1. Aboriginal people
Image 3: The inauguration of Sir Douglas Nicholls as Governor of South Australia, 1977
NAA: A6160, 5/1/77/5
For more than half of the 20th century, the function of Aboriginal affairs was the responsibility of the Australian states. The Commonwealth had limited involvement in policy-making for Aboriginal people, except in the Northern Territory which it administered from 1911.
The Commonwealth did organise periodic conferences of Commonwealth and state Aboriginal authorities. The first of these was in Canberra in 1937, at which representatives of state governments (except Tasmania) and the Northern Territory administration were present. South Australia was represented by Mr MT McLean, Chief Protector of Aboriginals, South Australia and Professor JB Cleland, Chairman of the Advisory Council of Aborigines, South Australia. At this conference a uniform policy was agreed, the central plank of which was 'this conference believes that the destiny of the natives of aboriginal origin, but not of the full blood, lies in their ultimate absorption by the people of the Commonwealth, and it therefore recommends that all efforts be directed to that end'.
After pressure and campaigning for rights for Aboriginal people, a number of changes occurred in the 1960s. In 1962 the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918 was amended to enable Aboriginal people to vote. In 1967 a federal referendum was held to remove the reference in the Constitution that precluded the Commonwealth from making laws relating to Aboriginal people (part of Section 51), and to remove section 127 which prevented Aboriginal people from being counted in reckoning the numbers of the people of the Commonwealth, a state or other part of the Commonwealth.
Although the Commonwealth was not responsible for Aboriginal affairs before this referendum (except in the territories), the Archives does hold records about Aboriginal people before 1967. Aboriginal people came into contact with the Commonwealth Government in many ways, for example serving in the defence forces or working on the railways.
Records relating specifically to Aboriginal people from South Australia may be held in different Archives offices. They range from the correspondence of agencies responsible for administering Aboriginal affairs (after 1973), to photographs, index cards, employment statistics and incidental reports. The Archives also holds files of other agencies, such as railways correspondence and postal records. The level of detail about a person can vary – from a case file about an individual (for example, a defence service personnel dossier) to passing references in correspondence files.
Often items do not indicate whether people are Aboriginal so it is not easy to find, for example, all South Australian Aboriginal people who served in the defence forces – a researcher will need to know the people's names. To overcome this for World War I army records, the Archives has compiled a list from various sources of the names of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who served, with basic details including place of birth and enlistment. An Archives reference officer can assist with access to the list.
There are some records held by the Archives relating to Aboriginal people from outside South Australia who lived in the state. For example, a number of Northern Territory Aboriginal people were evacuated to South Australia during World War II. In addition a number of Northern Territorians moved to South Australia for education, health care, foster care and so on.
There are a number of series mentioned in various chapters of this guide that would outline references to South Australian Aboriginal people. These include Chapter 2 (arts, recreation and sport), Chapter 6 (defence), Chapter 17 (ASIO files of prominent Aboriginal activists, particularly if associated with the Communist Party of Australia) and Chapter 19 (war service personnel files).
|SELECTED SERIES RELATING TO ABORIGINAL PEOPLE IN SOUTH AUSTRALIA – PRE-1967|
|Recorded by: Department of Social Services, Central Office|
|Correspondence files, 'B' (Child Endowment), 1951–74||A885|
|Recorded by: Australian News and Information Bureau, Canberra|
|Photographic negatives and prints, 1945–71||A1200|
|Recorded by: Director of Social Services, South Australia|
|Pension index cards, 1948–82||D53|
|Recorded by: Department of Labour and National Service, Branch Office/Regional Administration, South Australia|
|Correspondence files, 1954–97||D359|
|Recorded by: Postmaster-General's Department, State Administration, South Australia|
|Photographs of post office buildings, personnel and equipment, 1840–1990||D5440|
|Recorded by: Commonwealth Railways Commissioner|
|Correspondence files, 1913–83||B300|
|Historical photographs of the former Commonwealth Railways, 1901–78||D1334|
|Photographs of Trans-Australian Railway, 1912–39||B3104|
|Photograph albums, 1914–60||B3114|
|Photographs of activities associated with Trans-Australian Railway, 1940–50||B3119|
|SELECTED ITEMS RELATING TO ABORIGINAL PEOPLE IN SOUTH AUSTRALIA|
|Population census Aboriginal tabulations South Australia, 1921||A9410, 30|
|Conference of Commonwealth and State Aboriginal Authorities – Canberra, April 1937||A659, 1942/1/8104|
|Training of Aboriginal children from Hermannsburg Mission in South Australia, 1959–60||A452, 1959/739|
|South Australian Aboriginal Affairs Bill, 1962–67||A452, 1962/6042|
|Map showing Aboriginal reserves in South Australia, 1963–65||A452, 1963/7060|
|North-west Aboriginal reserve – Amata, South Australia, 1968–74||A2354, 1968/124 PART 1|
|South Australian Pitjantjatjara Land Rights Act, 1981||A1209, 1981/1538|
|Aboriginal Affairs – Commonwealth and interstate – South Australia, 1958–67||B357, 7|
|Aboriginal Affairs – Commonwealth and interstate – South Australia, 1958–67||B357, 8|
|Protection of Aborigines, 1914–74||B300, 7037 PART 1|
|Protection of Aborigines, 1914–74||B300, 7037 PART 2|
|Protection of Aborigines, 1914–74||B300, 7037 PART 3|
|Protection of Aborigines, 1914–74||B300, 7037 PART 4|
|Division of Import Procurement – cotton dress prints suitable for Aborigines available for distribution from Lend Lease Stocks, 1943||D1975, Z1943/1009|
|Parts played by Australian Aborigines in the war, 1945–46||D844, 73A/1/3|
|Social service benefits paid to Aborigines, 1951–54||D678, A451|
|Aborigines, 1957–61||D678, A1 PART 5|
|Aborigines, 1957–61||D678, A1 PART 6|
|Aborigines, 1957–61||D678, A1 PART 7|
|Complaints by organisations in South Australia concerning welfare of part-Aboriginal children in South Australia, 1967||F1, 1967/4619|
From 1967 Commonwealth responsibility for Aboriginal matters lay with the Prime Minister (1967–71), then briefly the Department of the Vice-president of the Executive Council until the creation of the Department of Environment, Aborigines and the Arts in May 1971. A separate Commonwealth Department of Aboriginal Affairs was created in December 1972. The department was responsible for matters related to the Aboriginal people of Australia; development and administration of national policies for the advancement and welfare of Aboriginal people, including administration of welfare activities in the territories; and special laws for Aboriginal people.
In South Australia the department maintained its principal state office in Adelaide, with regional offices in Ceduna and Port Augusta. The department was superseded by the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission in 1990.
Information about Aboriginal people and issues can be found in the records of the central office of the Department of Aboriginal Affairs, as well as in the state office and Port Augusta area office files.
|SELECTED SERIES RELATING TO ABORIGINAL PEOPLE IN SOUTH AUSTRALIA – POST-1967|
|Canberra and Sydney|
|Recorded by: Department of Aboriginal Affairs, State Office, South Australia|
|Correspondence files, 1973–93||D864|
|General correspondence files, 1976–||D4015|
|Project funding (grants) files, 1973–90||D4326|
|Planning and project funding files, 1975–91||D3756|
|Press cuttings, 1971–84||D1953|
|Newspaper clippings, 1980–2005 (Maintained by State Office until 1990)||D4970|
|Emu conference papers on future land management, 1988||D4742|
|Recorded by: Department of Aboriginal Affairs, Central Office|
|Aboriginal Affairs photographic negatives, 1974–78||A8739|
|Recorded by: Australian Information Service, Canberra|
|Photographic transparencies, 'AK' (Aboriginal Affairs), 1980||A8598|
|Recorded by: Department of Aboriginal Affairs, Ceduna Branch Office|
|Newspaper clippings, 1980–2005 (Maintained by Ceduna Office from 1990)||D4970|
|Correspondence files, 1973–90||D4224|
|Ceduna Branch Office correspondence files, 1975–90||D3973|
|Recorded by: Department of Aboriginal Affairs, Port Augusta Office|
|General correspondence files, 1973–90||D4319|
|Project funding (grants) files, 1973–90||D4312|
|Recorded by: South Australian Aborigines Department|
|Index cards relating to deceased and exempt Aboriginal people, 1917–57||D4770|
|Recorded by: Department of Labour and National Service, Branch Office, South Australia|
|Aboriginal survey of the Northern Territory and South Australia – country and metropolitan areas, 1972||AP849/17|