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Queensland - Organisation

Palm Island Aboriginal Settlement (1918 - 1975)

1 April 1918
Government-run, Home and Industrial School
Alternative Names
  • Palm Island Dormitory (Also known as)

The Palm Island Aboriginal Settlement was run by the Queensland Government. It was gazetted as an Aboriginal Reserve in 1914 but was not properly established until 1918. In 1922 an Industrial School license was issued and the island's children were rounded up and confined in segregated dormitories. The dormitories closed in 1975 but it was not until 1985 that the Queensland Government handed control of Palm Island to a Community Council via a Deed of Grant in Trust (DOGIT).


Palm Island is situated 65 kilometres north east of Townsville, in the Palm Island Group. It was proclaimed an Aboriginal Reserve in 1914. In 1922 Palm Island was licensed as an Industrial School.

In 1923 the Lucinda Point boatshed was relocated and converted into a girls' quarters. A new larger girls' quarters was ready for occupation in early 1928 along with a dormitory for babies and young mothers.

According to reports in the 1930s, both the girls and boys dormitories were sub-standard in both condition and bed capacity. This led to the erection of new dormitories in the late 1930s and early 1940s.

In 1962 a new boys' dormitory that accommodated 40 boys was completed and a larger girl's home opened in 1965. Around 71 children were housed in dormitories in 1966.

A report from the Government Liaison Officer in 1971 highlighted the fact that of all the children admitted into the dormitory system, the majority were sent by the Children's Services Department. Additionally, the number of children admitted through the Children's Services Department was on the incline.

Due to changing ideas related to the care of young people, by 1975 only 27 children were housed in the dormitories on Palm Island. On 5 December 1975 the dormitories oficially closed.

Palm Island Dormitory was mentioned in the Bringing Them Home Report (1997) as an institution that housed Indigenous children removed from their families.


1918 - 1975
Location - Palm Island Aboriginal Settlement was situated in the Palm Island Group. Location: Palm Island Group


Online Resources

Sources used to compile this entry: 'Palm Island Aboriginal Settlement (ID 76)', in Queensland State Archives website, Queensland Government, 2004 - 2013,; Department of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders and Multicultural Affairs report on licensed Mission dormitories for the Queensland Redress Scheme (2009).

Prepared by: Lee Butterworth