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Western Australia - Glossary Term

Mission (1829? - )


A mission as defined by the Macquarie Dictionary is 'a group of people of a particular religious faith who travel, usually to another country or region, with the purpose of converting other people to their faith, sometimes also setting up facilities such as schools, hospitals, etc.'


In testimony given to the Roth Royal Commission in 1905, then Chief Protector of Aborigines Henry Prinsep said that the object of the missions was to 'train up children who would otherwise become vagrants, and make them useful as domestic and farm servants.' Commissioner Roth asked Prinsep, to give his opinion on 'the future of such half-caste children if left to their own devices, under the present state of the law?' Prinsep answered, 'Vagabondism and harlotry.'

The Roth commission also interviewed Father Nicholas Emo, former Superior at Beagle Bay Mission and parish priest at Broome. When asked what should happen to the Aboriginal children, Nicholas answered that they: 'ought to be sent to mission schools (where there are Sisters or Matrons), while the half-castes should be sent to reformatories. The half-caste girls, in my opinion, are in general of a very vicious temperament.'


Online Resources

Prepared by: Debra Rosser