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Western Australia - Concept

Commissioner of Native Welfare (1954 - 1972)

From
1954
To
1972

The Commissioner of Native Welfare was an official role created by the Native Welfare Act 1954, replacing the Commissioner for Native Affairs. The Commissioner was the head of the Department of Native Welfare, and the legal guardian of every Aboriginal child in Western Australia to the age of 21 years, except those children made wards of state by the Child Welfare Act 1947. He had the power to remove Aborignal children and place them in Homes or in 'service' (work). The Commissioner ceased to be guardian of Aboriginal chidlren from 1963, and became responsible for their 'custody, maintenance and education'. The role of Commissioner ended with the creation of the Department of Community Welfare in 1972.

Details

Stanley Middleton, who had been Commissioner for Native Affairs from 1948, continued as Commissioner of Native Welfare from 1954 to 1962. Frank Ellis Gare was Commissioner from 1962 to 1972.

Under the Native Welfare Act 1963, the Commissioner ceased to be the guardian of Aboriginal children ('native minors') and the duties of the Commissioner, as head of the Department of Native Welfare, included providing for 'the custody, maintenance and education of the children of natives', and also regulating 'the control, care and education of the children of natives'. This role was abolished by the Aboriginal Affairs Planning Authority Act 1972. The remaining child welfare responsibilities of the Department of Welfare were transferred to the Department of Community Welfare of the Department of Community Welfare in 1972.

Timeline

 1898 - 1936 Chief Protector of Aborigines
       1936 - 1954 Commissioner for Native Affairs
             1954 - 1972 Commissioner of Native Welfare
                   1972 - 1985 Department for Community Welfare
                         1985 - 1992 Department for Community Services
                               1992 - 1995 Department for Community Development
                                     1995 - 2001 Department for Family and Children's Services
                                           2001 - 2007 Department for Community Development
                                                 2007 - 2013 Department for Communities
                                                 2007 - 2013 Department for Child Protection
                                                       2013 - 2017 Department of Local Government and Communities
                                                       2013 - 2017 Department for Child Protection and Family Support
                                                             2017 - Department of Local Government, Sport and Cultural Industries
                                                             2017 - Child Protection and Family Support

Related Legislation

  • Aborigines Act 1905 (1906 - 1964)

    The Commissioner continued the legal authority granted by the Aborigines Act 1905 until the Act was repealed in 1963.

    Date: 1954 - 1963

  • Native Welfare Act 1954 (1955 - 1964)

    The Native Welfare Act 1954 changed the title of the role of Commissioner of Native Affairs to that of Commissioner of Native Welfare.

  • Native Welfare Act 1963 (1963 - 1972)

    The Native Welfare Act 1963 changed the powers of the Commissioner of Native Welfare; he ceased to be the legal guardian of all Aboriginal children, and became responsible for their 'care'.

  • Native Welfare Act Amendment Act 1960 (1960 - 1963)

    The Native Welfare Act Amendment Act 1960 exempted the Commissioner of Native Welfare from personal liability in carrying out duties under the Act.

    Date: 1960 - 1972

Related Organisations

  • Bamburra Hostel (1970 - )

    The Commissioner of Native Welfare could regulate the 'care' of Aboriginal children at Bamburra Hostel.

    Date: 1970 - 1972

  • Beagle Bay Mission (1895 - 1976)

    Commissioner of Native Welfare was the legal guardian of children at Beagle Bay Mission until 1963 when he could regulate the 'care' of Aboriginal children.

    Date: 1954 - 1972

  • Carnarvon Mission (1945 - 1975?)

    The Commissioner of Native Welfare was the legal guardian of children at Carnarvon Mission until 1963 when he could regulate the 'care' of those Aboriginal children.

    Date: 1954 - 1972

  • Child Welfare Department, State of Western Australia (1927 - 1972)

    The Child Welfare Department shared responsibility for the 'care and control' of Aboriginal children who were Wards with the Commissioner of Native Welfare.

  • Cosmo Newbery Mission (1953 - 1973?)

    The Commissioner of Native Welfare was the guardian of Aboriginal children placed at Cosmo Newbery Mission.

    Date: 1955 - 1963

  • Department of Native Welfare, State of Western Australia (1955 - 1972)

    The Commissioner was the head of the Department of Native Welfare.

  • Derby Hostel (1956 - 1994)

    The Commissioner of Native Welfare was the guardian of all 'native' children at Derby Hostel, United Aborigines Mission until 1963. After 1963, the Department of Native Welfare could make regulations for the 'control, care and education of the children of natives'.

  • Fairhaven Hostel (1965 - 1987)

    The Commissioner of Native Welfare could make regulations for young people at Fairhaven Hostel under its powers for the 'control, care and education of the children of natives'.

    Date: 1965 - 1972

  • Forrest River Mission (1913 - 1968)

    The Commissioner of Native Welfare was the legal guardian of children at Forrest River Mission until 1963 when could regulate the 'care' of Aboriginal children.

    Date: 1954 - 1972

  • Halls Creek Mission (1943 - 1960)

    The Commissioner of Native Welfare was the legal guardian of children at Halls Creek Mission.

  • Kurrawang Mission (1952 - 1984)

    The Commissioner of Native Welfare was the guardian of all 'native' children at Kurrawang Mission until 1963. After 1963, the Department of Native Welfare could make regulations for the 'control, care and education of the children of natives'.

    Date: 1954 - 1972

  • La Grange Mission (1955 - 1984)

    The Commissioner of Native Welfare was the legal guardian of children at La Grange Mission until 1963 when he could regulate the 'care' of Aboriginal children.

    Date: 1954 - 1972

  • Lombadina (1909 - 1975)

    The Commissioner of Native Welfare was the legal guardian of children at Lombadina until 1963 when he could regulate the 'care' of Aboriginal children.

    Date: 1954 - 1972

  • Mount Margaret Mission (1921 - 1975)

    The Commissioner of Native Welfare was the legal guardian of children at Mount Margaret Mission until 1963 when he could regulate the 'care' of those Aboriginal children.

    Date: 1954 - 1972

  • Mowanjum (1956 - 1972)

    The Commissioner of Native Welfare was the legal guardian of children at Mowanjum until 1963 when he could regulate the 'care' of those Aboriginal children.

    Date: 1954 - 1972

  • Norseman Mission (1935 - 1985)

    The Commissioner of Native Welfare was the legal guardian of children at Norseman Mission until 1963 when he could regulate the 'care' of Aboriginal children.

    Date: 1954 - 1972

  • Pallottine Mission, Tardun (1948 - 2004)

    The Commissioner of Native Welfare was the legal guardian of children at Pallottine Mission, Tardun until 1963 when he could regulate the 'care' of those Aboriginal children.

    Date: 1954 - 1968?

  • Rangevue Hostel (1969 - 1973?)

    The Commissioner of Native Welfare could regulate the 'care' of Aboriginal children in Rangevue Hostel.

  • Sister Kate's Children's Cottage Home (1934 - 1980)

    The Commissioner of Native Welfare was the legal guardian of Aboriginal children at Sister Kate's Children's Cottage Home until 1963 when he could regulate the 'care' of those Aboriginal children.

  • St Mary's Mission, New Norcia (1848 - 1974)

    The Commissioner of Native Welfare was the legal guardian of children at St Mary's Mission, New Norcia until 1963 when he could regulate the 'care' of those Aboriginal children.

  • Sunday Island Mission (1937 - 1964)

    The Commissioner of Native Welfare was the legal guardian of children at Sunday Island Mission until 1963 when he could regulate the 'care' of those Aboriginal children.

  • Wandering Mission (1944 - 1979)

    The Commissioner of Native Welfare was was the guardian of all 'native' children at Wandering Mission until 1963 when he could regulate the 'care' of those Aboriginal children.

    Date: 1954 - 1972

  • Warburton Mission (1933 - 1977)

    The Commissioner of Native Welfare was the legal guardian of children at Warburton Mission until 1963 when he could regulate the 'care' of those Aboriginal children.

    Date: 1954 - 1972

  • Wotjulum (1951 - 1956)

    The Commissioner of Native Welfare was the legal guardian of children at Wotjulum.

    Date: 1954 - 1956

Publications

Book Sections

  • van den Berg, Rosemary, 'Aboriginal protectors', in Gregory, Jenny and Jan Gothard [editors] (eds), Historical Encyclopedia of Western Australia, University of Western Australia Press, Crawley, W.A., 2009, pp. Pages 36-37. Details

Reports

  • Western Australia. Department of Native Welfare, Annual Report: Department of Native Welfare, Dept. Of Native Welfare,, Perth [W.A.], 1955-1972. Details

Online Resources

Sources used to compile this entry: To Remove and Protect: Aboriginal Lives Under Control [website], 2010, http://aiatsis.gov.au/collections/collections-online/digitised-collections/remove-and-protect.

Prepared by: Debra Rosser