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Timeline 1900-1966

1900 1902 1903 1905 1909 1911 1913 1915 1916 1917
1918 1919 1920 1921-22 1923 1925 1932 1933 1935 1936
1937 1938 1939 1940 1941 1943 1946 1947 1948 1949
1951 1953 1957   1958 1961 1962 1963 1965 1966

1900

Bomaderry Children’s Home established (south coast NSW)

As the children grew older they were sent to training homes, such as Cootamundra Girls Home or Kinchela Boys Home, where they were apprenticed to work as servants for non-Aboriginal families.

References: HREOC (1997) Section 10

‘John’ was taken from his family as a baby to Bomaderry in the 1940s and transferred to Kinchela when he was 10:

‘It was drummed into our heads that we were non-Aboriginal. I was definitely not told I was Aboriginal. …We hardly saw any visitors… None of the other kids had visits from their parents. No visits from family. The worst part is, we didn’t know we had a family.’

HREOC (1997) Section 10, p 11.

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Exclusion from Collarenabri Public School (northern NSW)

Aboriginal students were excluded from Collarenabri Public after non-Aboriginal parents complained about their attendance.

Aboriginal parents protested unsuccessfully for their readmission.

Reference: Harris (1976) p 4.

back to timeline.

1902

1902 Exclusion on demand policy for NSW public schools

Aboriginal children were refused entry to Euroka School (north coast NSW) by the teacher, who was supported by the Inspector and NSW Minister for Education.

A Christian organisation, the Aborigines Mission of NSW, protested to the Minister of Education.

The NSW Minister for Education, John Perry, instructed NSW schools to remove Aboriginal children from school if non-Aboriginal parents complained.

Non-Aboriginal parents frequently claimed diseases were rampant among Aboriginal students, and that they were unhygienic. These claims were rarely unsubstantiated.

Some non-Aboriginal parents claimed in their appeals to the Education Department that their children’s moral welfare was at stake.

Reference: Fletcher (1989b) p 88.

According to Ella Simon, author and community worker from Purfleet (north coast NSW), her grandfather’s school was the first Aboriginal school built in the Purfleet area. Aboriginal children couldn’t go to any local school if white parents had any objection. Through the Aboriginal people’s hard work, and with the mission’s help, the Purfleet school was established.

Simon (1978) p 61.

Breeza Public School exclusions (northern NSW)

Aboriginal children were excluded from Breeza Public School, with the teachers support. Parents of the excluded Aboriginal children petitioned the Minister for Education wanting to know why their children were excluded.

The Minister for Education refused them entry; so Aboriginal parents had little choice but to move to other areas to get access to education for their children.

References: Fletcher (1989b) p 90; Fletcher (1989a) pp 76–78.

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1903

Nulla Creek Aboriginal school established (north coast NSW)

A provisional school for Aboriginal children was established at Nulla Creek Reserve after proposed mergers of schools failed.

The APB built the school and the Department of Education supplied a teacher.

Teachers at Aboriginal schools were not required to be qualified.

Reference: SRNSW: NRS 3829 [5/17188.3], f.1

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1905

Burnt Bridge Aboriginal School established (north coast NSW)

Burnt Bridge Aboriginal School was established after Aboriginal children were continually refused entry to Euroka Public School.

Aboriginal parents campaigned for this school after their children were rejected from Euroka.

Reference: Goodall (1996) p 110.

Northern NSW school exclusions

Aboriginal children were excluded from Collarenebri, Walgett and Mogil Mogil schools in north and north-western NSW.

Reference: Fletcher (1989a) p 80.

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1909

Aboriginal Protection Act passed

This Act increased the influence of the APB over many areas of Aboriginal people’s lives.

The Act stated that if Aboriginal children were found to be ‘neglected’ the Board could take custody of the children.

This enabled the APB to take away children at the age of 14 from their families and ‘apprentice’ them.

References: Duncan (1997) p 195; HREOC (1997) Section 3, p 2.

Section 7c of the Aborigines Protection Act stated that the intention of the Act was ‘to provide for the custody, maintenance and education of the children of Aborigines.’

HREOC, (1997) Section 3, p 2.

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1911

Cootamundra Training School established (south-western NSW)

Aboriginal girls were removed from their families, and trained as domestic servants, then sent to work for non-Aboriginal families, sometimes for no payment at all.

These training organisations and removal policies had devastating effects on Aboriginal people’s cultural connections, family links and relationships to country, causing enormous and ongoing suffering.

Goodall has argued that the APB targeted girls of puberty age for removal, to stop reproduction and cultural transmission. They were concerned that the number of people identifying as Aboriginal was increasing.

20% of the Bringing Them Home Inquiry witnesses who spent time in such institutions reported physical assault having occurred.

References: Goodall (1990,1995); Read (1982); HREOC (1997) Section 3, p 6.

Margaret Tucker, who later became a respected activist and author, experienced violence at the Cootamundra Home and during domestic service.

‘We got used to accepting our fate, although May Myrtle and I would often get homesick. We would go to a quiet corner of the building to talk about home and our family. We would wonder when we would see them again…’

Tucker (1984) p 101.

Moonacullah Mission School established (south-western NSW)

Moonacullah missionaries began teaching at the Mission School.

Margaret Tucker recalled the missionary teachers’ encouragement of students and learning about music and sport.

Ongoing respect for education by elders is also evident in her account of Nkuppa Taylor teaching the children about spirituality.

Reference: Tucker (1984)

Tucker recalled Nkuppa Taylor speaking with the Sunday school teacher at Moonacullah:

‘…old Nkuppa said half in the language and half in English, ‘Do you know we had the Good Spirit a long time before you white people came here? The Good Spirit is everywhere. We know Him long before you white people come, everywhere in the bush He live, Him Good Spirit.’

Tucker (1984) p 58.

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1913

Aboriginal teacher employed at Moonacullah Aboriginal School (south-western NSW)

John Lewis, an Aboriginal teacher, was employed at Moonacullah Aboriginal School.

His elitist approach, evident in his reports to the Education Inspector, alienated some of his students.

References: Fletcher (1989b) pp 112–113; Tucker (1984) pp 60–61.

Margaret Tucker recalled:

‘After the missionary ladies left Moonahcullah we had a crippled part-Aboriginal teacher. He was a proud man, and would not mix with the other Aboriginal people on the Settlement…Our people didn’t like him either… His wife and children were friendly though, and one of the step-daughters about my age would sneak down at times to hear my mother telling us stories at night… Later, at Moonahcullah Mrs Hill was our teacher, and it was while she was there that we were taken away to the Domestic Training School at Cootamundra.’

Tucker (1984) pp 60–61.

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1915

Aboriginal parents take legal action against their children’s exclusion from Bellata Public (northern NSW)

The parents of an Aboriginal student excluded from a school at Bellata (near Moree) took legal action against the school.

The Quinns’ case was unsuccessful despite the solicitor’s clear presentation of a strong case for Emily Quinn’s re-entry based on her health, cleanliness and family support.

The Education Board successfully defended its policy of exclusion if non-Aboriginal parents complained about Aboriginal students attending the school.

Reference: Fletcher (1989b) pp 116–119.

J.Quinn (father of Emily who was excluded though she had attended the school for 4 years) wrote:

‘For the past year my child has been deprived of education and the only reason is that she is the offspring of coloured parents. I am a taxpayer and an elector, so therefore I am assisting to carry the burden of education for the children of NSW… I am perfectly justified in asking that the same facilities of education will be extended to my child…’

Letter to the Minister of Education, 6 March 1916, Bellata School files [5/14854] SRNSW cited in Fletcher (1989b) pp 116–117.

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1915

The APB’s ability to take Aboriginal children away increased

The Aborigines Protection Amendment Act enabled the APB to take children without having to prove in court that they were neglected.

The APB sometimes used schools as points from which to organise the removal of fair-skinned children to homes.

References: Fletcher (1989b) p 100; Tucker (1984) pp 90–94; NPWS (2004) p 12.

J.Quinn (father of Emily who was excluded though she had attended the school for 4 years) wrote:

Grace Coombs (nee Hickey), a Yuin woman from Wallaga Lake (south coast NSW) who had two older siblings taken away, recalled:

‘We knew about the Welfare when we were living out there at Wooragee. All the kids that went to school at Terara, they all knew about the Welfare. The Welfare fellas would come around looking. They’d pick kids up when they were walking to school.’

NPWS (2004) p 12.

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1916

Curriculum for Aboriginal schools developed

An Aboriginal schools curriculum was devised by NSW Education Inspectors.

This curriculum emphasised manual work and presumed that the students were not capable of coping with intellectually intensive work.

The syllabus explicitly stated that teachers were to direct students’ schooling towards boys being station labourers and girls domestic servants.

It was set at a lower standard than public school curricula, entrenching educational disadvantage for Aboriginal school pupils.

References: Fletcher (1989b), pp 121–123; Duncan (1997), p 196.

Yuin author Eileen Morgan remembered her school days at Wallaga Lake (South Coast):

‘We never learned too much because Mr Sampey was always being called out…The older girls or boys would take the tiny ones down the front… and read a story to them or ask them to spell. That was done mostly every day because he was always away. Later I discovered that managers like Mr Sampey were not trained teachers.’

Morgan (1994) p 54.

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1917

Walgett school segregation (northern NSW)

Walgett school became segregated again.

Children excluded from the Walgett school were removed to training homes.

Some of these children never saw their families again.

The APB told parents that their children were being relocated to Angeldool forcing the parents to move.

Several families were sent to Angledool, but walked back to Walgett.

Reference: Goodall (1996) pp 132–133.

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1918

Singleton Aboriginal Boys Home established (central coast NSW)

Boys were removed from their families and sent to this home.

The Home included a primary school and boys were sent to Kinchela once it was established.

Reference: APB (1921) p 2.

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1919

Third petition against Aboriginal children’s attendance at Gulargambone Public School (central west NSW)

Another petition against Aboriginal children attending Gulargambone Public School was organised by several non-Aboriginal families.

Petitions were sent to the Department of Education in 1891 and again in 1899.

The petitioners objected to having Aboriginal children in the same classroom as the white children.

They expressed concerns about the Aboriginal children being ‘on a level footing’ with their children, yet argued they had a different capacity to learn compared to ‘white’ children.

References: (SRNSW, Department of Education, NRS 3829, School Files 1876–1979; [5/16180.1] Gulargambone 1919–1939. Also cited in Fletcher (1989b) pp 122–123.

*See the Gulargambone case study for more detail

The 1919 petition expressed some non-Aboriginal parents’ fears of intermarriage: ‘…the cases of marriage or living together between blacks and whites is very undesirable yet a common school fosters this.’

References: SRNSW, NRS 3829, Department of Education School Files 1876–1979, [5/16180.1] Gulargambone 1919–1939, cited in Fletcher (1989b) pp 122–123.

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1920

Parents not informed of decisions affecting their children’s schooling at Nulla Creek Aboriginal School

The times at which classes were held at Nulla Creek Aboriginal School were altered, but the parents were not consulted or informed.

Later the Inspector also refused to fund the building of urinals for the boys on the grounds that it was an Aboriginal School, so they were not required.

Reference: SRNSW: NRS 3829 [5/17187.4] f.130

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1921–22

Huskisson public school exclusion and protests (south coast NSW)

Aboriginal students were excluded from Huskisson Public School after complaints from the Huskisson Progress Association, and the local Parents & Citizens committee.

Mr Campbell protested to the NSW Minister for Education regarding his children not being allowed to attend the school, which he had attended.

He noted that the local police had tried to make him move away with his children to the Wreck Bay reserve and send his children to the Jervis Bay Naval College.

He inferred this was because he spoke out against the racism Aboriginal people were experiencing.

Fletcher has argued that local white people feared economic competition from Aboriginal fishing families who lived in or moved to Huskisson to attend the school.

Reference: Fletcher (1989b) pp 123–124.

T. Campbell, the father of the excluded student wrote:

‘As I have been reared here… it comes very hard to think that our children are turned away from school. My father who cleared the timber… so as the school could be erected in 1883… had six of us attend the same school… he was paying weekly for our education. As we are some of the oldest inhabitants of Huskisson I do not see why our children should be turned away…’

T Campbell, Letter to the NSW Minister for Education, 8 Mar 1822, Huskisson School files 5/16348 SRNSW cited in Fletcher (1989b) pp 123–124.

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1923

Kinchela Boys Home takes students

The first students admitted to Kinchela ‘training institution’ in Kempsey (North coast NSW).

351 children – 10 girls and 341 boys – went through Kinchela before it closed in December 1962.

The children were cut off from their families and communities. The boys were taught to be farm workers and labourers.

Nearly 1 in 10 boys were abused in institutions like Kinchela according to HREOC.

Some boys attended local high schools.

References: Elphick, B & D (1997) introduction; Ramsland (2004); Lalor and Beckett (2000); HREOC, (1997) Section 10, p 8.

John, who was moved from Bomaderry to Kinchela in the 1950s, recalled:

‘Kinchela was a place where they thought you were animals … We had a manager who was sent to prison because he was doing it to a lot of the boys, sexual abuse. Nothing was done. We were prisoners from when we were born … The girls who went to Cootamundra and the boys who went to Kinchela – we were all prisoners.’

HREOC (1997) Section 10, pp 11–12.

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1925

Australian Aboriginal Progressive Association (AAPA) forms

The AAPA formed and was led by Fred Maynard.

The AAPA fought against the removal of children, the closure of reserve lands, and argued for citizen rights for Aboriginal people.

Reference: Attwood and Markus (1999) pp 58–59.

Segregation at Batemans Bay school and protest (south coast NSW)

Batemans Bay Public School excluded Aboriginal students in response to a petition from the local P&C group.

The APB and the school principal opposed the exclusion, and local Aboriginal people wrote a protest letter to the King of England.

Eventually the letter was sent on to the Governor-General, the Premier of NSW and then to the NSW Department of Education.

The local inspector argued that Aboriginal students must be readmitted to Batemans Bay Public School.

References: Goodall (1996) pp 147–148; Fletcher (1989b) pp 125–126.

A letter sent by an Aboriginal parent to the King of England appealed for public school access:

‘The Quadroon and half-caste people of Batemans Bay have been writing to different places namely the Minister for Education, the Child Welfare Department, the Aborigines Protection Board, and also our members of parliament but we cannot get fair play. Even the reserve where the coloured race were bred and born, the white race are trying to have them turned off on to another piece of land. It is unfair and I hope you will see that fair play be given; let them stay on the land that was granted to them, also compel the children to be sent to the Public School at Bateman’s Bay...’

Ms J Duren to King George V, 14 June 1926, cited in Fletcher (1989b) p 125.

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1932

Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal education at Yantabulla (north-western NSW)

Yantabulla Provisional School was established.

According to Evelyn Crawford who attended the school, students taught the teacher Burunji words.

She explained that this language was spoken by children of the area until they were teenagers and had to speak the language of their own tribe/group.

The teacher adapted her teaching methods and some lessons were taught in Burunji and English.

As a child, Crawford received a bush and school education at the station.

References: Brady, (1996) appendix; Crawford (1993) p 26.

Evelyn Crawford (Baarkinji), who later became a Teacher’s Aide, Home-School Co-ordinator, and a TAFE Regional Co-ordinator explained her childhood education:

‘The white man’s school was only a part of our life, and not the most important part. We had the white feller school all day, then in the afternoon we’d have to learn all our Aboriginal training. Our teachers were our grandparents and our oldest aunty … But the most special teachers were uncles – our Mum’s brothers.’

Crawford (1993) p 26.

‘If you wanted your kids to have the full Aboriginal training, you took them … Just like the white man doesn’t have to send his kids to University or College, it was like that for us. I could say that our lessons on the sandhills at Yantabulla were our primary schooling, and so our time at Mootawingee was our Aboriginal ‘College.’

Crawford (1993) p 101.

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1933

Menindee Mission School commenced (north-western NSW)

The APB relocated Aboriginal people from Wilcannia and Poonindee to Menindee.

Menindee station and the station school were located near a burial ground which distressed the Aboriginal residents.

Tuberculosis outbreaks occurred here also.

References: Elphick (1996) (This book contains a sketch map of the station in 1949 – based on oral history research and completed by local primary students); Goodall (1996) pp 201–202.

Moree Aboriginal school established (northern NSW)

An Aboriginal reserve school was set up at Moree ‘top camp’.

The Aboriginal school was poorly resourced compared to Moree Public, so Aboriginal parents demanded access to the public school for their children.

Child Welfare Officers threatened Aboriginal parents with the prospect of their children being taken away if they refused to send their children to the APB school on the reserve.

Reference: Goodall (1996) p 176.

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1935

Exclusions in Dubbo (northern NSW)

Aboriginal children were refused entry to Brocklehurst Public School, Dubbo.

References: Goodall (1996) p 183; Dubbo Dispatch 1 July, 1935, p 1

1935

Complaints about Kinchela

Complaints of cruelty and abuse were recorded against the manager at Kinchela

He was accused of being frequently drunk and cruel to boys by withdrawing food, beating them and loaning boys to local farmers.

The Manager was reprimanded but remained employed and was then moved to Cummerajunga Mission (Southern NSW)

References: Goodall (1996) pp 213–214, p 220; HREOC (1997), Section 3, p 5, p 8.

School segregation on the north coast

Baryulgil (north coast NSW) Public School became segregated.

Reference: Goodall (1996) p 220.

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1936

School closures on the north coast

Tuncester (north coast NSW) school was closed and moved to Woodenbong, 52km away as part of APB cost reduction and centralisation policies.

The Manager of Runneymede station told Aboriginal people that their children would be taken away if they didn’t relocate.

35 children were left without any schooling as a result of the school closure.

References: Goodall (1996) p 220; Pastor Frank Roberts cited in Fletcher (1989b) pp 176–177.

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1937

NSW Legislative Assembly Select Committee regarding the APB hears Aboriginal criticisms of the APB

Aboriginal activist William Ferguson of the Aborigines Progressive Association (APA) outlined community problems with APB management, including education to the Select Committee.

Ferguson had recently visited Gulargambone and commented to the press on the conditions that reserve residents were enduring.

The APA had lobbied for an inquiry in response to increasing APB powers and child removals.

The APA argued for equal rights for Aboriginal people.

References: Fletcher (1989b) pp 178–179; Attwood & Markus (1999) pp 58–60; Dubbo Dispatch 17 Sept, 1937, p 6.

Aboriginal activist Bill Ferguson responded to the NSW Select Committee questions:

‘I say that a full-blood can be educated just as well as a half-caste or non-Aboriginal… I say they must have qualified teachers… At present they are not qualified…’

(Legislative Assembly, Select Committee on the Administration of the Aboriginal Protection Board, appointed during the session of 1937¬–8, Proceedings of the Committee, Minutes of Evidence and exhibits, cited in Fletcher (1989b) p 53.

Public Schools were encouraged to start readmitting Aboriginal children

Aboriginal students begin to attend Peak Hill Public (northern NSW) as part of assimilation policies adopted by the NSW government.

Reference: McKeown & Keed (1991) p 135.

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1938

Tabulam Reserve Aboriginal School established (north coast NSW)

At the Tabulam Reserve School (Turtle Point) the teacher used frequent punishments, and taught basic maths and reading and writing.

The nearest high school was at Casino, so few students from the reserve attended it.

Some of the students such as Charles Moran were being taught by elders Uncle Robin Walker outside of school hours – receiving a dual education.

Reference: Moran (2004), Chapter 2, pp 22–34.

Charles Moran (Bundjalung), who attended Tranby College and is on numerous community advisory groups, comments on his Bundjalung education:

‘I was more interested in my bush education and hunting to provide for myself. My Aboriginal education taught me self-reliance and respect… I also learned to respect the bush but not be afraid of it or anything in it. I learned respect for all things in the wild.’

Moran (2004) p 30.

Aboriginal protest against the invasion and its aftermath

The Day of Mourning Conference and protest was organised by the APA in Sydney as a symbolic counterpoint to celebratory Australia Day ceremonies.

People attended from all over NSW including Margaret Tucker, Doug Nicholls, William Cooper and Frank Roberts.

The powerful statement ‘Aborigines Claim Citizen Rights’ was made at the Day of Mourning and was mentioned in major daily newspapers.

The statement drew attention to invasion and its legacies, attacked the ‘Protection’ Act and Board, as well as unions for their lack of assistance to Aboriginal workers.

It also mentioned that Aboriginal men who had served in the AIF were denied citizen rights on their return.

A deputation met with Prime Minister Lyons a week later with a plan for recognising Aboriginal people’s citizen rights.

Reference: Bandler (1983) pp 54–59.

Jack Patten, Bill Ferguson and other activists raised education as an issue in their statement:

‘No-one could deny that there is scope for the white people of Australia to extend sympathetic, or real protection and education to the uncivilized blacks, who are willing and eager to learn when given a chance. But what can be said for a system which regards these people as incurably ‘backward’ and does everything in its power to keep them backward?’

‘Aborigines Claim Citizen Rights’ (1938) cited in Bandler (1983) p 55.

1938–9

Cummeragunja strike (southern NSW)

The Cummeragunja Walk-off was led by activist William Cooper in response to the managers treatment of residents, which was contributing to starvation and illness.

They camped at Barmah on the Victorian side of the Murray River and refused to return until the manager was dismissed.

They also called for the abolition of the Protection Board and argued for the granting of full citizen rights to Aboriginal people.

Reference: Goodall (1996) Chapter 18, pp 247–258.

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1939

Complaints against Nulla Creek Reserve Managers teaching of Aboriginal students (north coast NSW)

Parents of students attending Nulla Creek Aboriginal School (which started in 1903) wrote to the Department of Education, with complaints about the Reserve manager’s treatment of residents and his teaching.

They also sent a petition to their local member, Mr Vincent, about the manager’s treatment of them.

The APB dismissed him.

Reference: SRNSW: NRS 3829[5/17187.4] f.305, 307, 401–402.

Mrs Scott wrote a letter of complaint about the teaching her children were receiving at Nulla Creek Aboriginal School:

‘My children do not get their full teaching here on this mission station, I have 5 children going to the school. The manager here Mr Dalley comes over to the mission station about 12 o’clock every day instead of teaching the children he’s hunting people out of their endowment homes dogging people away from one home to another. Mr Dalley locks the children in school all day…’ I have children turning 14 years of age and can’t read or write yet. We want our children to have a little education.’ …’

(SRNSW: NRS 3829 [5/17187.4] f.305)

The NSW Public Service Board review recommended against education segregation

The NSW Public Service Board inquiry recommended assimilation rather than segregation policies in education.

The inquiry noted there were major problems with education for Aboriginal people.

This prompted changes in NSW Education Department Policy and contributed to the reformation of the APB.

References: Berg (2003) p 7; Harris (1976) p 4.

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1940

The APB becomes Aborigines Welfare Board

The abolition of the APB marked a policy shift from ‘protection’ to assimilation and an increased focus on Aboriginal welfare.

Despite the change in name and focus, the Aborigines Welfare Board still intervened in Aboriginal people’s lives.

Reference: DAA (2001)

The NSW Dept of Education responsible for Aboriginal education responsibilities

The Aborigines Protection Act Amendment meant responsibility for Aboriginal education was formally transferred to the NSW Department of Education.

Reference: Harris (1976) p 4.

Aboriginal teachers employed

The NSW Department of Education started to employ Aboriginal teachers after the APB was abolished.

Reference: Fletcher (1989b), p 194.

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1941

Exclusion of Aboriginal students from Collarenabri Public School reviewed (northern NSW)

The NSW Department of Education Chief Inspector, Mr Harkness, ordered the enrolment of students previously excluded from Collarenabri Public School.

1941

Exclusion of Aboriginal students from Collarenabri Public School reviewed (northern NSW)

The NSW Department of Education Chief Inspector, Mr Harkness, ordered the enrolment of students previously excluded from Collarenabri Public School.

Non-Aboriginal parents protested and withdrew their children when Aboriginal children arrived.

Aboriginal families such as the Fernandos and Flicks had lobbied the Education Department to readmit their children at the Public School.

A separate class in an annex building next door was the outcome, with fewer resources provided for the Aboriginal students.

References: Harris (1976) pp 4–6; Flick & Goodall (2004) pp 41–45.

Rosie Fernando, Kamilaroi activist and education campaigner:

‘So we were petitioning the public school for a while at the same time as we were under the bough shed. Even going down to Armidale [Education Department Head Office]… we went down for two or three meetings in 1939 and 1940 to see if we could get into the school – that’s what they were fighting for… So we’d had to petition even to get that Annex, me and this old minister and the policeman.’

Fernando cited in Flick & Goodall (2004) p 41.

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1943

North Lismore School exclusion (north coast NSW)

Aboriginal students were excluded from North Lismore Public after political protests by non-Aboriginal communities who opposed their attendance.

Aboriginal students were sent to school at Tuncester, but many received little education at all owing to transport and logistical difficulties getting to the school.

References: Goodall (1996) pp 143–144; Harris (1976) pp 5–6.

Aborigines Protection Act amendment regarding exemptions

Children of parents who obtained exemption certificates (often referred to by Aboriginal people as a ‘Dog Licence’) were able to attend public schools.

Exemption certificates required that holders disassociated themselves from Aboriginal communities and assimilated to access housing and education opportunities that non-Aboriginal people had.

References: Fletcher (1989b) p 134, p198; Goodall (1996) p 267; Harris (1976) p 6.

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1946

Medical certificates required to enrol Aboriginal students in public schools

Aboriginal children could be admitted to public schools if they had a medical certificate to prove their health status and did not live on a reserve.

This condition of entry to school was not demanded of non-Aboriginal students.

Reference: Harris (1976) p 6.

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1947

Aboriginal students finally re-enter Collarenabri Public School (northern NSW)

Gradually Aboriginal students entered Collarenabri Public School in mixed classes.

Reference: Flick & Goodall (2004) pp 41–45

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1948

First trained teacher employed at Nulla Creek Aboriginal School (north coast NSW)

A full-time trained teacher, RC Dennis was employed at Nulla Creek Aboriginal School.

Parents had complained in 1946 to the Department of Education about the education their children were receiving from manager-teachers who were unqualified.

References: APB (1948) p3; SRNSW: NRS 3829 [14/7760])

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1949

Aboriginal students re-enter the public school system in some areas

The NSW Department of Education no longer required medical certificates for entry to schools.

But children could still be prevented from attending if non-Aboriginal parents complained.

Many young students experienced hostility and racism from non-Aboriginal students.

References: Fletcher (1989b) p 198; Harris (1976) p 6.

Elsie Heiss, (Wiradjuri) from Cowra (southern NSW) discussed the prejudice she encountered at her ‘integrated’ school:

‘… I went to an Aboriginal mission school. When I went to the non-Aboriginal school it was a nightmare… because we weren’t wanted in the school. They didn’t lift the colour bar until 1948… and I remember sitting down with my father, crying and saying, I hate school because they hate us. They don’t want us there, the teachers don’t like us. They put us down the back of the rooms. The kids didn’t want to touch us because they thought they’re going to catch a germ of some kind … it was really hard.’

Heiss (2003) pp 215–216

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1951

First Graduate Aboriginal School teachers begin teaching

In the early 1950s the first Graduate Aboriginal School teachers begin teaching.

Evelyn Robinson began teaching at Cabbage Tree Island School on the Clareance River in North NSW. She retired in 2007 after teaching teaching for half a century. (Sydney Morning Herald 13 July 2007)

James Stirling began teaching at Burnt Bridge Aboriginal School near Kemsey. He later became the principal of Cresent High Public School where he remained for 17 years. (Kempsey Public School website)

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1953

Aboriginal activists take education issues in Gulargambone (central west NSW) to the Department of Education

Aboriginal activist Pearl Gibbs and the Council for Aboriginal Rights took complaints about the substandard education Aboriginal students were receiving at Gulargambone to the Minister of Education in Sydney.

They proposed integrated education as a solution.

Reference: AWB c6178 box 2801, cited in Fletcher 1989a, p 231.

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1957

Federal Council for the Advancement of Aborigines & Torres Strait Islanders (FCAATSI) formation

Federal Council for the Advancement of Aborigines & Torres Strait Islanders formed.

This organisation, which initially had non-Aboriginal and Aboriginal membership, acted as a national organiser of local and state campaigns for rights for Aboriginal people.

References: Bandler (1983); O’Brien (1987) p 104.

Tranby College established (Sydney)

The Co-operative for Aborigines Ltd which set up Tranby Aboriginal College was formed.

An Anglican Minister, Rev. Alf Clint left a bequest to fund co-operative education and training for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Tranby aimed to equip people to manage small businesses and develop self-employment skills training, resulting in economic and social independence for Aboriginal and TSI people.

Several unions gave crucial financial support to the organisation.

Initially, many staff volunteered their time and skills, but now teachers are employed and paid.

The college became independent in 1962 and received government funds for expansion after 1982.

Tranby continues to provide teaching and learning facilities to adult Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, and is a place of community meeting and organisation.

References: Newman (1999); Tranby Aboriginal College (no date); Plater (ed) (1994); Tranby Co-op for Aborigines (1986)

Kevin Cook, activist, former student and CEO of Tranby:

‘Tranby is run by Aboriginal people so it caters for the needs of Aboriginal people… The students who come here come because they want to be here not because they have to. In other institutions there might only be one or two in a class. Here there are 25 Aboriginal people together. They all come from different backgrounds, but they form a community in itself – a very tight community.’

Kevin Cook, cited in Plater etal (1994) p 189.

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1958

Gulargambone Aboriginal School closes (central west NSW)

Gulargambone Aboriginal School closed and students re-entered the public school.

This was seen by the AWB as a step towards assimilation (where Aboriginal students were to be treated the same as non-Aboriginal students, but with no respect for cultural differences).

There were threats of a boycott by non-Aboriginal parents, but Inspector Meckiff and Aboriginal parents resisted their pressure, forcing a grudging acceptance of Aboriginal children at the school.

Aboriginal students were still treated differently in class and were separated from other students.

Reference: Fletcher (1989b) p 233.

*See Gulargambone case study

NSW Teachers Federation opposes segregation

The NSW Teachers Federation opposed segregated Aboriginal schools and supported integration policies.

Reference: Fletcher (1989b) pp 226–227.

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1961

NSW Teachers Federation research into Aboriginal education

Inspired by the FCAATSI conference in Queensland, the NSW Teachers Federation conducted a study of conditions in Aboriginal schools based on surveys with teachers at Aboriginal schools.

References: Fletcher (1989b) p 229; Fletcher (1989a) pp 271–272.

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1962

Save the Children Fund pre-schools begin

The first Save the Children Fund pre-school for Aboriginal children opened at Coffs Harbour (North coast NSW).

The teacher assistants were all Aboriginal women, as Aboriginal people of the area considered this culturally appropriate.

Save the Children Fund pre-schools were started at Walgett, Brewarrina, Griffith, Armidale and La Perouse.

References: Dawn (1964b) p 2; Dawn (1974) p 7.

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1963

Aboriginal Education Consultative Committee (AECC)

The Consultative Committee on Aboriginal Education, based on Aboriginal community organisation was formed.

This group consulted with Aboriginal people regarding their education desires and needs and conveyed this information to the NSW Education Department.

They recognised that Aboriginal families needed to be involved in education.

At this stage the group received little funding.

Reference: Berg (2003) p 14.

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1965

Australian Institute of Aboriginal Studies (AIAS, later AIATSIS) formed

The AIAS Act enabled the establishment of a national center in Canberra to document Aboriginal cultures.

The AIAS Act has since been expanded to include Torres Strait Islander people.

The organisation has expanded its role from documenting Indigenous cultures into training Indigenous researchers and has become a major centre for Indigenous family history research and academic work.

References: Nakata (2004a); Wentworth Lectures, AIATSIS

First Aboriginal graduate from the University of Sydney

Charles Perkins graduated with his BA from University of Sydney.

He is the first known Aboriginal graduate from this university and had the support of an ABSCHOL scholarship.

He became a well-known activist (famous for his role in organising the Freedom Rides), leader, public servant in the Department of Aboriginal Affairs and author.

References: Dawn, October, 1963; Read (2001) p 73.

Freedom Rides drew attention to racism in country towns

Charles Perkins and other students who were members of SAFA (Student Action for Aborigines) organised a tour of country towns such as Moree, Boggabilla, Gulargambone (central west NSW) and Kempsey (north coast NSW).

The tour also noted discrimination in education, and the poor standard of education that Aboriginal students were receiving.

References: Freedom Rides; Curthoys, Ann (1965) cited in Freedom Ride - Gulargambone; Read (2001) pp 98–100.

Charles Perkins explained the significance of the Freedom Rides:

‘It was the beginning of a flood of new relationships, a new era in looking at ourselves as Aboriginal people.’

Perkins cited in Read (2001) p 103.

NSW Teachers Federation study of Aboriginal education

The Teachers Federation study found that there was a lack of teacher training for Aboriginal education, which was affecting students’ learning.

The report demonstrated that Aboriginal students were leaving secondary school early and were often struggling, according to teachers.

Economic pressures and racism also created difficult learning environments for students.

Reference: Fletcher (1989a) pp 276–279.

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1966

University of Queensland‘s first Aboriginal graduate

Margaret Valadian graduated with a BA Social Studies from the University of Queensland – the first Aboriginal University graduate from this university.

Valadian has advised government and education organisations on reforms to school education and higher education and is the author of numerous works on education issues.

References: Heywood/National Foundation for Australian Women. (2002) Margaret Valadian; Valadian (1991).

Valadian (1991) suggests that the reasoning behind institutional schooling was to give Aboriginal children a minimal education suitable only to prepare them for the most basic level of employment.

Aboriginal Education Council (AEC) Scholarship Scheme started

The AEC started Incentive Secondary Scholarships and coaching.

This program assisted 27 Aboriginal students to continue their schooling and to complete their leaving certificates.

Their successful work was supported entirely from fundraising and volunteer labour.

Reference: Berg (2003) pp 17–18.

Aboriginal Study Centres established (Sydney)

A study centre was set up at La Perouse for Aboriginal students.

The AEC provided resources, and teachers and university students volunteered to assist Aboriginal students with their schoolwork.

The study centre was managed by the La Perouse community.

Other study centres followed at Kellyville, Green Valley, Alexandria and Chippendale.

References: Berg (2003) p 27; Dawn (1970) p 9.

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