not having surrendered themselves on being called on so to do; amongst whom, it may be considered fortunate, that some of the most guilty and atrocious of the Natives concerned in the late Murders and Robberies are numbered. And although it is to be apprehended that some few innocent Men, Women, and Children may have fallen in these Conflicts, yet it is earnestly to be hoped that this unavoidable result, and the Severity which has attended it, will eventually strike Terror amongst the surviving Tribes, and deter them from the further Commission of such sanguinary Outrages and Barbarities.
And whereas the more effectually to pre-vent a Recurrence of Murders, Robberies, and Depredations by the Natives, as well as to protect the Lives and Properties of His Majesty's British Subjects residing in the several Settlements of this Territory, HIS EXCELLENCY the GOVERNOR deems it his indispensible Duty to prescribe certain Rules, Orders, and Regulations to be observed by the Natives, and rigidly enforced and carried into Effect by all Magistrates and Peace Officers in the Colony of New South Wales ; and which are as follow : --
First, -- That from and after the Fourth Day of June next ensuing, that being the Birth-Day of His MOST GRACIOUS MAJESTY KING GEORGE the THIRD, no Black Native, or Body of Black Natives shall ever appear at or within one Mile of any Town, Village, or Farm , occupied by, or belonging to any British Subject, armed by, or belonging to any British Subject, armed of any Description, such as Spears, Clubs, or Waddies, on Pain of being deemed and considered in a State of Aggression and Hostility, and treated accordingly.
Second, -- That no Number of Natives, exceeding in the Whole Six Persons, being entirely unarmed, shall ever come to lurk or loiter about any Farm in the Interior, on Pain of being considered Enemies, and treated accordingly.
Third, -- That the Practice hitherto observed amongst the Native Tribes, of assembling in large Bodies or Parties armed, and of fighting and attacking each other on the Plea of inflicting Punishments on Transgressors of their own Customs and Manners, at or near Sydney, and other principal Towns and Settlements in the Colony, shall be henceforth wholly abolished, as a barbarous Custom, repugnant to the British Laws, and strongly militating against the Civilization of the Natives, which is an Object of the highest Importance to effect, if possible. Any armed Body of Natives, therefore, who shall assemble for the foregoing Purposes, either at Sydney or any of the other Settlements of this Colony after the said Fourth Day of June next, shall be considered as Disturbers of the Public Peace, and shall he apprehended and punished in a summary Manner accordingly. The Black Natives are there-fore hereby enjoined and commanded to discontinue this barbarous Custom, not only at and near the British Settlements, but also in their own wild and remote Places of Resort.
Fourth, -- That such of the Natives as may wish to be considered under the Protection of the British Government, and disposed to conduct themselves in a peaceable, inoffensive, and honest Manner, shall be furnished with Passports or Certificates to that Effect, signed by the GO-VERNOR, on their making Application for the same at the Secretary's Office, at Sydney, on the First Monday of every succeeding Month ; which Certificates they will find will protect them from being injured or molested by any Person, so long as they conduct themselves peaceably, inoffensively, and honestly, and do not carry or use offensive Weapons, contrary to the Tenor of this Proclamation.
The GOVERNOR, however, having thus fulfilled an imperious & necessary Public Duty, in prohibit-ing the Black Natives from carrying or using offensive Weapons, at least in as far as relates to their usual Intercourse with the British Inhabitants of these Settlements, considers it equally a Part of his Public Duty, as a Counter-balance for the Restriction of not allowing them to go about the Country armed, to afford the Black Natives such Means as are within his Power to enable them to obtain an honest and comfortable Subsistence by their own Labour and Industry. His EXCEL-LENCY therefore hereby proclaims and makes known to them, that He shall always be willing and ready to grant small Portions of Land in suitable and convenient Parts of the Colony, to such of them as are inclined to become regular Settlers, and such occasional Assistance from Government as may enable them to cultivate their Farms: -- Namely:
First, That they and their Families shall be victualled from the King's Stores for Six Months, from the Time of their going to reside actually on their Farms.
Secondly, -- That they shall be furnished with the necessary Agricultural Tools; and also, with Wheat, Maize, and Potatoes for Seed ; and
Thirdly, -- To each Person of a Family, one Suit-of Slops, and one Colonial Blanket from the King's Stores shall be given. But these Indulgences will not be granted to any Native, unless it shall appear that he is really inclined, and fully resolved to become a Settler, and permanently to reside on such Farm as may be assigned to him for the Purpose of cultivating the same for the Support of himself and his Family.
His EXCELLENCY the GOVERNOR therefore earnestly exhorts, and thus publicly invites the Natives to relinquish their wandering, idle, and predatory Habits of Life, and to become industrious and useful Members of a Community where they will find Protection and Encouragement. To such as do not like to cultivate Farms of their own, but would prefer working as Labourers for those Persons who may be disposed to employ them, there will always be found Masters among the Settlers who will hire them as Servants of this Description. And the GOVERNOR strongly recommends to the Settlers and other Persons, to accept such Services as may be offered by the industrious Natives, desirous of engaging in their Employ. And the GOVERNOR desires it to be understood, that he will be happy to grant Lands to the Natives in such Situations as may be agreeable to themselves, and according to their own particular Choice, provided such Lands are disposable, and belong to the Crown.
And whereas His EXCELLENCY the GOVERNOR, from an anxious Wish to civilize the Ab-origines of this Country, so as to make them useful to themselves and the Community, has established a Seminary or Institution at Parra-matta, for the Purpose of educating the Male and Female Children of those Natives who might be willing to place them in that Seminary : -- HIS EXCELLENCY therefore now earnestly calls upon such Natives as have Children, to embrace so desirable and good an Opportunity of providing for their helpless Offspring, and of having them brought up, clothed, fed, and educated in a Seminary established for such humane and desirable Purposes. And in Furtherance of this Measure, His EXCELLENCY deems it expedient to invite a general Friendly Meeting of all the Natives residing in the Colony, to take Place at the Town of Parramatta, on Saturday the 28th of December next, at Twelve o'Clock at Noon, at the Public Market Place there, for the Purpose of more fully explaining and pointing out to them the Objects of the Institution referred to, as well as for Consulting with them on the best Means of improving their present Condition. On this Occasion, and at this public general Meeting of the Natives, the GOVERNOR will feel happy to reward such of them as have given Proofs of Industry, and an Inclination to be civilized.
And the GOVERNOR, wishing that this General Meeting, or Congress of the friendly Natives should in future he held annually, directs that the 28th Day of December, in every succeeding Year, shall be considered as fixed for this Purpose, excepting when that Day happens to fall on a Sunday ; when the following Day is to be considered as fixed for holding the said Congress.
And finally, His EXCELLENCY the GOVER-NOR hereby orders and directs, that, on Occasions of any Natives coming armed, or in a hostile Manner without Arms, or in unarmed Parties exceeding Six in Number, to any Farm belonging to, or occupied by British Subjects in the Interior, such Natives are first to be desired in a civil Manner to depart from the said Farm, and if they persist in remaining thereon, or attempt to plunder, rob, or commit any kind of Depredation, they are then to be driven away by Force of Arms by the Settlers themselves ; and in Case they are not able to do so, they are to apply to a Magistrate for Aid from the nearest Military Station ; and the Troops stationed there are hereby commanded to render their Assistance when so required. The Troops are also to afford Aid at the Towns of Sydney, Parramatta, and Windsor respectively, when called on by the Magistrates or Police Officers at those Stations.
Given under my Hand, at Government House, Sydney, this 4th Day of May, in the Year of Our Lord 1816.
GOD SAVE THE KING !
"LACHLAN MACQUARIE." By Command of His Excellency,
J. T. CAMPBELL, Secretary.
Proclamation, (1816, May 11). The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser (NSW : 1803 - 1842), p. 1. Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article2176646
THE Quarterly Meeting of the Members of this Institution will be held at the School-house, Parramatta, on Wednesday next, the 11th Instant, at Twelve o'clock, for Passing the Accounts, and other Business. Richard Hill, Secretary. NATIVE INSTITUTION. (1822, September 6). The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser (NSW : 1803 - 1842), p. 1. Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article2181302
One example (there are many of these) from the newspapers of the past 50 years after that 1814 on what was happening in Melbourne and the tone or mindset expressed in these reports:
PROTECTION OF THE ABORIGINES.
IT is to be regretted that some such pains as we are now bestowing on behalf of the aborigines here are not also exercised in Queensland, or other parts of the continent where the natives are still numerous. It is, however, a feature in the history of colonisation that the white man's efforts to reclaim the savage are seldom sincerely commenced until the race of the latter is on the eve of extinction. It is only when the wild man ceases to be a hindrance or annoyance in our occupation of his territory that the voice of humanity begins to have real influence. An interest is felt in rescuing him when there is no longer an interest in getting him out of the way. But though the blacks of Victoria are at present a wretched remnant, enfeebled and degraded by the presence of a civilisation of which they have only adopted the vices, it is a matter of charity and duty that they should not be suffered to perish from absolute want; and if there is still a chance of reclaiming even occasional individuals, especially among the children, it is well that the opportunity should be intelligently afforded ; better late than not at all. The fifth report, just issued, of the Board for the Protection of the Aborigines must be regarded as satisfactory on a melancholy subject. It furnishes sufficient evidence that " the blacks were never so well cared for as now. . . . . All who remember their condition in former years must admit that their state is now one of comparative comfort. Those who are in want can always obtain food and clothing, and the sick can have medical attendance and medical necessaries. The last estimate of the total number of aborigines in the colony was 1908, and the amount expended on them daring the twelvemonth ending 31st July, 1805, was £5925, of which sum the cost of provisions, clothing, and transport, absorbed £4853, the remainder being disbursed in salaries, building expenses, medical, burial expenses, &c. There are eleven reserves of land, large and small, for their use in different directions, of which the principal station, Coranderrk, contains 2300 acres ; that at the Hopkins River, near Warrnambool, 3500 ; and those at Lake Tyers and Lake Wellington, in Gipps Land, 2000 acres each.
" The Central Board formerly were unable to make any provision for black and half-caste children who were abandoned by their parents ; now they are enabled to send them to a good school, where they are taught to work and maintain themselves by their labor." This establishment at Coranderrk was founded in 1863. The report mentions that 104 natives are located there. They include thirty able men and five lads. " There are over seventeen acres fenced in, and the greater part has been put under cultivation." " Altogether over two miles of fencing have been made and put up during this year, and about fifteen acres have been grubbed, but not yet cleared of trees. Much more would have been done, if we had more bullocks and more tools." Rations of flour, tea, sugar, and tobacco, are distributed twice a week, and " all get a little meat occasionally-a little over 100lbs. a week to all." The old men generally hunt every fine day, " but the young men hunt only two days in the week ; they work on the other four." They make rugs of the skins of the opossum, kangaroo, and wallaby, and with the moneys thus obtained they buy boots, hats, and clothes, powder and shot." One of them has thus bought " a good mare and a saddle and bridle." There are seventy-six head of cattle on the station. Fifteen girls and eleven boys live apart from the rest of the blacks in the schoolhouse with the superintendent, and are appropriately employed and instructed. Ten of the very young children reside in the huts with their parents. The medical visitor states that '' the children are in buoyant spirits, robust and active, and well advanced in education for such a class. . . . . Some of the families longest on the station exhibited order and cleanliness which quite surprised me." He reports satisfactorily of their health. There have been only a few cases of sickness during the year, and but two deaths, from ailments of long standing. The cases of drunkenness are stated to be rare, which, of course, must proceed from the opportunity being carefully guarded against. The natives " all agree very well : when any strife arises, it is settled in a kind of court held in the schoolroom " by the superintendent. Such are the prominent features of the report. .
The accounts from the various outer stations throughout the country vary very much in character ; those from the New South Wales border appear to be the most unfavorable, owing to the complete absence in the neighboring colony of any restraint on the sale of liquor to the aborigines. Many of the aborigines willingly take employment in the shearing season, and also as stock-riders and shepherds ; but indolence, want of self-restraint, and the vagrant tendency, are the great obstacles to their improvement. The acuteness of their perceptive faculties enables them to learn quickly to read and write, and adopt for a time the ways of civilisation,' but they easily relapse. Nor can we wonder at this. It is not in a generation that the savage can be transformed. The instincts need a far longer time to undergo a change. It required, for example, not merely generations, but the long lapse of centuries, of ages, to alter the painted and skin-clad hunters of the woods of Britain and Gaul and Germany into the nations which are now the foremost in the world. But modern science enables the civilised man to overrun so rapidly and master so completely the regions he colonises, that there is no time for the gradual process of improvement, the only possible one in reference to the primitive inhabitant. He cannot take to civilisation at a bound, and so he must die off. It is happening to the red Indian of America and to the Maori, barbarians of a far bolder, more intelligent, and more progressive type than the feeble nomad of Australia. So it is not possible for any tribes of the latter to be saved from extinction in the more thickly-settled colonies. In quarters remote from our contact no doubt a zealous and capable teacher might amend in time their condition, and gradually indoctrinate their minds with rudimentary notions of industry and progress; but the vocation and success of a Manoo Capac are rare in the records of modern enthusiasm ; nor are the distant wildernesses of this continent the most attractive, stage for the exorcise of such devotedness. Though, however, the Australian aborigines are, as a race, fated to disappear, as mere savages, and nothing else, occasional individuals may unquestionably be reclaimed and brought round to civilised habits, provided always that too great a burden of mere formalities and dull and useless restraints is not imposed on the-pupil in the course of the reclaiming process. And in this the system which seems to be pursued at Coranderrk is, it must be acknowledged, a very favorable contrast indeed to that adopted some thirty years ago with the unlucky aborigines of Tasmania, after they were transferred en masse to Flinder's Island. In the Parliamentary papers of the time is a report of the civilising system carried out on that occasion, and which was laid on the table of the House of Commons.
" It is sufficient to mention," says the report, " that every habit and amusement peculiar to the aborigines has been discouraged ; the cumbrous and uncongenial forms and incidents of advanced civilisation have been enforced in everyday life ; the native language has been as much as possible suppressed ; even a disposition to indulge in the pleasures of the chase has been recorded as a delinquency. . . . .The blacks have no free agency; as moral agents they are lower, it is to be feared, now than when savages, and they only die the faster for much of this kindness." Though rather late in the day in introducing them, our arrangements in Victoria in 1866 for protection of the aborigines are fortunately more humane and natural.-Melbourne Argus, June 1. PROTECTION OF THE ABORIGINES. (1866, June 12). The Brisbane Courier (Qld. : 1864 - 1933), p. 4. Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article1269064
Coranderrk was an Aboriginal reserve run by the Victorian government between 1863 and 1924, located around 50 kilometres north-east of Melbourne. The residents were mainly of the Woiwurrung, Bunurong and Taungurong peoples, and the first inhabitants chose the site of the reserve.
It ran successfully for many years as an Aboriginal enterprise, selling wheat, hops and crafts on the burgeoning Melbourne market. Coranderrk Station ran successfully for many years as an Aboriginal enterprise, selling wheat, hops and crafts on the burgeoning Melbourne market. Produce from the farm won first prize at the Melbourne International Exhibition in 1881; and other awards in previous years, such as 1872.
By 1874, the Aboriginal Protection Board (APB) was looking for ways to undermine Coranderrk by moving people away due to their successful farming practices. Neighbouring farmers also wanted the mission closed as the land was now deemed "too valuable" for Aboriginal people to occupy.
In the 1870s and 1880s, Coranderrk residents sent deputations to the Victorian colonial government protesting their lack of rights and the threatened closure of the reserve. Louisa Briggs (1836–1925), a Bunurong woman, lived with her family, including nine children, on Corranderrk first in 1871 and then again from 1874. In 1876 she was appointed matron of the dormitory, on a salary, and acted as a leader and spokesperson for the residents, including giving evidence at an inquiry into the management of the reserve in 1876.
The Royal Commission on the Aborigines in 1877, headed by William Foster Stawell was looking at the reserves in Victoria (the others being Lake Condah, Lake Tyers, Framlingham, Ramahyuck, and Ebenezer), followed by a parliamentary inquiry in 1881 on the Aboriginal "problem", led to the Aborigines Protection Act 1886, which required "half-castes under the age of 35" to leave the reserve.
Louisa Briggs, who was widowed in 1878 and was forced off the reserve, returning again in 1882 but again being forced to leave in 1886 because her children were "half-castes" under 35, and from Tasmania.
Activist William Barak and others sent the petition on behalf of the Aboriginal people of Coranderrk to the Victorian Government in 1886, saying:
"Could we get our freedom to go away Shearing and Harvesting and to come home when we wish and also to go for the good of our Health when we need it ... We should be free like the White Population ....there is only few Blacks now rem[a]ining in Victoria, we are all dying away now and we Blacks of Aboriginal Blood, wish to have now freedom for all our life time ... Why does the Board seek in these latter days more stronger authority over us Aborigines than it has yet been?"
The Coranderrk Petition has survived and is on display at the Melbourne Museum in Carlton.
William Barak's grave and headstone at Coranderrk cemetery - photo by and courtesy Peter Campbell
Almost half the land was reclaimed by government in 1893. In 1920, Sir Colin MacKenzie, a leading medical researcher, leased 78 acres from the Aboriginal Protection Board to begin his work in comparative anatomy with Australian fauna. This was the catalyst for the creation of the Healesville Sanctuary, a popular zoo for Australian native animals, which today occupies part of the original Coranderrk reserve. The sanctuary is one of only two places to have successfully bred a platypus, the other being Sydney's Taronga Zoo. It also assists with a breeding population of the endangered helmeted honeyeater.
The reserve was formally closed in 1924, despite protests from Wurundjeri returned servicemen who had fought in World War I, with most residents removed to the Lake Tyers Mission. Five refused to go though -the last known Aboriginal woman to live at Coranderrk was Elizabeth (Lizzie) Davis, who died in 1956, aged 104. She was denied permission to be buried at Coranderrk alongside her husband and siblings. The last Indigenous child to be born at Coranderrk Station was James Wandin in 1933, in the home of his grandmother, Jemima Wandin. After the death of the last remaining Indigenous residents in 1950s, the land was handed over to the Soldier Settlement Scheme.
Today many First Nation families continue to live in the Upper Yarra and Healesville area. In March 1998, part of the Coranderrk Aboriginal Station was returned to the Wurundjeri Tribe Land Compensation and Cultural Heritage Council when the Indigenous Land Corporation purchased 0.81 km2.
Coranderrk was added to the Australian National Heritage List on June 7th 2011.
Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park was one of the first places in Australia to enact regulations for the protection of these sites - from a 1903 gazettal:
Department of Lands,
Sydney, 30th of September, 1903.
BY-LAWS FOR THE MANAGEMENT OF KURING-GAI CHASE.
HIS Excellency the Governor, with the advice of the Executive Council, having approved of the following By-laws for the management of the land at Hawkesbury River (Cowan Creek and Pitt Water),known as Kuring-gai Chase,area about 36,300 acres, dedicated 14th December, 1894, for public recreation, such By-laws are published for public information, in accordance with the provisions of the " Public Parks Act, 1902 "
W. P. CRICK.
Proceedings of Trustees.
1. Regular meetings shall be held on the second Friday of each month, at 4 p m.
2. All meetings shall be called by circular, posted three days before the day of meeting.
8. A quorum for the transaction of business will consist of five members,
4. The Trustees shall annually elect a President and Vice-President, but in their absence from any meeting any other Trustee may preside.
5. The annual meeting shall be held in the month of July of each year, at which meeting the President, Vice-President, and such other officers and committee as may be approved shall be elected.
6. Any vacancy shall be filled up at the next regular meeting after the occurrence of such vacancy.
7. No resolution passed at any meeting shall be rescinded, unless upon notice given and entered upon the notice paper.
8. All motions Involving the expenditure of money (other than ordinary maintenance) shall appear upon the circular calling the meeting.
9. The Secretary shall keep a proper record of the proceedings of each meeting.
10. No person shall, without the permission of the Trustees, cut, remove, or deface any rocks, soil, trees, shrubs, ferns, palms, plants, seats, gates, posts, fences, or notices, or write thereon, or shall affix any bill or stencil mark to any rock, ferae, seat, gate, post, fence, wall, pillar, railing, or to any vessel, building, or other erection within the Chase.
11. No person, unless authorised by the Trustees, shall deface or remove any aboriginal drawings or chippings on rocks, dig up or remove any banks of shells and refuse (presumably aboriginal kitchen midden) in search of skulls, bones, or other aboriginal remains. .... Note.—In lieu of the Regulations published In the Gazette of 11th December, 1900, which are hereby cancelled. BY-LAWS FOR THE MANAGEMENT OF KURING-GAI CHASE. (1903, September 30). Government Gazette of the State of New South Wales (Sydney, NSW : 1901 - 2001), p. 7254. Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article220996577
On the hill opposite the estuary other cultural items found were protected by keeping their exact locations a mystery - including these ones which may be of a man-eating shark or a whale and whale baby (?) or as suggested below, which also relates a belief that our local indigenous peoples are extinct despite descendants gathering last Sunday in Pittwater, while what we today call Palm Beach and Barrenjoey was once the camping ground of Bungaree's son, Bowen:
Rock Carvings at Palm Beach
(By W. M, Sherrie)
In recent years there have been discovered from time to time some rather remarkable examples of the artistic bent and capacity of the coastal tribes of blacks which held possession of the eastern shores of Australia before the advent of white men. As a general thing the art of the blacks seemed to find ex pression almost entirely in the form of drawings of fish, with an occasional variation to wards men, native animals, or birds, such as the kangaroo or the emu. The "Art Gallery" chosen by the blacks in this connection was certainly durable. As a general thing they made their drawings on large flat-faced rocks. Most of the carvings to be found in the vicinity of Sydney have been recorded by Mr. Campbell, engineer and surveyor, but lately a couple of new and altogether excel lent drawings have been discovered at Palm Beach, Pittwater, some few miles beyond Newport. The discoverers in this case were H. A. Wilshire, the Sydney architect, and Mr. Booth, of Palm Beach. Though presumably the work of some aboriginal artist who lived in bygone centuries, the drawings show a clear and well-preserved outline. They have been cut on a very large flat rock in the top of the hill between Sand Point, Pittwater, and Cabbage Tree Boat Harbor, Palm Beach, near Barranjoey.
The drawings represent two kinds of fish— one being apparently a groper and the other a shark. One is 22ft. long, and the other just 6ft. Within the first is the figure of a man of medium height. Whether the tribe to which the artist be longed had any knowledge of the legend of Jonah and the Whale, and intended the inclusion of the human figure within that of a large fish to illustrate that legend, Is a matter which may be left to conjecture. The probability is that the drawing of the man in that position was due to considerations of convenience. The Hawkesbury sandstones, by reason of their comparative softness, offered exceptional facilities to the coastal tribes to display their art.
At all events there are many of these drawings in the Port Jackson and Hawkesbury districts. Mr. Wilshire regards the one hero depicted as an exceptionally good outline, and of better shape than any yet recorded. These drawings might he considered clever, In the matter of skilful portrayal of the creatures depicted, even if they had been done with suitable implements. When it is remembered, however, that the work must have been done with the most primitive of stone implements, it will be realised that infinite patience and labor, as well as some considerable artistic ability, must have been brought to bear. In this case a very fine, clear, and unmistakably expressive outline has been traced of the fish forms in the solid rock. There is nothing to denote the age of these carvings, but it may be surmised to be very great. In all probability they were made many centuries ago. They were discovered by Mr. Wilshire and Mr. Booth in August. Some of the stone excavated in this locality, it may be mentioned, is of very fine quality and beautifully marked, the coloration generally being pink, reddish brown, and grey. The stripes of color stand out as clearly as if hand-painted, and present a very pretty and artistic effect when used for house-walls. The drawings, being the concrete and enduring expression .of the artistic ideals and aspirations of a tribe of human beings now extinct, possess both personal and historic interest, if not. value; and it is the intention of Mr. Wilshire to have the carvings fenced in and protected. The drawing of the carvings here presented was made by Mr. Wilshire. ABORIGINAL ART (1917, September 16). The Sun (Sydney, NSW : 1910 - 1954), p. 9. Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article221408011
ABORIGINAL CARVINGS DISCOVERED AT PALM BEACH
The outline drawings represent two kinds of fish and a man, cut on a flat rock on the hill between Sand Point, Pittwater, and Cabbage Tree, Boat Harbor, Palm Beach, Barrenjoey. The fish measures 22ft, the man 5ft 6in, and the smaller fish 6ft long. They have exceptionally good outlines, and are better shaped than any others yet recovered. The Hawkesbury sandstones, by reason of their comparative softness, offered exceptional facilities to the coastal tribes of our aboriginals to display their art in pictorial drawings, as there are many in the Port Jackson and Hawkesbury districts. It is not known what age these carvings can be, but many hundreds of years must have elapsed since they were made. The drawings were discovered by Architect H. A. Wilshire and Stonemason J. Booth, who were looking for building stone on the Barrenjoey Company's property at Palm Beach. The company has decided to preserve the carvings for all time. ABORIGINAL CARVINGS DISCOVERED AT PALM BEACH. (1918, August 9). The Mirror (Sydney, NSW : 1917 - 1919), p. 5. Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article136729060
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