The Aborigines Protection Act 1909 (25/1909) was 'An Act to provide for the protection and care of aborigines; to repeal the Supply of Liquors to Aborigines Prevention Act; to amend the Vagrancy Act, 1902, and the Police Offences (Amendment) Act, 1908; and for purposes consequent thereon or incidental thereto.' It provided the Aborigines Protection Board, which had existed since 1881, with legal powers to 'provide for the protection and care of Aborigines.' It was the first piece of legislation that dealt specifically with Aboriginal people in New South Wales. It applied to all Aboriginal people but contained particular provisions for children, including the right of the Protection Board to remove youths from Aboriginal Reserves and place them into service. The Act was amended in 1915, 1918, 1936, 1940, 1943 and 1963. It was repealed by the Aborigines Act 1969.
The Act outlined the duties of the Protection Board, gave it the right to control Aboriginal reserves and to appoint staff. It also provided the foundation for the Board's policies of removing youths from Aboriginal stations and setting them to work.
The new legislation gave the Board the right to apprentice 'the child of any Aborigine, or the neglected child of any person apparently having an admixture of Aboriginal blood in his veins', so long as the child was between the ages of 14 and 21 years of age. The Aborigines Protection Act stated that the Board was to act in accordance with the Neglected Children and Juvenile Offenders Act 1905 and the Apprentices Act 1901, but the Board developed its own policies that were quite different to those applied to non-Aboriginal children and adults.
In stages from 1915 until 1939 the Board changed the Act to strengthen its powers to remove children and to control the movements of adults. In 1943 the Act was amended to change the name of the Aborigines Protection Board to the Aborigines Welfare Board. The Act was repealed by the Aborigines Act 1969 which is when the Welfare Board was abolished.
1909 - 1969 Aborigines Protection Act 1909
1969 - 1983 Aborigines Act 1969
Sources used to compile this entry: New South Wales. Aborigines Protection Board (ed.), Report of the Board, Government Printer, 1881-1941. Also available at http://nla.gov.au/nla.aus-vn1447508; New South Wales. Aborigines Welfare Board, Annual report of the Aborigines Welfare Board for the year ended 1940, Government Printer, 1941; New South Wales. Aborigines Welfare Board (ed.), Annual report of the Aborigines Welfare Board for the year ended …, Government Printer, 1949-1968; Parry, Naomi, 'Such a longing': black and white children in welfare in New South Wales and Tasmania, 1880-1940, Department of History, University of New South Wales, 2007, 361 pp, http://hdl.handle.net/1959.4/40786; Radi, Heather, ''Ardill, George Edward (1857-1945)'', in Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, Melbourne University Press, 1979, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/ardill-george-edward-5048; Thinee, Kristy and Bradford, Tracy, Connecting Kin: Guide to Records, A guide to help people separated from their families search for their records [completed in 1998], New South Wales Department of Community Services, Sydney, New South Wales, 1998, https://clan.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2020/10/connectkin_guide.pdf.
Prepared by: Naomi Parry
Created: 21 February 2011, Last modified: 10 June 2021