The Aborigines Inland Mission (AIM) was an Evangelical Baptist missionary organisation established by Retta Dixon in 1905. The following year, Dixon married Leonard Long, a Wesleyan, and the ministry became broadly Protestant. The AIM and its staff, who later included some of the Longs' children, ran the St Clair Mission, the Singleton Home, the Native Workers' Training College and the Singleton Bible Training Institute in New South Wales, as well as the Phillip Creek Mission and the Retta Dixon Home in the Northern Territory. It published Our AIM and The Evangel and employed missionaries across NSW and the NT. The Aborigines Inland Mission changed its name to Australian Indigenous Ministries in 1998.
Retta Dixon had been associated with the Christian Endeavourer Fellowship and New South Wales Aborigines Mission at La Perouse, Sydney. In around 1893 she moved to St Clair Mission and later, with the support of her Singleton Committee, took over the Mission and set up the Singleton Home in 'Glasgow Place', George Street.
Early in 1906 Retta Dixon married Leonard Long and together they ran the organisation of the AIM. They were superintendent and matron of the Singleton Home until 1910, when they returned to Sydney, leaving the Home in the management of the Smiths.
According to the Encyclopaedia of Aboriginal Australia (1994), AIM missionaries commenced their activities at St Clair and Redbournebury (near Singleton) and Karuah (Port Stephens). The first annual AIM convention and first publication of the journal Our AIM occurred in 1907. By this time the organisation had missionaries at Yass, Brungle, Warangesda, Moonahcullah, Cummeragunja and Walcha. Aboriginal administration agencies in Queensland and Western Australia approved the placement of AIM missionaries. This led to the beginning of work at Bassendean in WA in 1908, and at Heberton in 1911.
Aboriginal assistants to AIM missionaries were employed where possible. Over the next three decades the AIM extended work to almost every Aboriginal settlement in NSW as well as to Gayndah, Cherbourg, Woorabinda, Palm Island, Normanton, Stradbroke Island, Ravenshoe and Cooktown in Queensland, Port Augusta and Tarcoola in South Australia, and Parap (near Darwin) in the Northern Territory.
1905 - 1998 Aborigines Inland Mission
1998 - Australian Indigenous Ministries
Sources used to compile this entry: 'Opening New Training College at Pindimar', Durham and Gloucester Advertiser, 14 April 1939, http://trove.nla.gov.au/ndp/del/article/140923281; 'Minimbah House and Outbuildings', in State Heritage Register, NSW Office of Environment and Heritage, 2000-2010, https://www.hms.heritage.nsw.gov.au/App/Item/ViewItem?itemId=14293; Gray, Anna, St Clair Mission, Australian Museum, Australian Museum, 2010. Also available at https://web.archive.org/web/20171021052801/http://australianmuseum.net.au/St-Clair-Mission/; Radi, Heather, 'Long, Margaret Jane (Retta) (1878-1956)', in Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/long-margaret-jane-retta-10857; 'Remembering the Mission Days: stories from the Aborigines' Inland Mission', Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies, http://aiatsis.gov.au/exhibitions/remembering-mission-days; Email correspondence from Dr Christine Brett-Vickers, 21-22 January 2013 and 15 May 2014.
Prepared by: Naomi Parry
Created: 15 May 2014, Last modified: 20 June 2014