The Aborigines Act Amendment Act 1936, also known as the 'Native Administration Act 1936', amended the Aborigines Act 1905. It created the Department of Native Affairs, and changed the title of Chief Protector to the Commissioner for Native Affairs. The Act also extended the powers of that role, especially as they affected children: the Commissioner was the legal guardian of all Aboriginal children to the age of 21, 'notwithstanding that the child has a parent'. The Native Administration Act 1936 was repealed by the Native Welfare Act 1963, which commenced on 1 July 1964.
The Aborigines Act Amendment Act 1936 has been seen as a key instrument for extending the power of the Western Australian authorities in the lives of Aboriginal people in the State.
The 1936 Act extended the Chief Protector's powers in the new role of Commissioner, principally through its definition of the the term 'native', which included all Aboriginal people defined as being of 'full' descent, and any descendants 'of less than full blood', including 'half-caste' and also 'quadroons' who were under the age of 21, and who lived with other 'natives'.
Henry Reynolds reflects that the 1936 Act gave the Commissioner, A. O. Neville, 'almost complete control over the the part-Aboriginal population' of Western Australia. With these powers, Neville aimed to realise his ambition to 'eliminate' the Aboriginal 'race' through a policy of assimilation, which included the removal of Aboriginal children from their families and their placement in Homes and 'service' (work).
Sources used to compile this entry: To Remove and Protect: Aboriginal Lives Under Control [website], 2010, https://aiatsis.gov.au/collection/featured-collections/remove-and-protect; Reynolds, Henry, An Indelible Stain?, Penguin, Melbourne, 2001. p. 152.; Tilbrook, Lois, Nyungar Tradition : glimpses of Aborigines of south-western Australia 1829-1914, Online version published by the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies in 2007, University of Western Australia Press, 1983, http://aiatsis.gov.au/sites/default/files/catalogue_resources/m0022954.pdf. p. 5.; Law Research Service, Melbourne Law School, Law Library, The University of Melbourne. 'Find and Connect Project - Western Australia Legislation', 13 December 2013, held in the project files at the University of Melbourne eScholarship Research Centre.
Prepared by: Debra Rosser, Leanne Howard and Rebe Taylor
Created: 18 July 2011, Last modified: 15 June 2018