Identity area

Reference code

AU WA S3023




  • 1886-09-03 - 1886-09-03 (Creation)
  • 1886-09-03 - 1886-09-03 (Accumulation)

Level of description




Loose papers


Context area

Name of creator

AU WA A1200 - ABORIGINES PROTECTION BOARD (1886-01-01 - 1898-04-01)

Administrative history

In 1886, following the recommendation of a Select Committee, the administration of Aboriginal affairs was removed from the Colonial Secretary and entrusted to the Aborigines Protection Board, consisting of five members and a secretary, all of whom were nominated by the Governor without the advice or consent of the Executive Council. The establishment of the Board, although an important step, was in no way a radical departure from the existing administrative set-up and was brought about primarily by the increased pressure of business in the office of the Colonial Secretary. The Governor, and ultimately the Colonial Office (United Kingdom), remained responsible for matters of policy.

During the negotiations which led to the grant of responsible government in 1890, the Colonial Office insisted that the control of the Aboriginal people in Western Australia remained vested in the Governor even after the granting of self-government. Consequently, the Constitution Act of 1889 provided that the Aborigines Protection Board, rather than a government department under a Minister of the Crown, should remain responsible for the care of Aboriginal people and stipulated that the sum of 5, 000 pounds or 1% of gross revenue (should revenue exceed 500, 000 pounds per annum) be annually appropriated to the welfare of the Aboriginal population. It was also declared at the same time that the Governor, in directing the Board, should act independantly of his constitutional advisors.

These provisions, not unnaturally, resulted in friction between the Colonial Office and the Western Australian government, which objected to having to provide funds over which it had no control and regarded the continued existence of the Board as inconsistent with the spirit of self-government. Moreover, the Board had to rely on the executive for the carrying out of its orders and would be powerless to act should the government decide to block any of its decisions. The controversy, which was first brought into the open in 1891, lasted for almost six years and was finally resolved when complete control of Aboriginal affairs was passed to the government of Western Australia.

Archival history

Content and structure area

Scope and content

NB: When these records were accepted into archival custody they were allocated an artificial numbering system - the original Chief Secretary's Office file numbers, where applicable, are noted in brackets as part of the file title of individual items (e.g. 3657/86).

(Files in this Record Series were previously listed at the State Records Office at reference: AN 1/1; Accession 388).


System of arrangement


Conditions of access and use area

Conditions governing access


Conditions governing access (legacy)

Open access

Conditions governing reproduction

Language of material

Script of material

Language and script notes

Physical characteristics and technical requirements

Finding aids

Allied materials area

Existence and location of originals

Related units of description


Category of relationship


Description of relationship

Dates of relationship



Category of relationship


Description of relationship

Dates of relationship


Authorized form of name


Category of relationship


Description of relationship

Dates of relationship


Related units of description

Access points

Place access points

Description control area

Level of detail




Archivist's note

Copies: Microfilm copies of these records (Consignment 388) are available for viewing at the State Records Office of WA.

Accession area

Related subjects

Related people and organizations

Related places