State of Western Australia
The Department of Aborigines and Fisheries in Western Australia was created in 1909 by the amalgamation of the Aborigines Department and the Fisheries Department. The head of the Department, the Chief Protector of Aborigines, was the legal guardian of every Aboriginal child in Western Australia, as stipulated in the Aborigines Act 1905. In 1920, the Department of Aborigines and Fisheries was replaced by the Fisheries Department, for Aboriginal matters below latitude 25 degrees, and the Department of the North West.
The Department of Aborigines and Fisheries was created on 1 January 1909 and administered the Aborigines Act 1905. The State Records Office website provides an overview of the Department:
In 1909, the Aborigines and Fisheries Departments were amalgamated into one agency, the Department of Aborigines and Fisheries. This was partly due to financial constraints and partly due to the expediency of running as one the two departments whose interests lay mainly in the northern part of the State. After World War I, the Department was abolished and its functions pertaining to Aboriginal affairs south of the 25th parallel, as well as to fisheries throughout the State, were taken over by the Fisheries Department. Charles Frederick Gale was appointed the second Chief Protector of Aborigines on 1 October 1908. He undertook this position together with that of the Chief Inspector of Fisheries. In 1911, Frederick Aldrich was appointed Chief Inspector of Fisheries and Gale's duties were limited to that of Chief Protector of Aborigines. Gale was dismissed from office in 1915 at an age of 54, ostensibly as an 'excess officer' and was vindicated by a Royal Commission appointed to inquire into his dismissal. Auber Octavius Neville (Secretary of the Immigration Department since 1911) was appointed as Gale's successor on 7 May 1915.
The appointment of Rufus H. Underwood MLA as Minister for Aborigines in November 1914 had a direct impact on the funds available to north-west missions. He was elected to represent the Pilbara for the Australian Labor Party in 1906 and was critical of the effectiveness of missionsin the Kimberley, removing their subsidies in December 1914. In the the south of the State, missions for children continued to receive funding.
On 1 January 1920, the Department of Aborigines and Fisheries ceased and was replaced by the Fisheries Department (for Aboriginal matters below latitude 25 degrees) and the Department of the North West, for Aboriginal matters above latitude 25.
1887 - 1890 Aborigines Protection Board
1890 - 1898 Aborigines Protection Board
1898 - 1908 Aborigines Department
1909 - 1920 Department of Aborigines and Fisheries
1920 - 1926 Department of the North West
1920 - 1964 Fisheries Department
1926 - 1936 Aborigines Department
1926 - 1936 Aborigines Department
1936 - 1954 Department of Native Affairs
1955 - 1972 Department of Native Welfare
1972 - 1985 Department for Community Welfare
1972 - 1994 Aboriginal Affairs Planning Authority
1985 - 1992 Department for Community Services
1994 - 2001 Aboriginal Affairs Department
1992 - 1995 Department for Community Development
2001 - 2013 Department of Indigenous Affairs
1995 - 2001 Department for Family and Children's Services
2013 - 2017 Department of Aboriginal Affairs
2001 - 2007 Department for Community Development
2007 - 2013 Department for Communities
2007 - 2013 Department for Child Protection
2013 - 2017 Department of Local Government and Communities
2013 - 2017 Department for Child Protection and Family Support
2017 - Child Protection and Family Support
2017 - Department of Local Government, Sport and Cultural Industries
Sources used to compile this entry: 'AU WA A66 - Department of Aborigines and Fisheries', in State Records Office of Western Australia - Organisations & People, State Records Office of Western Australia, 2015, https://archive.sro.wa.gov.au/index.php/department-of-aborigines-and-fisheries-au-wa-a66; Jacobs, Pat, Mister Neville: a biography, Fremantle Arts Centre Press, Fremantle, 1990. pp.60-61.; Longworth, Alison, Was it worthwhile?, An historical analysis of five women missionaries and their encounters with the Nyungar people of south-west Australia, Murdoch University, Murdoch, Western Australia, 2005, http://researchrepository.murdoch.edu.au/163/2/02Whole.pdf. pp.185, 189-191.; Tilbrook, Lois, Nyungar Tradition : glimpses of Aborigines of south-western Australia 1829-1914, Online version published by the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies in 2007, University of Western Australia Press, 1983, http://aiatsis.gov.au/sites/default/files/catalogue_resources/m0022954.pdf.
Prepared by: Debra Rosser
Created: 27 June 2011, Last modified: 29 October 2015