Living under the Act

For almost 100 years, the lives of Aboriginal people in Queensland were strictly controlled by Protection Acts. Under these Acts, Aboriginal people were forcibly removed from their lands to live on missions or government settlements - usually thousands of miles away from traditional lands. Families were broken up. Children were taken away from parents. People were forbidden to speak their own languages or practise traditional customs.

Under the Protection Acts, the government sought to “protect” Aboriginal people from the vices of European society by moving them onto reserves and missions.

The Acts allowed the “Chief Protector of Aboriginals” and local Protectors to control the lives of Aboriginal people including who they could marry, where they could work and, if they received their wages, how they could spend their money.

The first Act - The Aboriginals Protection and the Restriction of the Sale of Opium Act - was passed in 1897.

Aboriginal people survived, but the effects of these restrictions continue to be felt by succeeding generations as they rebuild family networks and cultural links.

The themes and stories in this circle include:

  • Identity
  • Customs
  • Employment
  • Yumbas
  • Mitchell Yumba
  • Mitchell Yumba today
  • Government settlements
  • Cherbourg
  • Cherbourg – Dormitory life
  • Missions
  • Yarrabah
  • Yarrabah – the church