Wards, Words and Citizens: A.P. Elkin and Paul Hasluck on Assimilation (1).
Oceania 1999, June, 69, 4
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By 1951 A.P. Elkin had urged the social assimilation of Aborigines into settler society for a decade and a half. As the second Professor of Anthropology at the University of Sydney--Australia's only professor of anthropology from 1934 until 1951--President of the Association for the Protection of Native Races, prominent spokesman for Aboriginal rights, advisor to the Commonwealth government on Aboriginal policy in the 1930s and Vice-Chairman of the Aborigines Welfare Board of New South Wales, Elkin was well placed to publicise the assimilationist agenda. In 1951 Paul Hasluck became Commonwealth Minister for Territories, and thereby responsible for the relatively large Aboriginal population of the Northern Territory. Under Hasluck, assimilationist policies and practices were refined, extended and systematised. Although Commonwealth authority was limited to the Northern Territory, assimilation became the guiding principle of Aboriginal administration in the various state jurisdictions also. Hasluck's term as Minister for Territories (1951-63) marked the high-water point of assimilationism in Australian Aboriginal policy. Yet throughout this period Elkin expressed not acclamation for Hasluck's policies, but criticism. While both men were ardent advocates of assimilation, each conceptualised assimilation in quite different terms. Their differences are nicely encapsulated in the following interchange. In 1953 Hasluck drafted an ordinance which, to hasten the process of assimilation, provided for the declaration of all Northern Territory Aborigines as 'wards'. No longer were Aborigines to be 'Aborigines'; they were to be simply 'wards', in need of the state to manage their lives. The status of wardship could be revoked in the case of individuals whom the authorities deemed capable of managing their own affairs. Such individuals would then be entitled to the full range of rights and benefits enjoyed by other citizens of the Commonwealth. They would remain, in administrative terminology, non-Aborigines. (2)
- 2,99 €
- Category: Social Science
- Published: 01 June 1999
- Publisher: University of Sydney
- Print Length: 39 Pages
- Language: English