Please note: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people should be aware that this website may contain images, voices or names of deceased persons in photographs, film, audio recordings or printed material.
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The Remembering the Mission Days: Stories from the Aborigines’ Inland Mission exhibition concentrates on the Aborigines’ Inland Mission and its influence over Aboriginal people from 1905 to 1966, as well as the government regulations controlling Indigenous Australians during that period.
This exhibition is dedicated to the memory of Shirley Ann (Knight) Williams 12.5.1947 – 28.10.2010. Shirley was a much loved AIATSIS staff member who contributed to the digitisation of the Mission journals and to AIATSIS in many other ways.
The Our Aim and Evangel newsletters are written from the point of view of Evangelical missionaries. The experiences written in these newsletters are from an Evangelical missionary perspective and, at times the writing questions or dispels some of the rudimentary understandings and viewpoints by others on the capacity of the ‘Aborigine’.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people should be aware that this exhibition contains images, voices and names of deceased persons in photographs, film, audio recordings and printed material. Where possible, names of Aboriginal people have been removed throughout the exhibition however they are still a part of the Our AIM and Australian Evangel newsletters.
Some material contains terms that reflect the authors’ views, or those of the period in which the item was written, and are not considered appropriate today. These views are not the views of AIATSIS. While the information may not reflect current understanding, it is provided in an historical context.
The newsletters published by the Aborigines’ Inland Mission, AIM and Evangel, are just one example of the propaganda created to control mainly Aboriginal people when they were either forced or moved to live on missions and reserves. Publications of this type were not limited to evangelical or even to religious organisations, they were also widespread through all levels of governments as well as at a community level.
The readership between the AIM and Evangel newsletters differed greatly. AIM was targeted towards evangelical Europeans living in Australia, promoting the Aborigines’ Inland Mission’s work within mainly Aboriginal communities. Evangel was written directly to mainly Aboriginal people to promote the benefits of an evangelical Christian belief system.
The history of Australia’s various state protection laws, and the history of the Aborigines’ Inland Mission, begins in London in 1837, when a Parliamentary Select Committee presented a Report on Aboriginal Tribes to the House of Commons, Parliament.
The Report on Aboriginal Tribes presented findings on the wellbeing of all Indigenous peoples in British colonies, and included chapters on New Holland (Australia) and Van Diemen’s Land (Tasmania). The Suggestions chapter recommended that:
As well as the beginning of Australia’s state protection laws, the Report on Aboriginal Tribes marked the beginning of the involvement of Christian churches in missionary work to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.
"It appears that not a single native now remains on Van Diemen’s Land. Thus nearly, has the event been accomplished which was thus predicted and deprecated by Sir G. Murray “The great decrease which has of late years taken place in the amount of the Aboriginal population, render it not unreasonable to apprehend that the whole race of these people may, at no distant period, become extinct. But with whatever feelings such an event may be looked forward to by those of the settlers who have been suffered by the collisions which have taken place, it is impossible not to contemplate such a result of our occupation of the island as one very difficult to be reconciled with feelings of humanity, or even with principles of justice and sound policy; and with the adoption of any line of conduct, having for its avowed, or for its secret object, the extinction of the Native race, could not fail to leave an indelible stain upon the character of the British Government.”
– Van Diemen’s Land, Report of the Parliamentary Select Committee on Aboriginal Tribes, House of Commons, Parliament, Great Britan, 1837
Not long after the British began establishing colonies in Australia, there were growing concerns in some parts of the community about the fate of Aboriginal people who, it was assumed, were dying out. From the late 1700s, Aboriginal reserves were created as a political response to the dispossession of Aboriginal people from their land.
The first attempt to control the ‘dying’ population came with the creation of the Aboriginal Protectorate under George Augustus Robinson on Bruny Island in Tasmania in 1829. This scheme inspired Aboriginal protectors in different regions to liaise between the settlers and the Aboriginal population.
The Aborigines Protection Act (Vic) 1869 established an Aborigines Protection Board in Victoria to manage the interests of Aborigines. The governor could order the removal of any child from their family to a reformatory or industrial school.
The NSW Aboriginal Protection Board was created in 1883 to look after the welfare of Aboriginal people and provide grants of land for them to live on. This represented a new phase of control over Aboriginal people’s lives in NSW. The appointment of the protector and his recommendations for reserves were influenced by the high visibility of Aboriginal people living and camping at Circular Quay and La Perouse, close to Sydney.
The Aboriginal Protection and Restriction of the Sale of Opium Act (Qld) 1897 allowed the Chief Protector to remove local Aboriginal people onto and between reserves and hold children in dormitories. The Director of Native Welfare was the legal guardian of all ‘aboriginal’ children until 1965 whether their parents were living or not.
On 1 January 1901, the Australian Constitution came into effect, establishing the Commonwealth of Australia. There were two references to Aboriginal people contained in the Australian Constitution of 1901. Firstly, section 51 of the Constitution outlined the law-making powers of the Commonwealth of Australia. Section 51 (xxvi) gave the Commonwealth power to make laws with respect to ‘people of any race, other than the Aboriginal race in any state, for whom it was deemed necessary to make special laws.’ Secondly, section 127 of the Constitution provided that ‘in reckoning the numbers of people of the Commonwealth, or of a State or other part of the Commonwealth, aboriginal natives shall not be counted’. The colonies (States and Territories) remained responsible for the welfare of Aboriginal people.
The Aborigines Act (WA) 1905 is passed. Under this law, the Chief Protector is made the legal guardian of every Aboriginal and ‘half-caste’ child under sixteen years old.
Although the NSW Aboriginal Protection Board existed from 1883, it was not until 1909 that its work was supported by legislation. The Aborigines Protection Act 1909 (the Act) gave the NSW Aboriginal Protection Board 'the authority for the protection and care of Aborigines' and to assume full control and custody of the child of any Aboriginal people if a court found the child to be neglected under the Neglected Children and Juvenile Offenders Act (NSW) 1905. The Aborigines Protection Amending Act (NSW) 1915 gave power to the Aboriginal Protection Board to separate Aboriginal children from their families without having to establish in court that they were neglected.
Station managers now tightly controlled reserves and particularly, who entered and who left them. The Act vested all Aboriginal reserves to the NSW Aboriginal Protection Board, and made it illegal for any person other than station managers, those authorised by the NSW Aboriginal Protection Board, or those people defined as Aboriginal, to enter reserves for any purpose.
The Act also gave the NSW Aboriginal Protection Board the power to remove Aboriginal people from reserves, and from camping 'within or near any reserve, town or township'. Admission to the reserves was based on the appearance of Aboriginality.
Aboriginal people in the Northern Territory came under Commonwealth jurisdiction after the administration of the Northern Territory was transferred from South Australia to the Australian Government by the Northern Territory Acceptance Act 1910 and Northern Territory (Administration) Act 1910.
The Aboriginals Ordinance 1911 placed Aborigines in the Northern Territory under the direction of a Protector who under section 3 (1) of the Act was given power to ‘undertake the care, custody, or control of any aboriginal or half-caste’, and, the Aborigines Act (SA) 1911 similarly provided for the ‘protection’ of Aboriginal people.
"The Census and Statistics Act 1905 established the Australian Government Bureau of Census and Statistics. The act made no reference to Aboriginal people, but the bureau needed to define ‘aboriginal natives’ when census taking. The Attorney-General gave the opinion that ‘half-castes are not Aboriginal within the meaning of section 127 of the Australian Constitution, and should therefore be included’. For the first Australian Government census held in 1911, the interpretation of ‘shall not be counted’ as well as the decision as to who was a ‘half-caste’ was left to the bureau."– Census and Statistics Act 1905
Broadly speaking, there were three types of spaces formally set aside by the government specifically for Aboriginal people to live on:
The Aborigines’ Inland Mission (AIM) was an evangelical Christian mission which began in 1905. AIM’s first location was in Singleton, New South Wales (NSW), but missionaries quickly established locations close to many Aboriginal reserves across Australia.
AIM avoided involvement in institutions that took children from their parents. AIM's sole concern was salvation, and helping those 'eager to read God's word' to learn to read – not to 'civilize the native'.
AIM’s action in NSW was distinctive because its missionaries were mostly female. AIM’s missionaries were sent to live by themselves among people who had settled in reserves and maintained as much as possible a sense of community.
The quotes in this section illustrate the evolving attitude of AIM missionaries toward both the Aboriginal people in their ministry and European Australians throughout the period which Our Aim and Australian Evangel were published.
Having heard the Macedonian cry from West Australia, and being pressed in spirit by the appalling need of the 100,000 Aborigines who sit in darkness in that great unoccupied field, we have determined, in the name of the Lord, to rise up and immediately enter the open door. A missionary will go forward almost at once to investigate, to be followed later by a band of missionaries and native helpers.
Where is the Australian Black to-night?
The child of God’s tender care?
Why turn from him and shun his sight?
Nay, kneel for thy brother in prayer.
Oh, where is the Native to-night?
Oh, where is the Native to-night?
My heart o’erflows, for God loves him and knows;
Oh, where is the Native to-night?
Once he was free as a bird of air,
He roamed the bush so wide;
Now whites possess his country fair,
And few are on his side.
Oh, could I see him now, the Black,
And speak of Jesus’ love;
Teach the Bible’s precious love,
And raise his hopes above.
Go search for the wandering Black to-night,
Go look for him where you will;
But bring him to Christ with all his blight,
And tell him He loves him still.
Australian evangelical hymn – J S Gribble
A man and his wife gave Mr Long two spears and a womera, while another presented him with a very nice boomerang. These spontaneous actions on the part of the people, showing their appreciation, were a source of great satisfaction to Mr and Mrs Robarts, as well as a pleasure to the recipient.
“Think for a moment! If the glorious gospel of the grace of god had not been preached to the aborigines of the British Isles, and had not penetrated their hearts with vivifying power, might they not still have remained in the state described by the eloquent Cicero in one of his letters to his friend Atticus, the Roman orator? For he says: “Do not obtain your slaves from Britain, because they are so stupid and utterly incapable of being taught that they are not fit to form a part of the household of Atticus!”
After a couple of calls and dinner, I set off for the camp, where there was no doubt as to my welcome. The first person I saw, a dear woman, who hardly knew whether to laugh or cry, stand up or sit down, she was so pleased. One little chap directly he saw me simply flew for his mother, and the next minute she and her daughter were running down the track to meet me. I really thought they were going to hug me.
On the 13th of March we held a very impressive service, when nearly all on “Erambie” gathered into the church to witness the unveiling of Mr Long’s photo. There was a solemn hush as our native helper, Mr L----- C--, drew aside the curtain and all looked upon the face of their departed friend. After a few minutes silence, Mr C-- spoke very feelingly of what Mr Long had been to him, and referred back to the past when Mr Long had first come amongst them and told them of the love of God in Christ Jesus, and had it not been that Mr Long had cared for their souls and sent missionaries to them, some might even now be living in sin. He praised God for giving them such a friend.
Christmas was coming, and a visit from the Governor was expected on one of the mission stations… She wanted a picture of Jesus; so came and asked for one, and as soon as possible we went to see her handiwork, taking with us a lovely big picture of Jesus…
…She told the missionary that someone had asked her to come back to the old ways, but Lizzie knew those old ways were sins, and with a glaring face she said, "Jesus must have tight hold of me, cause when I was asked to go back again it made cold shivers go right down my back. Jesus, He must have tight hold of me, and got hold of me in the right place, too!"
We were very sorry to hear just at Christmas time very sad news from some of our cousins. H---- S------- and his wife at Bulgandramine lost their dear little baby the Sunday before Christmas. She was just ten months old. Her dear mother says: "We have had a lot of trouble. The Lord has taken our darling little baby girl to heaven to be with Him. She had a hard time, and it was hard for us, but the Lord tries the hearts of those who trust Him. We don't feel worried, only sad, for we know our darling little babe is safe in the arms of Jesus."
TO MY COUSINS TAB AND WIDE
Do you give an offering on your mission station on Sunday morning. It would be nice to start now and help in the work in this way now that the white people have so little to give. It will please the Lord Jesus. The word of God says “THE LORD LOVETH A CHEEERFUL GIVER,” and when you give to His work, and it is wonderful that the more you give the more you have to give.
One of our women at Cowra, lately converted, who has been a great gambler, says:—"I was wanting 2/- and thought to myself, go back and have a gamble and you will soon win 2/- [2 shillings]." but something said to me No don't do that, go and pray.' so I did not go near the gamblers and haven't since I got converted. Coming down the town I met an old friend, who said. There is 4/- [4 shillings] to buy something for your little girls' (her granddaughters), so you see God gave me that 4/- [4 shillings]" Lovely wasn't it?
Dear Mrs. Long,
I am sorry I haven't written to you sooner, but I keep putting it off, as I have not been too well. The Lord has been very wonderful to us, and we are still fighting on. I think it would be nice if you could manage to send a missionary along if it is only for a little while, to help us, as the people have not been attending the church too well lately.
I was speaking to the children about night and morning, and they said they never say their prayers. One woman said a short while ago a little girl from Plannett Downs stayed with them and, morning and night, she knelt and prayed. It is 10 months ago now since that family went there to work, and B------promised me she would never forget to pray and to try and read her Testament each day. She cannot read very well. It was lovely to know that she had not forgotten her Father in heaven, and to know that other people had noticed this little girl shining for Jesus.
I would like to tell you something of what the Lord has done for me. Three months ago I was taken very ill and given up by the doctor and the nurse. I was several times near the gates of death but God in His love and mercy raised me up in answer to prayer. I praise Him and give Him all the glory. By His grace I mean to follow and serve Him all my days.
Yours in Christ's love.
Dear Young Cousins,
There was a little note on the bottom of one of the answers I received for the January Competition that made me think about all the boys and girls who are Cousins on this page. It was from a little girl up in Queensland. She is only nine years old but she wrote, "/ have given my heart to the Lord Jesus to-day." I was so glad to hear it because I know that little girl. Her father and mother will be glad too, because they are both Christians. Now I am wondering how many of you have given your hearts to the Lord Jesus.
…That Mr. D----- F-------, Native Worker at Dennawan has bought a bike to help him in his work in that district. Their new church is steadily progressing and will soon be finished.
That the Palm Island folk have been helping with their church both in the actual building of it and by giving coral, baskets, walking sticks etc., which have been sold to visitors to the Island and the money put towards buying timber for the framework.
Bulgoo Station. Quilpie, QLD.
Dear Cousin Evangel,
I want to enter for this month's competitions as we got our dear little "Evangel'' much earlier. I am glad to get the little paper, and also Mum and Dad. It broke Mum up when she read about those two dear little coffins stood side by side. I would like you to put my letter in the little book so as I can keep the "Evangel." We have a lot kept now. Yesterday, May 4. It was four years since God called my little darling baby brother home. Would you pray for us—for mother, and daddie, myself and C---- in your church? God bless you all.
Nor was the surprise all on their side. The Lord had reserved one for me. The lady, Miss Hudson, I came in contact with at the Glenorchy lantern meeting, had a burn laid on her heart – the 260 half and quarter castes living on Cape Barron Island (as it is known, the full-blooded Aboriginal population of Tasmania became extinct in 1876). Their degraded conditions, as reported in the papers, appealed to her, and she felt called to go to them. God had drawn us together and we recognized it. I had the joy of introducing her to our AIM constituency and in affiliating her as an Associate Worker, and arranging that she be farewelled at our City monthly prayer meeting on May 24, after which she would leave for Launceston and go on to the Island.
I expect a good many of our readers have heard of the dear little Tennant Creek baby named Joseph whom Mr. and Mrs. A. Long have, been caring for almost since the day he was born and now he is about nine months old. His lovely young mother went to be with Christ just ten days after he was born. When Mrs. Long took him home they wondered sometimes if they would pull him through but the hand of the Lord was on him and now he is a lovely laughing big baby whom everybody takes to at once.
Some time ago we asked an old Aboriginal named H---- [his native name is A------) if he would make an axe-handle for us, explaining that we could not now buy one in the shops.
He returned later with a length of wood evidently intended for a handle, and a factory made axe handle as well. The latter he offered to us, with an explanation that was a little difficult to interpret. It was, briefly, that he could make a handle good enough for his own axe, but not good enough for the one belonging to us.
He had taken the handle from his own and had brought it to us! We hesitated to accept it, knowing how very little of this world's goods he possessed, but he misunderstood and seemed to think that we were not satisfied with his gift, so we accepted it with gratitude. Incidentally, we had helped this old man and his family in various ways, and this is not the first time that he has tried to help us in return.
It is often said that these people show no gratitude for anything done for them, but this is a superficial judgment. One thing is certain, they quickly discern the difference between the patronizing generosity of those who regard them simply as an inferior race, and the kindness that arises from genuine sympathy and love.
Mr. W------ M-----, better known as "P----" M-----, has gone "Home". He was a very old identity of Karuah and a real "man of God" Whom he had known for about fifty years. He was an example to all on the Reserve. Some time ago he had a stroke and could not get about much in recent years, but spent most of his time sitting or lying down, yet one never heard him complain—he was always praising God.
We had a service at his home each Tuesday and he loved us to sing and would say (when we had finished a hymn) "Good, but go on." Then he loved to hear the Word of God read. He could not read himself.
A 57 - years - old half - caste aboriginal is to be appointed a Justice of the Peace. He is R----- J----- G----- B----, Prince's Highway, Fall's Creek, seven miles south of Nowra. B---- will be appointed officially late this month. B----, a self-educated man, lives with his wife, V--- (57), in a small fibro cottage about 200 yards past the Sussex Inlet turn-off on the Prince's Highway. A father of six children, he has 22 grandchildren and one great-grandchild. His great grandfather was an Irish convict, who escaped from Goulburn and married a full-blooded aboriginal. Commenting on his appointment, B---- said: "When I was asked whether I would accept the position I jumped at it. There are many cases where halfcastes and full-bloods are being exploited, and I have never been able to help. Now perhaps I can do something."
—from "Daily Mirror"
"Miracles and Melodies" has continued its ministry over the radio throughout eastern and northern Australia. During the year we were able to release this programme on six stations, including 8DN, the new commercial station in Darwin…
…This weekly programme, featuring items and testimonies by native Christians, messages by native missionaries and others, is very acceptable to our people…
…Today most coloured folk own a radio. What better way could be used to reach the isolated camps, the droving family living in loneliness on the stock route, or the fencer on the sheep station, or of course, many homes on the reserves, camps, or in our towns in our country areas.
For some time our missionaries on Palm Island, Mr. and Mrs. E. Trezise, have had a vision of what the Lord could do on the mainland around Townsville, N.Q., and in the area north and west of this provincial city. A very thorough survey was carried out by Mr. Trezise two years ago. This revealed something of the tremendous need of our coloured folk in the north. It has been my privilege to visit this area and see for myself something of the need of the coloured people. God willing, Mr. and Mrs. Trezise will move across to Townsville in June and open the work in and around the town.
…a corroboree was held out on the grounds of the top camp where there are ninety of our needy people…
…These folk joined with the Pine Creek tribe and Manbaloo tribe…It was my privilege to be asked by the elders to make my presence known…On arrival, I nailed the board to the fork of the tree, clipped the paper on, and commenced to play the “uke” and to sing.” …many were standing and sitting in good positions where they could see and hear.
God’s message to all present was, “He loved me and gave Himself for me”…
…My native folk have a simple childlike faith. They have not had the education many other folk have had – they are backward, slow, yet can trust, accept, and experience a changed life by the power of the Lord Jesus Christ.
The lives of Aboriginal people have been the most tightly regulated in Australia. From the time Captain Cook landed on Sydney Cove in 1788, they were subject to rules and regulations aimed at controlling every aspect of their lives.
Over time, the creation of reserves or similar parcels of land were driven by different philosophies and initiated by different groups – churches, government, non-Aboriginal residents of towns or Aboriginal people themselves.
Though many Aboriginal people had little choice but to live on the reserves or in missions, they often developed very deep attachments to them and to the areas adjacent to the reserves.
Many other Aboriginal people did not live on Aboriginal missions, reserves or stations, but in towns, or in fringe camps on private property or on the outskirts of towns, on beaches and riverbanks mostly in extreme poor living conditions. Over time, many of these places across Australia became important to Aboriginal people.
The quotes in this section show how the domination of the AIM missionaries, as well as European Australian society, influenced and evolved Aboriginal culture from 1905 to 1966.
Gambling is the Gospel’s greatest foe, the Missionary’s sorest trial in Aboriginal work in New South Wales. Numbers are bound by Satan hand and foot, heart and head, in the bonds of this fascinating, venomous, demoralizing vice, who never touch the drink.
… no one, according to an Aboriginal, dies naturally, but is killed by evil magic. When a man dies the magic man is called, and he “divines” who did the deed and fixes it on a certain tribe; then that tribe is challenged to fight, and as six or seven men had to be fought over, a lot of people were involved in this fight. Nothing but the gospel can break these chains of superstition and darkness.
L B, Herberton
When we first came to Herberton we saw death in all its darkness – the people wailing, weeping, sorrowing, without hope, stealing away with the body, smoking it, and keeping it for months e’re it was put up a tree – their mode of disposing of the dead. After eighteen months under the influence of the Gospel, we have seen death lit up with the light and hope of immortality… C-------- was buried the same day, a thing unknown in past year.
All was done that love could devise and express the feelings of gratitude that swelled in their hearts towards us, who seemed to have done so little to call it forth. But this is one of those fine characteristics that we discover in the aboriginal native of our country – intense gratitude, which amounts to self-sacrificing devotion to anyone who shows them kindness – not charity, or misdirected generosity – but that brotherly kindness, that with quick intuition they detect and weigh at its intrinsic value. So that when the missionary goes amongst them with the love of Christ alone… these dear people recognise it and pour out… such kindness, that they are overwhelmed.
She [The missionary] told them about her first Christmas there. They were much smaller then, and could not remember how their fathers and mothers came home drunk and fought all night Christmas Eve. and most of Christmas Day, and how she had to take all the little girls and boys into her house, because there was no one to take care of them. "But you know," she said, "they all love Jesus now, and love you, little ones, too, and save their money to buy you nice things instead of spending it in drink. Then little Christian children have heard of you, and send you lovely presents for your Christmas tree. We must thank Jesus, and ask Him to bless poor Annie's people and send them a missionary."
When I Looked Back to the Cross. "Well, friends, I haven't got very much to say, but I just want to tell you since I have turned a Christian I have been a better man, but I got with bad company and wandered away from God. The devil was too strong for me, and I went back to lead a reckless life, then I looked back to the Cross and there I could picture Jesus suffering for my sins and I couldn't stay back and serve the devil. I had to get my sins pardoned. God has been very good to me. He spared my life, when I was sick in the Swan Hill Hospital, and I feel that He wants me to do something for Him—to win souls."
Mrs C--------, Native Worker maintains her witness for the Lord in Armidale, although the work is very difficult and the people scattered and hard to reach on foot… Mrs C-------- with the three brethren and others held an open-air meeting in the city streets – a report of which sent by Mr H W Pearson, is appended: “You will be delighted to hear that our aboriginal friends in Armidale held an open-air meeting in Beardy Street on Saturday night (12th inst.). There was a large crowd held apparently spellbound for an hour and a half… The message of the gospel was ably and faithfully delivered, and I am sure much blessing will follow. Many of our white Christians were visibly affected, for indeed it was a tremendous challenge to them and to the churches of the town.”
My Dear Young Cousins,
I am far away in the North of Australia crossing the wild country, where nobody lives and where you never see a cow or a horse or a sheep. Coming along in the train this morning I was looking out and saw a camp of little round grass huts, and wished I could get out and see the dear people who must live in them. I wonder have they ever heard of Jesus!
The most beautiful thing on the Sunday was when I went over to see the old women in King’s hut, and they were saying “sorry, sorry,” and old Queen K---- talking to R----, her daughter, gabbled something in her own language. R---- turned to me and said, “K---- says she will see you in Heaven, and King will be there too, to see you.” This was so beautiful, as we had wondered whether our old women understood. I said to myself, “Oh ye of little faith.” It seemed just a fit ending to my last Sunday at Ravenshoe.
It is commonly known that the aborigines have had many different customs. One is that of piercing the lobes of the ears, making large holes. In many places this practice has died out, but the pierced ears cannot be hidden, and when seen amongst the older ones on our camps, reminds one of the time of which they speak, when they ran wild in the bush. However, even if the custom is a thing of the past, the result of it can come in very useful.
One day P----, an elderly man, and a bright Christian, was sitting in our church listening intently to the simple message which was being given. Now, P---- has weak eyes and wears dark spectacles when walking in the sunlight. Not needing them in church, what was he to do with them when he did not possess a spectacle case? He found a way out of such a difficulty, with the result he was to be seen with his eyes fixed on the speaker, his head bent forward, which handing from one ear were his spectacles! He had put the handles through the pieced lobe!
…By the side of an old well in another part I met an old dark man with a grey beard and bushy hair. He was a real old gentleman, as so many of them are by nature, and his old wife was nearby too. I told him as best I could a little of God’s love to us. When I asked his name, he said: “My name, Pannickin.”
These are all full-blood aborigines and those who live in touch with civilization (such as it is) have two names-one for the white people to call them by, and their own proper aboriginal name. As they know so few names, they often give quite a number the same name and it is confusing to find five or six Sam’s or Mick’s or Billy’s or Charlie’s in one small camp. But they often get funny names, such as the one above, and another man was called “Melon.”…
Zoe was a sweet-faced, very shy, little dark girl, about eight years of age, her old mother’s only child and she was very precious. She loved Sunday School and attended very regularly. We knew she must be learning to love our Lord Jesus Christ. Her sweet responsive smile told us so, but she was too shy to say so.
Her mother had charge of some of the old people — the old men on the Settlement, and Zoe lived with her parents at the quarters. One day her mother surprised us by asking for a picture roll for Zoe and on being asked why Zoe wanted a picture roll, she further surprised us by saying, “Every night she gathers the old men together and has church with them. She sings and makes them sing, and then tells them the stories she hears at Sunday School and makes them say the Lord’s Prayer with her and the old men love it, but she thinks she could explain it better if she had a picture to show them.”
Zoe, too shy to talk to us, but doing this wonderful work for our Lord Jesus!
The Sydney Ladies’ Auxiliary of the A.I.M. organised, arranged and advertised three days’ Exhibition of our splendid collection of weapons, implements and curios, and specimens of men, women and children’s handicraft from our many stations…
… We were able, for the first time, to have a Northern Territory table of stone tomahawks, stone knives, hooked boomerangs, tribal marked implements, and other rarities.
The other stalls were of women’s work, men’s carving and handiwork, native huts, a small crocodile from Normanton, a very long snake skin from Bulgandramine, a sea cow, and a display of coral from Palm Island, feather flowers from Darlington Point and so on, from around all our field.
People always think of boomerangs as part of an Aboriginal’s outfit, but they don’t all use them.
The dark people away in the far north didn’t know anything about it until a traveller from the south brought some with him. Most of the northern tribes do not use them at all.
Then again, the word “boomerang” is not universally used by the dark people. A tribe located in Botany Bay called it “whirrangang,” with a good roll in the “whirr.”
In one place it is “kali,” in another “kulli,” and the dark folk in another district use the word “kylie.” None of these names sound much like “boomerang,” do they ?
Sometimes you will hear people belittling our dark folk, but do you know that they are the only race who have made any weapon that will come back again when thrown?
…Then it was very nice to see our Gayndah people and their Church which by a miracle is standing today. The big flood last year covered to the roof and washed and banged against it but "it fell not" and was not damaged, but, oh, what a work it must have been to scrape the mud off the walls and shovel it off the floor! Only the poor old organ went to pieces and is lying in a heap. We must pray that the Lord will soon provide a new one.
Dear Young Cousins:
On the second Sunday in May we very specially remember our mothers and some of you will be having special Mothers' Day services in your church and perhaps singing or reciting special items about mother. All of us who can, wear a white flower on Mothers' Day, and perhaps some of you will have the privilege of giving out white flowers at your church services.
Three young people passed through the waters of baptism at Dubbo on Easter Sunday, witnessing to those who gathered on the bank of the Macquarie River their faith in the Risen Lord and showing their desire to go on with Him. Over Easter, Mr. C----, our Missionary, was able to take five of the older boys for a three-days' camp a few miles up the river. They enjoyed a happy time in the bush, much time being spent rabbiting and hiking. They had times of fellowship each morning and evening, and each night had a sing-song around the fire, giving the Gospel message in this way to those who were fishing along the river.
…A definite aim of our Mission since its inception has been the establishment of a Native Church and the encouragement of a Native ministry. In this we have seen the Holy Spirit at work in taking out from the Australian Aborigines a people for Himself. None of us have a keener perception of the need of nurturing a Native Church than some of our Native Missionaries, one of whom gives the spiritual need of his station to be the salvation of the people from heathen customs, viz., corroborees, incantations, polygamy, superstitions, fear of evil spirits, etc., and then the formation of a selfgoverning, self-propagating and self-supporting Native Church…
She lay in the spotless ward of the native hospital on Cherbourg settlement. A middle aged woman, but on the brink of eternity. She felt better today, and so was not as interested in the claims of Christ as she was yesterday when she knew she was seriously ill. This dark skinned woman clung to the thread of life, hoping to recover and later decide for Christ…
…she slipped into the realms of eternity at an unexpected moment. We do not know of course whether she made the decision or not but to all appearances she had not done so.
The carelessness of her neglect of spiritual things was evident at the funeral…Their cries of anguish, and their wailing told of the emptiness of their souls and the fear of death in their hearts.
…Like most of those who gathered they were dressed in the fashions of today with every evidence of being "civilised or westernised, or christianised" however you want to say it. But this outward appearance was only a veneer over the old way of life and Christ had never been able to make all things new for them.
Recently a number of young men came here from Delissaville for a special corroboree and I had the opportunity of playing gospel records to them one morning. They listened intently to those in their own language, and asked for more. We are longing t! at soon missionaries will be able to go to Delissaville to help these people…
…Many know about Christ as Saviour but like many others they want their old ways and the gambling and are not prepared to stand out for Him. Some say to me, "That's all right for white man, black man different." Pray for these people
We hear a lot of talk also about citizenship for the aborigine, but we notice that those who advocate this, think of it solely in terms of the right to go into any hotel and buy your own beer or spirits. Your reading of the newspapers will show you this.
We were asked by a Sydney newspaper recently to comment on the question of selling liquor to Aborigines along the Victorian Border. When we pointed out that those who were raising this question were making this point the whole subject of citizenship. We noticed that the paper did not print our comments.
A young aborigine has begun a tennis club for lonely coloured people in Sydney. The club meets on Friday nights on a hired court in Prince Alfred Park, and has 25 members. The organiser is 24 years old H---- P------, a clerk with the Agriculture Department. H----, a State Rugby Union player last season, hopes the tennis club will help some of the young people of aboriginal blood gain self-confidence, individuality and a sense of responsibility.
September 15 was D. Day recently for the Territory’s Aboriginal people. At 12 noon the proclamation granting them full citizenships rights came into operation. For many this was Drink Day. They were as free now to purchase alcohol as any other citizen. Right throughout Australia attention had been focused on this day.
In 1939 Gospel recordings began producing records with the Christian message in different languages…On Aboriginal stations, cattle stations, drover’s camps and many other places Aboriginal people have used these records, hearing the Gospel message in their own tongue.
By Field Superintendent
E. Arthur Collins.
A service is now being held on Sunday mornings. The King of the tribe is helpful and has now offered to speak to his people the message in their own language. How wonderful it would be if he came to the Lord and then was able to lead his people to Him. This is what we are praying and longing for.
The quotes in this section drive home the dedication and commitment of AIM missionaries to ‘saving’ Aboriginal people from their traditional culture and converting them to an evangelical Christian belief system.
Adults and children have diligently attended school and made good advance along educational lines. Masters and mistresses give testimony to the changed lives and diligent service of those in their employ, while a Government official who gave out the blankets, declared he could scarcely believe them to be the same people their very countenances have changed.
Some say, are the Aborigines not better left alone? But we have not left them alone. We have degraded them beyond description, and we should now strive to uplift them… Nothing degrades a white man more than to have under his treatment a lot of helpless men and women and children, with whom he can do what he likes. So for our sakes we should undertake missions to the Aborigines, as well as for their sakes.
A very old Aboriginal who had attended the Sunday services at Terry-Hie-Hie was concerned regarding what he had to pay for hearing the Gospel story proclaimed, as his conversation shows. Coming up to one of the missionaries, he asked: “How much is to pay when you pray?” Continuing he said “Have not got a sizpence, would a tin of jam do?” Needless to say, the poor old Australian native was quickly assured that there was nothing to pay. “Without money and without price,” and he was satisfied and pleased. Another time he said: “I’m glad Mr Gates has come here.” “Why?” said the missionary. “He keep me straight,” he replied. “Where will you go if you are kept straight?” “Heaven,” came the answer. “And if you don’t keep straight where will you go?” “To the bottom,” said the poor fellow.
But, then, they sing everything well, and more than that, they do everything well… They have made splendid advance, particularly during the last year. The Inspector’s last report was something worth working for… Their school tablets, copy books and drawing books were a surprise to us. We were particularly struck by the advanced arithmetic of the second eldest boy, and his books testified of an all-round efficiency… the native children are bright and intelligent and will repay effort put forth in their education.
The Aboriginal Court at the RA Show, Brisbane, was most interesting and instructive, and must have been an eye-opener to many visitors… The writing and arithmetic of the school children was all that could be desired, and would compare favourably with the work done in any school… A gentleman writing of what he saw, says:- My attention was arrested by the surprising proficiency in handwriting, arithmetic, and map-drawing - - quite equal to (and why not?) the best in the State schools.
Brief reference was made in our last issue to Australian numerals. As is well-known, the system is limited in its range. It was alleged by an early scientific student of the Aborigines and has since passed into common belief, that the Aborigines only being able to count five at the most, is a proof that they possess a very limited intellect… Others have adduced the fact of the Aborigines having no written language, and thinking themselves of some higher created order of beings, have looked upon the Aborigines of Australia as very low in the scale of humanity.
We are thankful that such erroneous ideas can be unquestionably discredited, not only by those who have given long years to the study of this people and by colonists who but for the intelligence and sagacity of the blacks, could never have weathered the discouragements of early pioneering, but now the Christian missionary can add unfaltering testimony… until it can be said that given the environment and opportunity our Aborigines will rise to a position of honour and esteem, displaying ability and execution along certain lines second to none… The Aboriginal school at Ramahyuck, Vic, on several occasions received from the government inspector 100 per cent, a result equal to any school in Victoria; while in some districts in NSW where aboriginal schools are established, the teachers have obtained better results and higher marks than any other school, large or small, in the district.
Our missionaries go to the Aborigines just where they are, on camp or settlement, and if permission can be obtained take up their residence amongst them, believing the gospel to be the power of God unto salvation. If residence is not practicable, a house is rented as near as one can be procured to the camp or settlement. If the missionary finds the Government already at work… they uphold the prestige of the Government and study to do their own work in accord with any existing regulations… No missionary of the AIM accepts a Government position or any remuneration whatever from the Government for any services rendered.
The signal step of the year is the publication of a paper exclusively produced for the Aborigines, we believe the first of its kind in Australia. We find ourselves of its kind in Australia. We find ourselves with an ever increasing number of readers amongst our people who eagerly devour periodicals of every kind. Something expressly adapted to their need in this direction became more and more necessary. The first issue of the new paper – “The Australian Evangel” – for circulation amongst the Aborigines of Australia, was issued in September and as it is a monthly paper, the third is now in the pint. As we are not localizing it in any way we are hoping that every Missionary Society in Australia will take it up and find it of great value in the work.
We have two encouraging cases to report. One dear dark woman stayed after service, and without being spoken to, said she was going to give up gambling; that she knew that it had hindered her Christian life. Another lapsed Christian came to our mission house to have prayer with us. How he rejoiced as he so humbly prayed and sought to be a witness for the Lord again. It is a wonderful priviledge to be with these dark people.
“Daisy,” a bright-eyed married woman, told eagerly of her experience in hospital. So ill she was, she told us – apparently from her description she had pneumonia or some acute trouble – she had been delirious. “Three times I die,” she said in her graphic way, “but Jesus help me. I jump up, run outside – I not know. All so kind to me – Doctor, nurses, matron. When I get better they take me to the meeting, I lie back (a wheel chair). But oh, I do like the singing, I like go again.” As she spoke with her quiet voice, her bright eyes and her slim hands, how attractive she seemed. May the gracious God use “Daisy” as a flower of the field, to witness to His power to bless, to save, and to keep a lonely aboriginal woman.
At an open meeting Mary gave this simple testimony, “Dear friends, I’ve been a wicked woman, deep in sin, but God saved me. I am very happy, and don’t want those sins now. I am praying for my children. I want them to give their hearts to Jesus, too, and God bless you all.”
Recently both Mitchell and his wife were baptized, when each gave a beautiful testimony. It was very touching to hear this big man praying for his mother, and later comforting those who came to comfort him at her death, with such as “We should not be sad and sorrow, Mother, she is alright, she is home with Jesus, and is happy. We will meet her up there bye and bye.”
Every teacher should determine to do better teaching this year than ever before. This will require better preparation of lessons, deeper and more prayerful Bible study, more personal attention to the scholars in the class, a better knowledge of them out of school, more effort to interest them in the Word of God, more direct endeavours to bring them to Christ. The teacher should begin by a new consecration to Christ and by striving after greater holiness.
The Call has gone forth for volunteers for the College
We want to hear from any young men or women or married couples who have decided to give their lives to missionary service amongst their own people of Australia.
If you desire to be trained will you please write to
62 Johnson Street, Chatswood, N.S.W.,
or give the letter to your Missionary to post to Mrs. Long.
DON'T DELAY! APPLY RIGHT AWAY!
One day a lady was teaching a class of little girls in a Sunday School. "My dear children," she said, "how soon may we give our hearts to God and become true Christians ?" They didn't answer at first. Then she spoke to them one by one. Turning to the oldest scholar in the class, she asked:
"What do you say, Mary?"
"When we are thirteen."…
…At last she came to little Lily, youngest scholar in the class.
"Well, Lily," she said, "and how soon do you think we may give our hearts to God?"
"Just as soon as we feel that we are sinners and know who God is," said Lily.
Wasn't that a beautiful answer, and one we should remember when teaching little children. Always try to get them to make a decision while they are young.
There must be nearly 14,000 Aborigines in the Northern Territory, besides those in other States, who are yet outside the Kingdom of God. They are in the bondage of heathen superstition, in the depths of spiritual darkness. This fact presents us with a great challenge. Even now quite a number have come into the circle of salvation and liberty in Christ, and some of these have already passed within the veil, to join the "innumerable company of angels and the spirits of just men made perfect."
We must go out into the "uttermost parts," that we might bring in as many as possible of these people, and once they are brought to Christ none shall ever pluck them out of His hand.
There has come to the Training College at Pindimar a little girl called R-----. She is only eleven years old, so you will know she hasn't come as a student. She has come with her parents…For a little while they were working as Native Missionaries at Gayndah…It meant getting permission from the Government to come, which can't be got quickly, and it meant asking for and expecting their fares from the Lord and it cost about £12 for the three of them…
…She has made friends with us all and we feel the Lord will use her bright little life here amongst us…at Pindimar.
…They may be new to some readers so well look at the name in full: Australian Aboriginal Missionary Movement — the double A double M…
…The idea is to send out Native Workers and to support them with money and goods and in any way possible that can be thought of; also to support the College where Native Workers are trained. The A.A.M.M. has for its idea the bringing of our dear people to a knowlodge of the Lord Jesus and it not only thinks of those far away but of those right in the place where its members live. The A.A.M.M. does all it can to preach the gospel to everybody just at hand.
Lou. was only four years of age. Her father and brothers were great fighters, and it was so hard for them to keep out of fights. It may seem strange, but one would often see that when the men started fighting, their wives would pick up a stick or anything handy and go out to help their husbands and boys in the fight, and often there would be more than a dozen fighting together at once.
At our prayer meeting one day little Lou was sitting by her mother's side. Her mother was telling me how her husband and boys would go out to fight and she could not help picking up a stick or something else and going out, too, and yet she knew, as a Christian, she should not do so, but how could she stop?
I told her the Lord could help her, and that if she found herself grabbing her stick to go out, to rush into the bedroom instead, and if she could not lock the door to sit or kneel against it and pray to God that He would stop them fighting. I told her that He would stop the fight if she only asked Him to.
Next day Lou.'s mother came up to me with a radiant face and joyful heart. She said, "You know what you told me yesterday? Well, last night the boys were outside the house fighting, and I go to grab a stick to run out to them, and little Lou said to me, 'Mummy, you know what the Missionary said, you know Mummy.' It made me remember, and I dropped my stick and ran into the bedroom and prayed, and they stopped fighting straight away."
Truly little Lou was a little missionary in remembering what I had told her mother, don't you think?
The Director of Native Affairs in Queensland, while on an official visit to Cherbourg, delivered a beautiful reference Bible to our Native Worker, W---- P-------, who has been ill in hospital since early November. The Bible is a gift from the officers of the Department of Agriculture and Stock, and the accompanying card bore the words, "With best wishes for a speedy recovery, from the officers of the Department of Agriculture and Stock." W---- had been loaned to the Department from time to time, and it is evident that he had made a deep impression on their minds by his conduct.
At last we have taken a step forward to enter the College with the privilege of being trained as Native Missionaries, to go and tell our own people, of (the love of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. After months of delay the Lord has helped us in all ways in the preparation and He has answered our prayers abundantly and we have proved that He has been a wonderful Friend in all He has done for us.
We see in our Topic for to-day how our Lord Jesus Christ offers us all an invitation to come to Him and be saved. Our friends around us sometimes give us an invitation to come to their home or go somewhere for an outing with them. How we enjoy it very much! We see that the Lord Jesus tells us to come to Him and follow Him- If we girls and boys let Jesus take control of our lives we will enjoy all the fullness of blessing that our Lord Jesus has for us. May we each one let the Lord Jesus come and rule our lives so we may live for Him.
…Quite a few families have come back here to Darlington Pt. for the winter months, the men getting work on the sheep stations, so we have settled in to the usual winter programme of spiritual work. The older children having missed so much schooling through their absence on the Fruit Area, makes our work difficult with them. Some say they will ''have a try" for the Sunday School Exam., and I believe they will do their best, though they will have to "cram" as they have missed so many regular lessons.
I was very thrilled, on walking into the church with Mr. Robbins oil June 18, to be greeted by a full chorus of boys and girls singing a welcome to the ' new missionary." It was a real joy to be greeted in this way on my first day in the work and now, having been there for well over a month, the truth and sincerity of their chorus, "There's a Christian welcome here." is very evident.
This year the Annual Meetings were held in the British and Foreign Bible Society's hall in George St…
… Pictures of our Aborigines in their natural state taken in that part of our continent known as The Red Centre" were shown, and the challenge for new workers presented that those who still sit in darkness might have the Light…
... I noticed the Sister having trouble with a girl about 10 years old, who didn't want to stay in bed. The girl has been there for some time and is a rheumatic fever case. The Sister tied her to the bed, but the girl soon had her hands free and was undoing the band around her ankle.
I went to the girl and started to talk to her. As I did she became quiet. I felt it was just the power of Jesus' name that caused her to lie down quietly, and how interested she was to hear more about Him, and pleased to receive a picture of the Lord Jesus. As I left her, she even tied herself down again and lay there quietly looking at the picture as I moved from bed to bed telling a Gospel story.
Several more part-coloured babies are at present available at the Retta Dixon Home for adoption into Christian families in the southern States.
Quite a number of similar children have already been adopted into Christian families.
The results have been wonderful. One mother wrote recently: "We love our baby dearly. She is quite plump now and a picture of health and contentment. She has already brought great joy into our lives. We pray that we may be able to give her a happy home life and bring her up to know the Lord."
Another adopted child was the means of bringing a neighbouring couple to find Christ as a Saviour. Taking such a child and rearing him or her in the atmosphere of the love of Christ, must surely prove a blessing to all concerned…
Two trainees at the Aborigines' Inland Mission Bible Training Institute at Minimbah have been awarded prizes in the National Aborigines' Day writing quest. Today is being observed as Aborigines' Day and to mark the occasion a number of Australia-wide competitions were arranged.
Miss C------ I--- has been awarded the first prize in the short-story section, while F---- J------ won the essay prize in his section.
The Director of Child Welfare, Mr. Donald McLean, who is also known for his own literary achievements, commented on Miss I---'s story as follows: "Excellent; this is more mature writing than most of the stories in the competition. One feels that the people concerned and the incidents are true. "If C------ would cultivate her interest and style she might, with maturity, write stories which could contribute to a better understanding of our aboriginal people."…
Singleton Argus, 8/7/60
Assimilation means the end of all segregation. It would naturally bring about the closing of all settlements and reserves, and the abolition of special government departments, catering for the needs of the coloured and aboriginal people.
What then is the future of the A.I.M. if and when assimilation is final and complete? If the native people will be attending public schools, living in our streets, working in the usual places of employment, why wouldn't they worship in our established churches? If the local churches can cater for them, will there be any need for a separate missionary society to the aborigines?
This question was vigorously discussed at the recent A.I.M.General Conference…
…One of our objectives as a mission is the establishment of an indigenous New Testament Church. While the policy of assimilation appears to cut across the basic idea of an indigenous church, yet it is obvious that two facts emerge from any discussion on this subject and can be clearly stated in this definite way:
By aiming at the establishment of an indigenous church you prepare every member:
1. To take his or her place as a taught and trained member working in any church.
2. To carry on a separate indigenous native church if that is finally the wish of the people themselves.
These were the final answers
…It was now over three weeks since Jim, a drunken gambler, had been admitted to the hospital.
Jim had been one who did not care for spiritual things. He repeatedly reminded the messengers of the Gospel that not many white people believed the teaching they brought. "And I want to be like a white fella'," he always said.
Over the years much prayer had gone up for him and now the Lord had seen fit to answer.
As a result of the missionary's daily visits, Jim came under conviction of sin, and accepted Christ as Saviour.
He never looked back…
It has been our prayer to God over the past few months and not only ours but also those who have been supporting the work in prayer, that He might increase attendances at our meetings. God has heard and answered and numbers have now improved. The attendance at our Sunday School has almost doubled, the Lord has also raised up yet another teacher in the person of Mrs. Dickson.
Aboriginal people served in World War I despite the Defence Act 1909 which prohibited any person not of 'substantially European' origin from serving. Aboriginal soldiers were amongst the Australian troops at Gallipoli.
Two Aboriginal military units were established during World War II and Aboriginal people also served in other sections of the armed forces. Aboriginal people served in Europe, the Middle East, the Pacific and New Guinea. Social policy legislation to support families during war years applied to Aboriginal people who met strict eligibility criteria. As a result, many Aboriginal people left reserves to seek employment and improve their living conditions.
Discrimination against Aboriginal people began to raise community disquiet in 1940, spurring South Australian Premier Playford to request the Australian Government to pay maternity benefits and old age pensions to Aboriginal people.
Aboriginal people in Arnhem Land were enlisted to make up a special reconnaissance unit in the defence of Australia, after Darwin was bombed by the Japanese in 1942. Northern Territory Aboriginal missions were evacuated, with women and children transferred to Victoria, South Australia or New South Wales, with some of them never to return.
We mingle our prayers with countless others who at this time call upon Him “who maketh wars to cease,” that this calamitous war may soon be at an end. At the same time we lift up our heads with His waiting Church and rejoice in the hope of His near coming, for did He not say, “When ye see these things come to pass, then look up and lift up your heads, for your redemption draweth nigh ?”
“Let all who look for hasten
The coming glorious day
By earnest consecration
To walk the narrow way
By gathering in the lost ones
For whom our Lord did die
For the crowning day is coming bye and bye.”
For over a month our children were without day school awaiting the arrival of a new teacher. We rejoice now that one has been appointed, and has opened school. His wife and children are expected to arrive shortly.
Some of our women and girls have been trying to help those engaged in this terrible war by doing some knitting for them. One half caste lad from here has gone to the front.
Following the drought we have had a flood. Our church and some of the houses were in danger, but the men made a bank to dam the water back, and thus saved the places. We ask prayer that floods of spiritual blessing may come in our midst, and not be kept back by banks of sin and carelessness and unbelief.
-M . I .C.
In our last report we related how, in answer to prayer, Mrs Gates and children had been enabled to take a trip to Sydney. Since then I was sent for to go there, too, to farewell our youngest son, who is now on his way to the front. Our eldest son, who came to Terry-Hie-Hie and farewelled a few weeks previously, will also sail in a short time.
We hear that a good many of our men are enlisting. Eleven from Cherbourg, seven from Boggabilla, and so on. We would very much like to have all their names and will be glad if missionaries, native workers or any of our people will write and give us the names of those enlisting. For one thing, we want to pray for them and see what we can do to help them.
Darwin is beautifully situated and can be seen to good advantage as ships enter the busy port. There is much to be seen in these war days which is of the greatest interest — naval vessels of various kinds, many members of our defence forces and planes continually on the move — I can hear one whizzing right by the Mission house, as I write.
They give us a thrill, for we are thankful that we need fear no bombs upon us, either from them or from an enemy who may come thinking to find our country undefended.
Let us remember in prayer these men who continually work and watch to keep our homeland safe.
Private J------ S------, of Lake Boga, Victoria, is reported missing and since reported prisoner-of-war in Greece. Mrs. S------ first heard it was her son F---- who was missing, then she heard it was her husband, so she had a double shock. Mrs. S------ was very thankful for comforting letters received from one who was a missionary of ours in Southern N.S.W.
The War Services Committee of Tingha went out to the Mission Station to tender a farewell to five of our young men who were leaving for the A.I.F. They were V------ W-------, F--- B----, C--. C-----, J--- L------- and V------ C-------.
Appropriate speeches were made by several from Tingha, but the Tamworth paper tells us the speech of the evening was made by our Native Worker, “who lifted the farewell speeches to a high plane. He commenced by quoting John 3: 16. The speaker seemed to forget that he had an audience and addressed himself to the five ‘boys’ who were leaving their people. In the most devout language he exhorted the lads to put their trust in God and be guided by Him in all their journeys. He concluded by saying ‘Honour your God, your King and Country, and never let the Aborigines down.’”
Two of the young men’s mothers, Mrs B---- and Mrs L-------, sang suitable hymns, Mrs L-------’s being “In the Sweet Bye and Bye.” The soldiers were presented with wallets of notes from the Tingha War Service Committee and the New Testaments from the Mission. The Tingha Ladies Committee presented all present with a packet of sweets.
One fact has arisen out of recent changes, that is that we have been safeguarded from all harm, by an invisible hand. No missionaries of our Mission were in the Darwin area during the recent bombings, and most of our property had been removed. I had been the last representative of the work to leave Darwin, and came down with the van on the last "civilian" train before all trains were taken over by the military. It was providential that we were able to get most of our goods away previously, chiefly to Pine Creek and Mataranka.
We are living in very trying and dangerous times; we never thought that war would come to Australia and all our way of living would so quickly change. We did not think that our work for the Lord Jesus would be upset here as it is in other lands. We are threatened by a great heathen nation which has tried to put out the Gospel light in the countries it has conquered…
… when the Japanese bombed Darwin (and one of our girls was killed) they went to Delissaville and machine-gunned our people who fled to the bush. Then they deliberately riddled our people's little huts with bullets.
I would like to tell you I was still in hospital when I heard about the bombing of Darwin. When I had been there a fortnight I came out. After that I heard about the Katherine bombing. When I was in Katherine I used to live in a place with a friend called Rodger, one of the church members who helped me a lot.
When the Van came this time I found out how that the house I used to live in was blown to pieces and Rodger was killed. Then I could see how the Lord stopped me from going to Katherine and brought me to a safe place, because the Lord never forgets His children who trust Him.
There are now 90 Aborigines and half-castes in our care at Saints War-time Settlement. Miss Bailey, who had been assisting at Pindimar College, transferred to Saints to help in the undertaking. All the usual meetings are held. Many of the children have accepted Christ and a Y.P. and Junior C.E. have been formed, and two of them have recently been baptised. It is our prayer that the work at Saints may produce Native Workers in readiness for out re-entry to our Northern Territory centres.
Many of our centres are all but denuded of men. From New South Wales 300 have enlisted in the A.I.F., and from all the Settlements and Reserves and Camps in each State large numbers of men have been claimed by the Manpower and military authorities for all manner of service—300 alone have gone from Cherbourg—many of our Native Workers, Church Officers and Christians amongst them, and our work has necessarily suffered dislocation and depleted congregations.
It is worth remembering that Australia was practically wide open to invasion in the period when some of the world's greatest strongholds were falling, and the Northern Territory was the first part of the continent to receive the attention of the enemy. We can thank God, for deliverance from, this time of unparalleled turbulance and disaster. It was not, however, merely because of danger that the changes mentioned were brought about. Our mission centres were all on the lines of communication, that were so congested with military traffic. All shops were closed and travel so far as we were concerned became practically impossible. Aboriginal camps were scattered and everything had to give way to the urgent needs of the fighting forces.
There was no choice in the matter. The whole Northern Territory came under military control and still remains so, though the position has somewhat relaxed since the first stern days when the Japanese hordes were racing southward.
As the war neared out shores in 1940, Miss M. Shankleton, A.I.M. missionary, was asked by the Native Affairs Branch to accompany a number of part-coloured mothers and their children to a safer area in the south.
She and other missionaries cared for these folk until it was safe to return to the north.
On their return Miss Shankleton organized, what became the retta Dixon Home, in a set of Army buildings on Bagot Road, Darwin. Up to 80 children were cared for by Miss Shankleton and other missionaries at various times.
This section of the exhibition highlights famous, important and notorious people that are repeatedly mentioned in either Our Aim or Australian Evangel, along with other records that highlight their place in Australia’s history.
Some time ago, when in Melbourne, I listened with others to an address given by a highly educated Aboriginal from Point Macleay mission station, SA. I shut my eyes, to try and control my own mental faculties, as I listened to this man, his flow of language, his choice of terms, his excellent English, put me to shame. With closed eyes it was easy to imagine, instead of this black man, a highly cultured University scholar standing delivering an address on a well-studied subject, but it was David Unaipon. He had been on a remarkable errand to Adelaide, and to quote from the papers at the time: “He brought with him a neatly drawn design of a piece of mechanism, which he claims can be attached to machinery and facilitate the attainment of perpetual motion. He proposes to bring about this result by gravitation and momentum. The Aborigines’ Department is assisting him to pursue his project.”
David Unaipon, the distinguished Aboriginal writer, speaker and inventor, pictured on the Australian $50 note, campaigned for a separate Aboriginal Territory of Centralia–a campaign which may have contributed to his arrest on a charge of vagrancy in the same year.
Source: P Jones, ‘David Unaipon (1872-1967)’ Australian Dictionary of Biography online.
David Unaipon who had, following events of 1926, gone on to assist Bleakley’s inquiry on the Aboriginals and Half-Castes of Central Australia and North Australia, called on the Commonwealth to assume responsibility for Aboriginal affairs and for South Australia’s Chief Protector of Aborigines to be replaced by an independent body.
The “Remembering Mission Days” online exhibition is dedicated to the memory of SHIRLEY ANN (KNIGHT) WILLIAMS 12.5.1947 – 28.10.2010
Passed away peacefully, and missed by all.
Shirley was a much loved AIATSIS staff member who contributed to the digitisation of the Mission journals and to AIATSIS in many other ways.
Shirley Williams returned to the Willow Bend Mission at Condobolin in 2010 to remember and write her own story of Mission Days. Some of her story is below.
Mum came back home last school holidays, we had planned to do a story about mission life as part of her work with AIATSIS and to tell her story.
She travelled up with her son Darren and young grandson and nephew to visit her family in Condobolin particularly her 3 grandchildren Jerome, Kaine and Lowanna. Mum didn’t look to well and I questioned that she shouldn’t have travelled up if she wasn’t right, and I copped the old stare and “she be right son it’s just a sore neck it will be gone in a few days”. We sat around for the next few days and caught up with gossip up and enjoyed the company of our children. It was a good opportunity for her to unwind and have her arvo naps, watch her favourite soapies.
She even got the opportunity to get around to see some old and dear friends and one of those friends who she regarded as a sister was Nanny Goolagong. When they finally met up and I left them both alone and said “I’ll pick ya up in an hour or so”. The two of them sitting on the porch catching up like old times and I reflected on them both, look at them two old girls, “ thinking gee look how much they have aged gracefully but still enjoying the company of each other”.
She even managed to go the pub where she pulled out a few hundred and knowing mum, that’s what she loved to do even though it was a dislike and a habit that I discouraged, but for some reason, I looked at her and thought its ok mum, your shout for dinner aye. She had a few beers that day and smiled and blinked at me and said “LUV YA”.
The next few days we ended up at the cemetery to show my young nephews around to where their mob where buried. We caught up with Nan, Pop, Aunty Brenda and even uncle Maco Wighton for Deeky. We then made our way down to David, her son, my brother where mum glowed and spoke of him with gentle ease and as she reflected on him, I think deep down mum was not only saying good bye, but she was saying David my son we will be together soon. Although she never told me, I could feel she was at ease with what she was doing. We said our last good byes and Deeky and Connor where full of questions and excited at what they got to see and most of all hear some stories from ole Nan about her family.
When we did get to do the story on her life, we started to drive and I had the video camera out, and straight away she started telling her story, and before long she started remembering her life, 60 odd years of it. We started at the old entrance and made our way down by the river, where she reminisced and laughed and even cried about was she was opening up to me. We tried to find the old house and for a glimpse her memory let her down. I asked her how long it has been since you have walked these tracks again, head bowed and thinking she said left here when I was 16-17 around the mid 60’s maybe. Then it occurred to me that it has been over 40 years since she has been back to these areas. Sure she has come and gone from here before, but retracing these steps was a big effort and no wonder she couldn’t pin point where she had actually lived.
So with the help from Uncle Peter we found our location and set up camp, where I would capture mum’s past in the next couple of hours. As we started out recording mum broke down again, but composed herself enough to get through it. The next hour or so, or what seemed like an eternity, mum spoke about her life on the mission and Condobolin, and moving to Queanbeyan to start her new life. She spoke of the missionaries, the church, the bush dancing, Uncle Peter nearly drowning in the river, the rations, the gathering of mushrooms when it rained, and fishing down the river to catch dinner.
One dear memory she spoke about was the time when Pop Monte bought her a bike and she thought she was a princess riding it around the mission, but only to have it taken off here because pop couldn’t make the payments. She stated that it broke her heart and she never did forgive Dad for that. These where the many things we spoke about on that day, the good the bad and most of all she spoke of a life blessed with beautiful brothers and sisters and the Love of her life time and the five children they had together.
There was a reason she came back and they believe in Aborginal culture that one person knows when their time is up and I feel deep down mum knew that, and was I in denial, yes. But mum wasn’t she knew exactly what she was doing to make things right. She retraced her steps and now her story now lives with us, and now it will be there for the future generation to share together forever.
Love u mum.
Darren, David, Leon, Otis and PJ.
AIATSIS acknowledges the traditional owners of country throughout Australia and their continuing connection to land, culture and community.
We pay our respects to elders past and present.