The Moore River Native Settlement was established by the government of Western Australia in 1918. Aboriginal children of all ages from all over the State were placed there. In 1951, the government transferred management to the Methodist Overseas Mission who opened Mogumber on the same site.
The Moore River Native Settlement was established by the Government of Western Australia in 1918. The 'Aborigines Act 1905' enabled children who were 'classified as Aboriginal' to be sent there, involuntarily, from all over the State.
The children and young people at Moore River were under the guardianship of the heads of the government departments responsible for Aboriginal welfare.
Over-crowding, disease and 'grossly inadequate health and sanitary facilities' persisted at Moore River throughout its existence. In 2018, research by the Aboriginal History WA unit showed that most of the 374 people who died at Moore River were children and many succumbed to treatable respiratory and infectious diseases.
Escapes were common, particularly among children trying to get back to family. In 1923, a corrugated iron punishment shed, known as 'the Boob' was built at Moore River.
In 1949, the school at Moore River closed and school-age children were transferred to other missions according to their religious denominations.
On 18 August 1951, the Moore River Native Settlement was closed and was handed over 'in toto' by the Department of Native Affairs to the Methodist Overseas Mission. It reopened as Mogumber, under the management of the Methodist Overseas Mission.
The death rate at Moore River reduced markedly after the government ceded control to the Mogumber Methodist Mission.
In 1974, the lands were transferred to the Aboriginal Lands Trust of WA.
Moore River Native Settlement was mentioned in the Bringing Them Home Report (1997) as an institution that housed Indigenous children removed from their families.
Sources used to compile this entry: 'Testimonies of Sam Dinah, Michael Hannah, Joan Saylor', Stolen Generations' Testimonies, Stolen Generations' Testimonies Foundation, 2009, http://www.stolengenerationstestimonies.com/; 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.298-299.; Perpitch, Nicolas, 'A journey into 'hell on Earth'', in ABC News online, Australian Broadcasting Corporation, 2018, http://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-05-26/moore-river-aboriginal-settlement-journey-into-hell-on-earth/9790658; State Solicitor's Office of Western Australia, 'pp.89-90', Guide to Institutions Attended by Aboriginal People in Western Australia, Government of Western Australia, 2005, http://web.archive.org/web/20140126131607/http://www.dpc.wa.gov.au/lantu/MediaPublications/Documents/Guide-to-Institutions-attended-by-Aboriginal-people-in-WA-2005.pdf; 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. pp.119, 183.; 'Western Australia Protectors Reports 1899-1959', in To Remove and Protect: Aboriginal Lives Under Control [website], Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies, National Library of Australia, http://aiatsis.gov.au/collections/collections-online/digitised-collections/remove-and-protect/western-australia. Annual Report of the Commissioner of Native Welfare 1959 p.8..
Prepared by: Debra Rosser
Created: 5 March 2013, Last modified: 12 November 2018