"Report by G. Grey on method for promoting civilisation of aborigines"

8 October 1839

"2ndly. Their generally receiving a very inadequate reward for services they render: this combined with their natural fondness for the bush induces them to prefer that mode of subsistence, n which, whilst it is infinitely more agreeable and less laborious, procures for them nearly as great a reward as hiring with white people.

3rdly. Their not being taught that different values are attached to different degrees of labor, as well as to the skill and neatness with which it is performed.

21. These impediments might all either be removed or modified in some Districts by the establishment of Native Institutions and Schools: but in forming a general plan for their removal which would be equally applicable to all parts of a Colony, a very novel difficulty presents itself.

22. Imagining that a Native child is perfectly capable of being civilized, let it also be granted that from proper preventive measures having been adopted this child has nothing to fear from the vengeance of the other natives, so that it stands in these respects nearly or altogether in the position of a European.

23. If this Native child is a boy, who is to pay the Individual, who undertakes to teach him some calling, the fee usually given with an apprentice? who will indemnify this person for the time he spends in instructing the boy, before he can derive any benefit from his labor, or for the risk he incurs of the boy's services being bestowed elsewhere, as soon as they are worth having.

24. Until this difficulty is got over, it appears evident that the natives will only be employed in herding cattle or in the lowest order of manual labor, which requires no skill, and for which the reward they receive will be so small, as scarcely to offer an inducement to them to quit their present wandering mode of life.

25. The remedy, I would suggest for this evil, would have another advantage besides a tendency to ameliorate it, for it would give the settlers a great and direct interest in the aborigines without entailing any expense upon the Government. It is founded on the following fact.

26. The Government, in order to create a supply of labor in the Colonies, have been in the habit of giving certain rewards to those individuals who introduced laborers into them. Now it would appear that he, who reclaims one of the Aborigines, not only adds, another laborer to those who are already in the Colony, but further confers such a benefit on his fellow settlers by rendering one, who was before a useless and dangerous being, a .serviceable member of the community, that this circumstance alone entitles him to a reward.

27. 1 would therefore propose that, on the production of the hereafter named documents, a settler should receive a certificate entitling him to a certain sum. which should either be allowed to reckon towards the completion of location duties, or else as a remission certificate in the purchase of land; or in lieu of this a grant of land; and that this sum or grant should be regulated according to a table specifying the various circumstances that are likely to occur, and drawn up by the Local Government of each place where such regulation should be introduced. 

28. The documents to which I allude are these: 

1stly. A deposition before the nearest Magistrate to such settler's house, that a Native or Natives have been resident with him constantly for the last six months, and have been employed in stated species of labor.

2ndly. A Certificate from the Government Resident of the district that to the best of his belief such statement is true, for that, on his visiting this settler's house, the stated numbers of natives were there, and were respectively occupied in the kinds of labor described.

3d. A certificate from the Protector of Aborigines that he has visited this settler's house, that the stated number of Natives were resident there and appeared to be progressing in the knowledge of that branch of industry, in which they were respectively stated to be employed.

29. It would be further necessary that any settler, who intended to endeavour to reclaim natives, should give a short notice to the Protector of Aborigines, previously to the commencement of the first six months.

30. Could this plan be brought into operation the work of the civilization of the aborigines would at once be commenced upon a great scale; it; would not be confined to a single institution, but a variety of Individuals, endowed with different talents and capacities for this work, would at once be employed on it; it is indeed rather suited and intended for the outskirts of civilization, thinly populated by settlers, than for towns: yet it is applicable to both situations, whilst its direct operation would be to induce the settler adequately to remunerate the native for, as well as to provide him with, a constant supply of labor, and to use every exertion by kind and proper treatment to attach him for as long a period as possible to his Establishment.

31. In considering the kinds of labour in which it would be most advisable to engage natives, it should be borne in mind that, in remote districts were the European population is small, it would be imprudent to Induce many natives to congregate at any one point, and the kinds of labour in which they should be there engaged ought to be of such a nature as to have a tendency to scatter them over the country, and to distribute them amongst the separate establishments.

82. Whilst, in the well peopled districts where a force sufficient both to protect and control the aborigines exists, they should be induced to assemble in great numbers, for they work much more readily when employed in masses; and. by thus assembling them on one point, their numbers are diminished in those portions of the Colony which have a small European population, and they are concentrated at a spot where proper means for their improvement can be provided.

33. The first of these principles has been strictly attended to in the plan proposed in the 27th and following paragraphs of report; the second has been carried into successful operation in Western Australia.

34. In order that the work, on which the Natives are employed in the vicinity of towns, should be of the most advantageous nature, it is necessary that it should be productive of benefit both to themselves and the Government which employs them, so that it cannot be complained of as a useless expense, whilst at the same time it should be of such a kind as to accord with that love of excitement and change; which is so peculiar to this people.

35. Both of these ends would be attained by employing the Aborigines either in opening new roads or In repairing old lines of communication; Indeed this mode of employment is singularly suited to the habits of this people; they might be kept constantly moving from post to post, thus varying the scene of their operations; one portion of the party might be employed in hunting with kangaroo dogs or fishing, in order to supply the others with fresh meat; and the species of labor, in which the main body were engaged, might, if they wished it, be changed once or twice In the course of the day to prevent their being wearied by the monotonous character of their employment.

36. Among other enactments, which I believe would have a tendency to promote the civilization of the Aborigines, and which are applicable to those districts in which for some time great intercourse has existed between the natives and Europeans, are the following:

57. "That any Native, who could produce a Certificate (from the Protector of Aborigines) of having been constantly employed at the house of any settlers for a period of not less than three years, should be entitled to a grant of land, the extent of which should be fixed by the Local Government of the Colony, to which such Native should belong, and that, if possible, this grant should be given in that district to which this native by birth belonged."

"That, in addition to this grant, he should receive a sum of money, the amount of which should also be fixed by the Local Government, and which should be drawn from the funds raised by the sale of Government Lands, and which sum should be expended in goats, poultry, etc., so as to enable the native in some manner to stock his land."

"That any native having only one wife, who produced a certificate of the civil marriage contract have been performed between himself and her by the Resident of the District to which he belonged, should be entitled to a small reward."

" That any Natives, who registered duly the birth of any of their children, should be entitled to a small reward."

"'That some competent person should be paid to instruct two native boys in such a manner us to qualify them to act as Interpreters in Courts of Law, and that, as soon as they are found competent they should be employed for this purpose."

I believe that many other regulations similar to these would be found to produce a very beneficial effect."

 [Source: Historical Records of Australia. 8 October 1840 pp. 38-40]