Background to Jasper Jones

Setting the scene – Australia pre 1960s
"I have heard men of
culture and refinement, of
the greatest humanity and
kindness to their fellow
whites, not only of
the wholesale butchery
...but of the individual
murder of natives, exactly
as they would talk of a
day’s sport, or of having to
kill some troublesome
British High Commissioner Arthur
Gordon, April 1883
 Inhuman treatment
 Followed by protectionist ideas to deal with Aboriginal
But, manipulated to suit needs of white settler society
Rounded up, confined on reserves and missions
Used as cheap labour source
Protection policies converted to ‘policies of controlled
Federation 1901 gave control of Aboriginal and Torres
Strait Islander Affairs to individual states
“Protection” varied widely
Eugenic programs
Heavy focus on children
 Post WWII Nazi policies had made eugenicist ideas ‘distasteful’
 New assimilationist agenda
 Lift Aborigines from state of backwardness into civilised ways of
white men
 Not a great deal changed, still denied basic rights non-indigenous
Australians took for granted
 Difficult situation – whilst laws differed from state to state, themes of
persecution, oppression and discrimination were the same
 The Federal Council for Aboriginal Advancement (FCAA) offered the
following summary of this complex and bleak situation:
 “... the position in 1963 is that an Aboriginal or part-Aboriginal person
may be in a position where he is allowed to drink alcohol in one State,
but not in another; he may be forced to vote in State elections in one
State, but prohibited from voting in another; he may move freely in
one State, but not in another; he may be free to marry whom he
desires in one State, but not in another; he may mix freely with nonAborigines in one State, but not in another; he may have full rights in
a court of law in one State, but not in another; and so on.”
 By 1967, eve of Aboriginal referendum, many of these discriminations
had been removed from policies, however, prejudice remained
 Extreme poverty
 Lack of basic services
 Poor housing
 Ill-health
 Relentless surveillance,
control and intervention
by state and church
 Infant mortality high
 Life expectancy low
 Few able to obtain a
decent education
 First recorded removal 1833
 First legalisation: Industrial Schools Act 1874
 Any Indigenous child ‘surrendered’ to an institution could be detained
there without parental consent or contracted to employment after the
age of 12 until the child reached 21
 Aborigines Act 1905
 Assessment of ‘behaviour’
now incorporated
 Can an individual be
defined as Aboriginal or
 Chief Protector of Aborigines was legal guardian of every child, had
power to remove ‘half-caste’ children to a home or mission
 By early 1950s removal had to go through Child Welfare courts, but
these practices continued into the 1970s
 In 1948 a policy of legal racial
segregation, known as
apartheid, is enforced by the
National Party government
of South Africa until 1994.
 In Australia, segregation is
imposed unofficially in
public places such as
theatres and swimming
 Idea of segregation based
upon idea of ‘difference’ and
needing to contain this
 1947 Massive assisted
British immigration
 'It is my hope that for every
foreign migrant there will
be ten people from the
United Kingdom.'
Arthur Calwell, Minister for
Immigration, 1946.
 Ten pound Pom
 1973 'White Australia'
policy officially ends,
policy of multiculturalism
 Ten pound Pom not enough
 Migration important for securing our
borders and protection
 1947 – Threw open doors to refugees
from Baltic countries as well
 Much suspicion of these arrivals –
had ‘no culture’ and may not be able
to ‘assimilate’ into the country, BUT
 1948 – After Holocaust though,
countries sought to dismantle
discriminatory immigration policies
and introduce bills of rights
 By 1950s – Citizenship ceremonies
being embraced by locals and new
migrants beginning to be welcomed
 Became involved 1962
 World divided between
nations that were
communist and those that
were not
Communism believed to be
a real threat to capitalist
societies like USA and
China – 1949
North Korea – 1950
Now Vietnam?
Increasingly look to USA to
contain communism in
this part of the world
 47, 000 Australian men and a large
number of women served there
 Debate around involvement in Vietnam
from day one
 Nation grew more divided between the
anti-war movement and government
supporters over time
 Anti-war movement strongly connected
to protests against conscription
 Controversial issue during WWI and
since then
 Birth date lottery to serve for a period of
two years
 Men had 1 in 10 chance
 Creation of ‘conscientious objection’ to
 Consequence could be a jail sentence of
up to two years
 Anti-war movement became more
extreme after 1966 Liberal election win
 1955 – 68 Civil Rights movements in UK and USA
influence Aboriginal political activism
 1965 – Charles Perkins leads a 'freedom ride' by
Aboriginal people and non- Aboriginal students
through New South Wales in support of Aboriginal
 Violent actions against Indigenous people puts Australia
on the defensive for the first time in regards to
Aboriginal policy, draws comparisons with Jim Crow
laws in Southern USA
 1967 – National referendum gives Commonwealth
power to make and override state laws for Aboriginals
and to count them in the national census.
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