The Lockhart River Mission, on Cape York Peninsula, was run by the Anglican Church, which operated a dormitory system to house Mission children. It opened in 1924 and control was handed over the the State Government in 1967.
The Lockhart River Mission followed the usual pattern for Church of England missions, which was to establish a school for the children. The introduction of dormitory accommodation usually ensured the regular attendance of children at school, and additional vocational training.
A girls' dormitory was officially established at the Lockhart River Mission in 1930. In 1938 the dormitory was temporarily closed due to claims from Church administrators that the girls were not being looked after adequately. Annual Reports indicate that additional sleeping accommodation was added to the girls' dormitory during 1938.
In 1942 the Mission was closed for a period of around six months due to threats associated with World War Two. The Mission inhabitants were encouraged to 'go bush' during this time. In July 1942 the Mission was reopened.
A new boys' quarters (located near the stockyard) was completed in 1947. In 1955, a children's community centre was established on the Mission. This heralded the decline of the Mission's dormitory system, however, it is also possible that the children's centre was used from time to time, as somewhere to house children in need. The Centre fed and bathed children and laundered their clothes, under the supervision of a nursing sister. The communal kitchen fed around forty pre-school children one meal per day. There were communal bathrooms for the children who were made to shower each morning before school.
The Lockhart River Mission was handed over to the State government on 23 May 1967.
According to government records, on this date, three remaining children were discharged into the care of their parent/s.
The Lockhart River Mission degenerated under the care of the government, which tried to relocate residents of Lockhart River to Bamaga and other sites in far north Queensland.
In 1987 the Lockhart River Community was given a Deed of Grant in Trust (DOGIT) title of the lands which is administered by locally elected councillors.
Sources used to compile this entry: 'Lockhart River Aboriginal Shire Council', in Queensland Places, Centre for the government of Queensland, University of Queensland, 2014, http://www.queenslandplaces.com.au/lockhart-river-aboriginal-shire-council; 'Our History', in Lockhard River Aboriginal Shire Council, Lockhard River Aboriginal Shire Council, 2014, http://lockhart.qld.gov.au/shire-profile/our-history/; Swain, Tony and Rose, Deborah Bird, Aboriginal Australians and Christian missions: ethnographic and historical studies, Australian Association for the Study of Religions, South Australian College of Advanced Education, Sturt Campus, 1988.
Prepared by: Lee Butterworth
Created: 27 April 2014, Last modified: 28 November 2014