Commonwealth Aboriginal policy in the Northern Territory: 1911-1939

2017-02-17T01:59:29Z (GMT) by McGinn, Ian Michael
This thesis investigates the outcomes of Australian Commonwealth Aboriginal policy in the Northern Territory between 1911 and 1939. In 1911 the Australian Commonwealth acquired control over the Northern Territory, which to that point had been a jurisdiction of South Australia. It was the first time since Australia’s Federation in 1901 that the Australian Commonwealth had had control over a large Aboriginal population. Due to this, the Commonwealth aimed to set the example for other Australian States and Territories in relation to the governance of Aboriginal Australians. The way in which the Australian Commonwealth governed Aboriginal Australians between 1911 and 1939 has not been replicated. After the outbreak of World War Two in 1939 and the subsequent Nazi atrocities that occurred, the international community began to reject colonial political systems and governance methods. Many of these systems had been founded upon 19th century race paradigms and these too began to be deconstructed and rejected internationally. Prior to these political and ideological shifts, Australian Commonwealth legislation and policy was influenced by such colonial paradigms and ideologies. This made the 1911 to 1939 period a unique era of Commonwealth governance of Aboriginal people. There were various outcomes for the Aboriginal people who were subjected to these policies and practices. This was especially evident in the areas of non-Aboriginal and Aboriginal relations, Aboriginal child welfare and Aboriginal employment, as these three key areas were focused on within legislation and policy. This thesis will investigate the outcomes of Commonwealth Aboriginal policy in these three areas. Multiple research methods will be adopted to conduct this critical analysis. These include archival research, primary source analysis and secondary source analysis. By adopting such methods this thesis will analyse outcomes within the three key policy areas focused on by the Australian Commonwealth between 1911 and 1939 in the Northern Territory. Much of the literature that has investigated this period has focused on specific outcomes in the areas of non-Aboriginal and Aboriginal relations, child welfare or employment. This thesis has been more extensive in that it provides a thorough and extensive analysis of all these areas of Commonwealth policy. This provides a holistic investigation of the outcomes of Commonwealth Aboriginal policy between 1911 and 1939 in the Northern Territory and demonstrates how these policies affected the lives of Aboriginal people in a number of areas.