Education for Aborigines
: an examination of church and state policies for the education of Northern Territory Aboriginal children

  • Annette Marie Burke

    Student thesis: Other thesis - CDU


    Aboriginal Education forms a significant part of the Northern Territory Education system and the Catholic Education system, yet there has been very little documentation of the development of either system.

    This study endeavours to focus on the policies followed by both Educational agencies in the implementation of their Educational systems in reaction to the Federal Government policies of Protection, Assimilation, Integration and Self-Determination. It is not intended to comment on whether or not the policies were adhered to nor does it presume to judge the ethics of the policies themselves. Likewise, it is not this study's intention to look at the course Education policies have taken in regards to part-Aboriginal children as this has followed a different route.

    As such the study covers the years frcm 1870 to 1982. For this entire period the Educational system (s) have been answerable to avarying degree, to a large number of Government Departments.

    Federal Government policy on the Aboriginal people has fallen into three main areas, Protection, Assimilation, Integration and Self-Determination. These headings have therefore been used chronalogically as the framework for the Study. Throughout the development of Education in the Northern Territory, policies have been planned, accepted, announced and implemented, all taking time, years in certain cases.

    Information about actual policies followed has been very difficult to find, so a great deal of emphasis has been placed on the information that was available in the minutes and records of Mission Administration Conferences and Catholic Mission Council Meetings, with relatively less emphasis being placed an the numerous other sources used. I have attempted to find the directions taken in both systems by interviewing members of the Northern Territory Educational Department and Catholic Education representatives. This has helped considerably, particularly in the Catholic Education system where there is little or no' documentation of many policies.

    Personal interest in Aboriginal Education, due to having been in contact with it through both the Government and Catholic systems, is the underlying reason for this study. The origins of the policies implemented in Aboriginal Education particularly interested me.

    Opportunities are available for further studies on many of the elements touched on in this paper, including the 'Southerner experience' sending academically-able Aboriginal children away from Missions, usually to Southern Schools, the effects of the use of Dormitories, and many more. Education, being acted upon. At the same time the Catholic Churches Educational policies for Aboriginals were slowly changing due in part to the sharing of Government ideals by the changing personnel, mainly from Southern Australian states and the conditions being placed on the Missions by the Government when granting funds. However, Catholic Missions still maintained sane differences in their Education system in 1972.

    This second phase lasted from 1950 to 1972.

    In late 1972 with the election of the Australian Labour Party, Aboriginal people were granted the right to determine 1: . their own future. The term usedvas Self-Determination.

    The Government system of education for Aboriginals and the Catholic Mission system were almost parallel, both continued along this course through the change, frcm Gomnonwealth control of Education to the Northern Territory's control in 1979.

    The end of 1978 also saw the beginnings of the Catholic Education Office, when a Director was appointed to the area of Missions and Schools. The Bishop was still the final authority.

    Rapid development has taken place and in 1982 concern was being felt that too much had happened too quickly by members of both systems, yet others feel not enough has been done.
    Date of Award1983
    Original languageEnglish

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