According to Bill Day, the Bagot Aboriginal Reserve was established 'to control and manage the increasing drift of Aboriginal people to Darwin from remote settlements, and to provide training in accordance with the prevailing policy of assimilation'. It was situated on 23 hectares of land next to the Ludmilla Creek, close to the sea.
Residents of the Kahlin Aboriginal Compound were moved to the new Bagot reserve in 1938 and Kahlin subsequently closed. Bagot Aboriginal Reserve, like Kahlin, segregated Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people from the rest of the population of Darwin.
Residents of Bagot Reserve were also segregated from each other on the basis of race. There was a fence to separate the 'half-caste' and 'native' communities from each other. By 1946, the Retta Dixon Home had been established on a site at the corner of the Bagot Reserve.
According to Barbara Cummings (1990), children removed from the community had been indoctrinated by missionaries: 'Many of these people were our countrymen, our grandmothers, cousins, brothers and sisters, some of whom came into the Home to work in the laundry or to chop wood. They were our kin and yet we were prevented from even talking to them' (p.84).
During World War Two, some residents of Bagot Aboriginal Reserve were evacuated to a camp at Berrimah after the 119 Australian General Hospital took over the compound at Christmas in 1940. Approximately 200 people were moved from Berrimah Native Compound back to Bagot in 1951 (Northern Standard, 12 January 1951).
After Darwin was declared a town in 1959, Bagot Aboriginal Reserve became a political football. Calls for the reserve to be relocated and Bagot to be converted into a 'normal' suburb were unsuccessful. In 1979 the reserve was vested to an incorporated Aboriginal community council to become a self-governing community.
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27 November 2020
Cite this: http://www.findandconnect.gov.au/guide/nt/YE00306
First published by the Find & Connect Web Resource Project for the Commonwealth of Australia, 2011
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