The Nepabunna Mission was established by the United Aborigines' Mission (UAM) in north-east South Australia in 1931. The Missionaries assisted with housing, schooling, health and other facilities at the Mission. A dormitory for Aboriginal children was constructed at Nepabunna early in the 1940s but was not used for several years. The State Government took control of the Mission from the UAM in 1973 and in 1977 Nepabunna was handed back to the local Indigenous people.
The Nepabunna Mission was established by the United Aborigines' Mission (UAM) on 20 square miles of donated land on the Balcoona Station in 1931 in the north east of South Australia. In the late 1920s the UAM had begun searching for a permanent Home for the Aboriginal people of the area, collectively known as the Adnyamathanha. They had been displaced by colonisation in the 1850s.
The Missionaries assisted with housing, schooling, health and other facilities at the Mission. A school building was established in the 1930s which was also used for church services.
Protector's reports show that a dormitory for Aboriginal children was constructed at Nepabunna early in the 1940s. However, due to the lack of a matron to oversee its use the dormitory had still not come into operation in 1948. At some time after 1948 a dormitory was used for children whose parents were working away from the Mission. An education Department school was built in 1963.
The Government took control of the Mission from the UAM in 1973 and four years later in 1977 Nepabunna was handed back to the Adnyamathanha people.
In 2021, the South Australian government has agreed to be a funder of last resort for this institution. This means that although the institution is now defunct, it is participating in the National Redress Scheme, and the government has agreed to pay the institution's share of costs of providing redress to a person (as long as the government is found to be equally responsible for the abuse a person experienced).
Sources used to compile this entry: 'Nepabunna - South Australia, past and present, for the future', in SA Memory, 2009, http://www.samemory.sa.gov.au/site/page.cfm?u=1303; Hampton, Ken and Christobel Mattingley, Survival in our own land: 'Aboriginal' experiences in 'South Australia' since 1836, Wakefield Press, Adelaide, 1988; Spencer, Tracey, The Story of Rebecca Forbes: she came to marry an Aboriginal man, Lateline - TV Program Transcript, Australian Broadcasting Corporation, 22 September 2003. Also available at https://web.archive.org/web/20160731094028/http://www.abc.net.au/lateline/content/2003/hc37.htm.
Prepared by: Gary George
Created: 15 May 2014, Last modified: 7 December 2021