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Queensland - Concept

Protector of Aboriginals (Female) (1897 - 1933)

Glossary Term
Alternative Names
  • Female Protector of Aboriginals (Also known as)
  • Protectress of Aboriginals (Also known as)

The role of Protector of Aboriginals (Female) was created under the Aboriginal Protection and Restriction of the Sale of Opium Act 1897, s. 16. The Female Protector monitored the employment of Aboriginal girls and women, inspecting work conditions and ensuring wages were duly paid. The girls were only given pocket money, while the remainder of their wages was banked in personal accounts by the protectress. The contents of personal bank accounts were made available to the girls if they married or left work to live on the government settlements.


The first appointment to the role of Protector of Aborigines (Female) was in 1899. Frances Meston (the wife of Archibald Meston, Southern Protector of Aborigines) also managed the Aboriginal Girls Home in West End. The Protectress supervised girls sent to work as domestics in and around Brisbane.

Mrs Meston was succeeded by Mary Easter Frew on 2 February 1900. On 25 March 1904 Mary Frew was appointed Superintendent of the Aboriginal Girls Home. Following complaints made by the girls, a full enqujiry determined that Frew had misappropriated funds belonging to Aboriginal workers. She resigned in May 1905.

The last Protector of Aboriginals (Female) resigned in 1933. A report on the Office of the Chief Protector of Aboriginals conducted in 1932, called for the position of Female Protector to be abolished. The duties of the Female Protector were handed over to the female officers of the accounts branch of the Chief Protector's Office and the responsibility of inspecting Aboriginal girls in employment was transferred to the Inspector of the State Childrens Department.

Prepared by: Lee Butterworth