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Australian Capital Territory - Legislation

Aborigines Welfare Ordinance 1954 (1954 - 1965)

  • Aborigines Welfare Ordinance 1954 (Cth)

    Aborigines Welfare Ordinance 1954 (Cth), courtesy of AustLII: Australasian Legal Information Institute.

Principal Act

The Aborigines Welfare Ordinance 1954 (Act no. 8/1954) was Commonwealth legislation, established to 'provide for the welfare and control of Aborigines, particularly those at the Wreck Bay reserve' (Jervis Bay Territory). The 1954 Ordinance followed the lines of the New South Wales Aborigines Protection Acts, 1909-1943 and was approved by the Aborigines Welfare Board of New South Wales. The 1954 Ordinance was repealed by the Aborigines Welfare Repeal Ordinance 1965 on 11 November 1965.


From 1911 until 1988 a number of NSW laws as well as Commonwealth Ordinances applied in the ACT. Following self-government in 1988 the ACT passed its own laws. From 1915 the legislation applying in the ACT was also applied to Jervis Bay. After the Aborigines Welfare Repeal Ordinance 1965 the removal of all Aboriginal children came under the Child Welfare Ordinance 1957 and subsequent child welfare legislation. Repealed by Aborigines Welfare Repeal Ordinance 1965 (Cth).

The Aborigines Welfare Ordinance 1954 stated that the Minister may exercise a general supervision and care over all 'aborigines' and over all matters affecting the interests and welfare of 'aborigines'. On the application of a parent or guardian of a child, the Minister may admit the child to his control and provide for his/her maintenance, education and training. A person who in the opinion of the Minister is guilty of misconduct may be removed from a reserve. The Minister may apply to a court for an order to remove an 'aboriginal person' or a person 'apparently having an admixture of 'aboriginal blood' to a reserve or such other place as the court directs on the ground that the person 'is living in insanitary or undesirable conditions' or 'should be placed under control'. The court may also direct that the person returns to the State or other place from which he/she came. The Minister may issue exemptions from ordinance.


Online Resources


Aborigines Welfare Ordinance 1954 (Cth)
Aborigines Welfare Ordinance 1954 (Cth)
AustLII: Australasian Legal Information Institute


Sources used to compile this entry: 'Australian Capital Territory: Provisions of the legislations', in To remove and protect: laws that changed Aboriginal lives, Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies, 2009,; Law Research Service, Melbourne Law School, Law Library, The University of Melbourne. 'Find and Connect Project - Northern Territory Legislation', 1 February 2013, held in the project files at the University of Melbourne eScholarship Research Centre.

Prepared by: Lydia Connell and Christine Moje