• Legislation

Aboriginal Orphans Act 1844, South Australia


The Aboriginal Orphans Act (No 12 of 7 and 8 Vic, 1844) was passed and commenced on 28 August 1844. Its full title was: An Ordinance to Provide for the Protection, Maintenance, and Up-Bringing of Orphans and other Destitute Children of the Aborigines. It was repealed by the Aborigines Act 1911 on 7 December 1911. The Aboriginal Orphans Act 1844 allowed the Protector of Aborigines to apprentice out orphan Aboriginal children and, with parental consent, other Aboriginal children until the age of 21. It gave the Protector of Aborigines the right to visit children and to penalise employers who mistreated the apprentices.

Key provision: The Protector of Aborigines made the legal guardian of every ‘aboriginal and half-caste child’ whose parents are dead or unknown, or one of whom agrees, until the age of 21. Any two Justices, with the consent of the Governor and one of the parents, may apprentice ‘any half-caste or other aboriginal child having obtained a suitable age’ until the age of 21 provided that ‘due and reasonable provision is made for the maintenance, clothing and humane treatment of any apprentice.’ Repealed by Aborigines Act 1911.


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