No corrections yet
STEPS TO IMPROVE LOTI OF NATIVES IN, W.A. Experience of the Native Administration Act. 1936, and supplementary legislation suggested that certain amendments were desirable, the Minister for Native Affairs (Mr. McDonald) said yesterday.
These amendments, Mr. Mc )onald said, had been carefully examined by the department and might. be the subject of legislation during the present Parliamentary session. The 1936 Act had marked an ad vance in West Australian legis lation for native welfare. The policy genrerally valid in Australia had been stated in broad principles in the resolu tions of the 1937 Canberra con ference of Commonwealth and State Commissionprs of Native Affairs. It was essential that constructive and progressive measures should be continued to give to the native popula tion a sense of security and op portunity, and confidence on their future as responsible and accepted members of the com munity. . MR. BATEMAN'S REPORT. In July, 1947, Mr. F. E. A. Bate man, R.M., was asked by the Govw emment to make a survey of native institutions and conditions generally throughout the State. This important work occupied him for most of a year, his report being presented in June, 1948. The main authoritative documents available for study in connection with the native population were the valuable work of Mr.- A. O. Neville published in 1948 entidtled "Autrahia's Coloured Minority," the reports of Dr. W. E. Roth, made mn 1904, and of Mr. H. D. Moseley, then S.M., made in 1935, and the survey of Mr. Bateman in 1947-48. Mr. Neville was for 25 yearn Commissioner of Native Affairs in this State, He was s"d ceeded by Mr. F. I. Bray, who retired in 1947. IMPORTANT STEPS. The' year which. had ensued since Mr. Bateman's report, Mr. McDonald said, had been a period of considerable activity and pan ning by the Department of : tii ve Affairs and measures of nmpor tance had already been sken. In August, 1948, Mr. S. G.- Middle ton was appointed 'commissioner in ucessbn. to Mir.' Bray. jr Middleton resigned the post of Deputy-Director of the Depart memt of Native Affairs in the Commonwealtl . knanipated tern tory of Papuas to accept the c missionership in this State. He had had many years 'of experi ence in t?hat area and as deputy director was, associated with the respbnsibility for the welfare of a nativb population of about 260D00. An Augtralian, he was born in Queinsland. DECENTRALISATION. The administration of the de partment had been reorpanised with the object of increasing the field staff and ensuring a measure of decentralisation; Mr. McDon aid said. The State was divided into two regions, northern and southern, the boundary being the 26th parallel of latitude in the vicinity of Shark Bay. Each region was under a chief administrative officer and under him thare would be district offi cers assigned to particular areas. A number of these officers had already been appointed.' Every effort was being made to secure a field staff of the best. calibre, some of whom had .been secured from inside the State and some from the Native Affairs Depart ment of the Commonwealth Papuan territory.' In a State of the size of Western Australia, over the whole of w?ich Ithe° native population, was scat tered, the policy of the depart ment aimed-at ensuring a much closer contact with the natives and their social, industrial and general welfare than had bees possible in, the past. A further object was to relieve the police as far as possible of the duties of protectors. The police had on the whole rendered valuable service, but the com bination of police and welfare; re sponsibilities was a difficult role to impose on police officers. Dis trict officers would also assist in promoting satisfactory, employer employee" relationships, partscu.
lar?y in the southern region where the half-`aste natives predomi nated. HEALTH CONTROL Supplementary 'observations re cently made by the Commissioner of Health (Dr. C. E. Cook), Mr. McDonal4 said that formerly the health of natives was largely the responsibility of a medical officer attached to the staff of the De partment of Native Affairs. This system, under .which responsibility for' native health was divided be tween the Departments of Health and Native Affairs, was not in the interests of the natives or of the white population of the-.State. Last year the responsibility for the natrve hospitals in the North Miassed to the Health Depart ment and this year the general re sponsibility. for health of natives was assumed by that department. This reorganisation .wsas of the utmost importance. T.?. TISTS. ,With increased travel in the northern areas through flying ser vices, additional care was needed to protect the Native' population from introduced diseases,, against which they would not have the resistance of white people. - It was also essential that the tfici dence of leprosy should be met with the full resources of the State Health Department. A close liaison was .maintained between the Health and Nativg Affairs Departments. . As a result of .the increased numberHof meedikpl oflcers in the northernareas, medicals examina tions of natives, both in- towns and on stations and reservg, had been canied out- during ?he last 12 months on an extensve calb. Under Dr. L. Flept,, arrange btenUt ?. were being, made for, a urvey of the Incidence of tuber culosis _in the natives of the northern areas. This had "not been previously undertaken and was considered to be. a measure of urgency, not 'only in the in terests of the natives but of the white population. .