'Taken young and properly trained': A critique of the motives for the removal of Queensland Aboriginal children and British migrant children to Australia from their families, 1901-1939

Spurling, Helen Jennifer (2003). 'Taken young and properly trained': A critique of the motives for the removal of Queensland Aboriginal children and British migrant children to Australia from their families, 1901-1939 PhD Thesis, School of History, Philosophy, Religion, and Classics, The University of Queensland.

       
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Author Spurling, Helen Jennifer
Thesis Title 'Taken young and properly trained': A critique of the motives for the removal of Queensland Aboriginal children and British migrant children to Australia from their families, 1901-1939
School, Centre or Institute School of History, Philosophy, Religion, and Classics
Institution The University of Queensland
Publication date 2003-12-02
Thesis type PhD Thesis
Supervisor Prof Kay Saunders
A/Prof Clive Moore
Total pages 364
Collection year 2003
Language eng
Subjects 210301 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander History
370502 Migration
Formatted abstract
This thesis explores the motives for the removal of Aboriginal children from their families in Queensland, and for child migration schemes from Britain to Australia, between 1901 and 1939. It is a comparative study that examines the convergence of two examples of child removal policy in twentieth century Australian and, to a lesser degree, British history. Child migrants were sent principally to Western Australia, New South Wales and Victoria and research for this thesis has focused on these States. Queensland is the focus for Aboriginal removal policies because each State had its own legislation regarding indigenous issues and only recent research has been conducted about the removal of children in Queensland. There were various comparable motivations precipitating removal policies in the examples of child migration and Aboriginal children in Queensland, and an examination of the forces shaping these policies provides a valuable insight into the social and political context of Australia in this period.

By examining the factors that underpinned these child removal policies, research for this thesis was directed at the policy makers and the individuals who instigated child migration schemes or Aboriginal child removal policies. An understanding of their rationale was evident, for example, in policy documents and correspondence, and records such as these have been largely retained. The principal sources of material were found in archives in Australia and in England. Other sources were also examined, including printed government sources and contemporary assessments of the removal of children from their families in the form of newspapers and books.

This thesis will conclude that the motives for the removal of Aboriginal children and British migrant children from their families were driven more by pervasive contemporary social concerns, rather than as responsive humanitarian concern for the welfare of particular children. Humanitarian effort, while present, was overshadowed by desires to protect and sustain a purely 'white' Australia, to fulfill the demand for cheap labour, to enact the 'rescue and reform' of children, thus countering the perceived corrupting effects of poverty.

The nature of this study makes a contribution to future analyses of the history of child welfare policies in Australia. This thesis offers additional research to an area that has received minimal academic attention. It also seeks to encourage the critique of child welfare policies from an interpretative perspective, where the reader is encouraged to critically reflect upon the impact of social norms. Finally, it is hoped that this thesis presents a nuanced analysis of child removal policies, particularly as the nature of these historical events have been seized in recent years by the forces of political controversy.
Keyword Children, Aboriginal Australian -- Queensland -- Government relations -- History.
Child welfare -- Queensland -- History.
Children, Aboriginal Australian -- Institutional care -- History.
Immigrant children -- Institutional care -- Australia -- History.
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Document type: Thesis
Collection: UQ Theses (RHD) - UQ staff and students only
 
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Created: Mon, 14 Dec 2009, 14:30:11 EST by Miss Stephanie Wright on behalf of Social Sciences and Humanities Library Service