Date of Award
Bachelor of Arts Honours
School of International, Cultural and Community Studies
Faculty of Community Services, Education and Social Sciences
Dr Peggy Brock
In the late 1950s, a community of Aboriginal people had formed a camp at ‘Allawah Grove' in South Guildford, Perth. The public and the Western Australian Government considered them a nuisance, and wished to remove them from the area. But in 1960, a voluntary organization known as the Native Welfare Council offered to provide the Allawah Grove residents with supervision, housing and training. Their aim was to equip residents with the knowledge and skills that would enable them to live successfully as nuclear families in mainstream society. In the 1960s Aboriginal welfare policy was informed by social assimilation theory. Governments believed that providing Aboriginal people with the same opportunities that mainstream Australians enjoyed would allow them to achieve equality with the rest of the community. The Native Welfare Council's view was that for Aboriginal people to be able to take advantage of these opportunities, they required training. So, they translated the government's assimilation policy into practice at Allawah Grove providing residents with training in an encouraging, non-institutionalised environment. Allawah Grove residents were given the option of attending adult education classes and had their own representative body- the Allawah Grove Progress Association. To prepare Aboriginal people for living as a nuclear family in mainstream society, male residents were taught skills for employment and female residents learnt homemaking and childcare skills. For various reasons, training for female residents was more 'successful' than training for male residents. This disrupted the functional nature of the nuclear family, and thereby reduced the residents' ability to live successfully in mainstream society. The Council's aim had been to use Allawah Grove to prepare Aboriginal people for living in mainstream society. But the majority of Allawah Grove residents did not see their future in mainstream society, instead envisaging living permanently as an Aboriginal community at Allawah Grove.
Lapham, A. (2002). Assimilation, Theory, Policy and Practice : The Native Welfare Council's Experiment in Preparing Aboriginal Families at Allawah Grove for Assimilation 1961-1968. Retrieved from http://ro.ecu.edu.au/theses_hons/923