Type of entity
Legal Status Text
Authorized form of name
Other form(s) of name
Dates of existence
The 1897 Aborigines Act established the first Aborigines department in Western Australia. The department started to function in April 1898, as a sub-department of the Treasury, with a small staff, a permanent head called the Chief Protector of Aborigines, and a statutory grant of 5 000 pounds. In 1901, the department was assigned to the Premier's Department, a year later to the office of the Colonial Secretary, and in 1905 its control was transferred to the Minister for Commerce and Labour. About the same time, as a result of a Royal Commission appointed in 1904, it was raised to the status of a department and allocated a minmum statutory grant of 10 000 pounds.
In 1909, the Aborigines and the Fisheries Departments were amalgamated into one agency; the Aborigines and Fisheries Department. This step was due partly to a policy of financial stringency on the part of the government and partly to the expediency of running as one the two departments whose interests in that period lay mainly in the northern part of the State.
The first Chief Protector of Aborigines was Henry Charles Prinsep (who was formerly Under-Secretary for Mines). Prinsep's appointment commenced on 1 April 1898 but was without any legal authority (see the 1904 Roth Royal Commission, question 207). The Aborigines Act 1905 legalised the situation and his appointment was re-gazetted on 4 May 1906.
Charles Frederick Gale was appointed Acting Chief Protector of Aborigines during Prinsep's absence commencing 11 December 1912. Gale was appointed Chief Protector of Aborigines and Chief Inspector of Fisheries on 1 October 1908.
Functions, occupations and activities
Mandates/sources of authority
Creation: An Act to further amend the Constitution Act of 1889 and for the better protection of the Aboriginal race of Western Australia (statute 5/1897);
An Act to make better provision for the better protection and care of the Aboriginal inhabitants of Western Australia (statute 14/1905);