From Papua to Western Australia : Middleton's implementation of Social Assimilation Policy, 1948-1962

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


School of Communications and Arts


Faculty of Education and Arts


In 1948, after twenty years in the Papuan administration, Stanley Middleton became the Western Australian Commissioner of Native Affairs. State and Federal governments at that time had a policy of social assimilation towards Aboriginal people, who were expected to live in the same manner as other Australians, accepting the same responsibilties, observing the same customs and influenced by the same beliefs, hopes and loyalties. European civilization was seen as the pinnacle of development. Thus both giving Aboriginal people the opportunity to reach this pinnacle and believing they were equally capable of reaching this pinnacle was viewed as a progessive and humanitarian act. Aboriginal cultural beliefs and loyalties were not considered important, if they were recognized at all, because they were seen as primitive or as having being abandoned in favour of a Western lifestyle.

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