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A Trans-generational effect of the Aborigines Act 1905 (WA): The making of the Fringedwellers in the South-west of Western Australia

Delmege, S. (2005) A Trans-generational effect of the Aborigines Act 1905 (WA): The making of the Fringedwellers in the South-west of Western Australia. eLaw Journal: Murdoch University Electronic Journal of Law, 12 (1-2).

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    Abstract

    The Aborigines Act 1905 (WA) was the basis of Aboriginal administration for half a century, and is arguably the most significant piece of legislation to affect people of indigenous descent in Western Australia. It emerged in response to international outrage over conditions in the northwest pastoral industry and claimed “to make provision for the better protection and care of the Aboriginal inhabitants of Western Australia”, but the well-documented consequences of the now infamous Act indicate that it did not result in any improvement to their welfare. However, extending the definition of ‘Aboriginal native’ to peoples of mixed descent and granting the Chief Protector sweeping paternal powers to intervene in the private sphere did control who each person could marry, parent, associate or live with. And, for more than half a century, it did control access to education and health services, employment, accommodation and property ownership. What this paper does is examine the impact of the Act on the emerging population of mixed descent in the south-west of Western Australia and to show how this provided the conditions for ‘fringedwellers’ to emerge as a particular form of Aboriginal identity in the twentieth century. But first I will outline the socio-political conditions associated with the emergence of this population of people of mixed descent.

    Publication Type: Journal Article
    Murdoch Affiliation: School of Media, Communication and Culture
    Publisher: School of Law, Murdoch University
    Copyright: 2005 Murdoch University
    Publishers Website: https://elaw.murdoch.edu.au/
    URI: http://researchrepository.murdoch.edu.au/id/eprint/9573
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