The University of Newcastle, Australia

History of NSW Aborigines Protection/Welfare Board 1883-1969

Artwork: "Aboriginal camp" oil on board painted by Lawrence M Daws
ANU Art Collection - Purchased by the University, having been commissioned on the suggestion of Sir Daryl Lindsay in 1957, Central Collection
“I am very happy for the image of “Aboriginal Camp” painting to be used in the way you requested in your email to Phillip Bacon.” – Lawrence Daws

An interactive map of New South Wales Aboriginal Missions, Stations and Camps identifies the locations and provides information about Aboriginal reserves, camps, stations, children’s homes, and some unofficial settlements operating under the tenure of the Aborigines Protection Board (which was replaced by the Aboriginal Welfare Board in 1940) during its active years. The map was developed by AIATSIS researcher Lachlan Russell as a contribution to the Australian Research Council Project ‘NSW Aborigines Protection/Welfare Board 1883-1969: A History’. The ARC project was led by Professor John Maynard at the University of Newcastle, and also included researchers Professor Victoria Haskins, Dr Lawrence Bamblett, Dr Lorina Barker, Professor Jakelin Troy, and Dr Ray Kelly.

Landmark research into aborigines protection board

First comprehensive study into the activities of the NSW Aborigines Protection Board begins.

From 1883 until 1969, the lives and affairs of Aboriginal people in NSW were utterly controlled by the Aborigines Protection/Welfare Board.

For the first time, a comprehensive investigation of the Board's activities and subsequent effects on the lives and families of Aboriginal people in NSW will be undertaken including both archival and oral history research.

Lead chief investigator and Director of the Wollotuka Institute Worimi man Professor John Maynard says it's crucial this research is conducted while people who lived under the control of the Board are still alive.

"Those who were young people at the end of the Board regime in the late-1960s are now reaching the end of their lives, bearing in mind that the life expectancy for Aboriginal men and women in NSW born between 1996 and 2000 is still 60 and 65 respectively (AIHW 2006: 234)."

"The impact of the Board's policies of segregation, assimilation, child removal and wage withholding continued for decades and the negative results of those government directives are still visible today. There's been a long desire from Aboriginal people to have written and recorded the ways in which this long history of government control affected their lives."

The research will be conducted over four years with a team of NSW researchers visiting numerous locations across NSW where Aboriginal missions and reserves were established to collect personal oral histories and family/community recollections and records including retained letter, documents and photographs.

They plan to produce a landmark social history of the Aboriginal experience of the NSW Aborigines Protection/Welfare Board.

"Within the last few years they've found a lot of correspondence that dates from the late-1930s. But even where official correspondence is missing, we know that sometimes the other half of it is within personal collections in communities."

"If we can find a way to bring these stories to light it gives credibility to the Aboriginal story – our lived experience – and it will benefit the whole country."

Dr Laurie Bamblett

Dr Laurie Bamblett

Research Fellow, Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies

Dr Laurie Bamblett is a Wiradjuri researcher and author working in community development at Erambie Mission. He was awarded his PhD in 2009 from Charles Sturt University on the topic, 'Continuity and Representations of Wiradjuri Culture', and is currently a research fellow at the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies (AIATSIS). He is an Adjunct research fellow at the National Centre for Indigenous Studies at the Australian National University.

Laurie publishes on a range of topics that reflect his community development work. His research and practice investigates the relationship between identity, representation and engagement in a number of spheres, particularly cultural regeneration and Indigenous knowledge. His work aims to uncover and improve understanding of the link between representations of Indigenous identity and outcomes for Indigenous Australians. Research interests include: decolonising methodologies, cultural regeneration, Indigenous knowledge (with a focus on storytelling), archived cultural knowledge, ethical practice, representations of Indigenous identity.

Dr Lorina Barker

Dr Lorina Barker

Lecturer, School of Humanities
University of New England, Armidale

Dr Lorina Barker is a descendant of the Wangkumara and Muruwari people of western New South Wales, Australia and is currently a PhD candidate researching family/community history at the University of New England in Armidale. She is also team-teacher in Australian History in the School of Humanities at UNE. Lorina specializes in oral history and is particularly interested in the way in which Aboriginal history has been recorded. More importantly, her main interest is in the process of remodelling research methods and techniques so that they readily apply to, are culturally appropriate and accessible to her family and community, who are the core audience for her research.

Professor John Maynard

Indigenous Education and Research

Professor Victoria Haskins

School of Humanities and Social Science

Dr Raymond Kelly

Deputy Head of Institute
Indigenous Education and Research
Professor Jakelin Troy

Professor Jakelin Troy

Director, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Research, Indigenous Strategy and Services
University of Sydney

Professor Jakelin Troy is a Ngarigu woman whose country is the Snowy Mountains of New South Wales, Australia.

Jakelin's academic research is diverse but has a focus on languages and linguistics, anthropology and visual arts. She is particularly interested in Australian languages of New South Wales and 'contact languages'. Her doctoral research was in the development of NSW Pidgin. Since 2001 Jakelin has been developing curriculum for Australian schools with a focus on Australian language programs. Jakelin has lived and studied in Mexico and Japan where she was able to develop her interest in the art, culture and languages of those countries.