Slavery in Australia

Last updated

Slavery in Australia has existed in various forms from colonisation in 1788 to the present day. European settlement relied heavily on convicts, sent to Australia as punishment for crimes and forced into labour and often leased to private individuals. Many Aboriginal Australians were also forced into various forms of slavery and unfree labour from colonisation. Some Indigenous Australians performed unpaid labour until the 1970s.

Contents

Pacific Islanders were kidnapped or coerced to come to Australia and work, in a practice known as blackbirding. Labourers were also imported from India and China, and employed in various degrees of unfree labour. Legal protections varied and were sometimes not enforced, particularly with workers who were effectively forced to work for their employers and would often go unpaid.

Australia was held to the Slave Trade Act 1807 as well as the Slavery Abolition Act 1833, which abolished slavery in the British Empire.

Types of slavery

Convicts

Many of the convicts transported to the Australian penal colonies were treated like slave labour. William Hill, an officer aboard the Second Fleet, wrote that "the slave traffic is merciful compared with what I have seen in this fleet [...] the more they can withhold from the unhappy wretches, the more provisions they have to dispose of at a foreign market, and the earlier in the voyage they die, the longer they can draw the deceased's allowance to themselves". Once the convicts arrived in Australia they were subjected to the system of "assigned service", whereby they were leased out to private citizens and placed entirely under their control, often forced to work in chain gangs. The unwillingness of wealthy landowners to give up this cheap source of labour was a key factor in why penal transportation persisted for so long, especially in Van Diemen's Land where "assigned service" continued to be widespread until the 1850s. [1]

Coolies

With the ceasing of convict transportation to New South Wales becoming imminent by the late 1830s, colonists required a substitute cheap form of labour. In 1837 a Committee on Immigration identified the possibility of importing coolie labourers from India and China as a solution. John Mackay, an owner of indigo plantations in Bengal and a distillery in Sydney, organised the import of 42 coolies from India who arrived on 24 December 1837 on board Peter Proctor. This was the first sizeable transport of coolie labour into Australia and Mackay leased most of them out as shepherds to work at John Lord's Underbank land-holding just north of Dungog. [2] The contracts included a 5 or 6 year term of indenture with food, clothing, pay and shelter to be provided, but many absconded, due to reasons of these conditions not being met. The coolies were also subject to assault, slavery, and kidnap. [3]

Government enquiries delayed further coolie importation, but in 1842 a number of colonists, including William Wentworth and Gordon Sandeman, formed an Association to Import Coolies to pressure the colonial government into allowing further intakes. [4] The following year, Major G.F. Davidson imported 30 Indian coolies into Melbourne, and in 1844 Sandeman and Phillip Freil organised a shipment of 30 Indian coolies, most of whom were sent to work on their properties in the Lockyer Valley. Wentworth and Robert Towns arranged a shipment of 56 Indian coolies who arrived in a state of starvation in 1846. [5] These coolies went either to labour on Wentworth's pastoral properties such as Burburgate on the Namoi River or worked as servants at his Vaucluse House mansion. Some were leased out to Helenus Scott's Glendon property in the Hunter Valley. Many of these coolies were subject to beatings, were left unpaid, unfed or unclothed, and some died of exposure or by attacks. Those who protested their condition as breach of contract were often imprisoned. [6] [7]

Indian coolie transportation was largely discontinued after this but the first shipment of 150 Chinese coolies arrived in Melbourne in 1847 aboard the brig Adelaide and another 31 arrived in Perth a year later. Toward the end of 1848, Nimrod and Phillip Laing brought a further 420 mostly Chinese coolies into the Port Phillip District. Many of these coolies were abandoned, perished in the bush, were jailed, or were found wandering the streets of Melbourne with no food or shelter. [8] Around another 1500 Chinese coolies were shipped into Australia up to the year 1854 with Robert Towns and Gordon Sandeman again being the principal organisers of the trade. A number of scandals occurred that caused a government select committee to be formed to investigate the importation of Asiatic labour. The inquiry found that 70 coolies had died aboard General Palmer during the voyage from Amoy to Sydney and that others had died from sickness once in Australia. There were no berths, bedding, medical, or toilet facilities available on the vessel and a great deal of kidnapping was involved in the recruitment process. [9] The poor conditions on board the vessel Spartan, chartered by Robert Towns, sparked a rebellion of coolies against the crew of the ship. The second-mate and ten of the Chinese were killed before the captain was able to regain control. Out of nearly 250 coolies who had embarked on Spartan, only 180 arrived in Australia. [10] These events together with concurrent disasters in the Chinese coolie trade to Cuba and Peru, ended Asian coolie transportation to Australia by 1855. From 1858, Chinese migration to Australia again spiked due to the gold rushes, but this was mostly voluntary travel. [11]

Forced Indigenous labour and stolen wages

From the early stages of the British colonisation of Australia right up until the 1960s, Aboriginal Australians and Torres Strait Islanders were used as unpaid labour in many sectors such as the pastoralist industry, beche-de-mer harvesting, pearling, the boiling down industry, marsupial eradication, and prostitution, they were also used as household servants. In return for this labour, the Indigenous people were given portions of inexpensive commodities such as tobacco, rum, slop-clothing, flour and offal. [12] Trade in Aboriginal children and adolescents was often sought after. Children were often taken from Aboriginal camp-sites after punitive expeditions and they were used as either personal servants or as labour by the colonists who took them. [13] Sometimes these children were taken very far away from their lands and traded to other colonists. For instance, Mary Durack described how one of her relatives in the Kimberley region bought an Aboriginal boy from Queensland for a tin of jam. [14] [15]

Academic and legal debate has focused on whether the conditions under which Aboriginal people worked constituted slavery. [16]

In the pastoralist sector, unpaid labour also allowed Aboriginal people to stay on their land instead of being forced off or massacred. [17]

Anti-slavery campaigners described the conditions of Aboriginal labour in northern Australia as slavery as far back as the 1860s. In 1891 the British journal Anti-Slavery Reporter published a "Slave Map of Modern Australia". [18]

In Queensland, the Aboriginals Protection and Restriction of the Sale of Opium Act 1897 and successive legislation allowed the Protector of Aborigines to keep wages in funds which were never paid out. [18] From 1897, no person could employ Indigenous labour in that state without the permission of a Protector. The Protector, usually a policeman or government official, had full control of the contract with the employer. Fraud was common, whereby the Protectors would collude with the employers, mostly pastoralists, to underpay or not pay the Aboriginal workers. Those who refused to work were jailed, threatened with removal or denied access to food. Aboriginal settlements were run as depots for cheap labour where a 20% levy was placed on the inmates' already meagre wages, with the remainder held in a departmental trust account. The money in this account was subject to additional levies, bureaucratic corruption and also appropriated for government spending. The interest earned also went to the government not the wage earner. Aboriginal workers had to get permission from the Protector to make withdrawals and asking questions about their money were often met with the workers being jailed or otherwise punished. This system has been described as "economic slavery" and existed in largely the same format in the state until the mid 1970s. [19] [17] [20]

After Federation in 1901, where Aboriginal labour was legislated as requiring payment in money, these wages were often kept in bank accounts that could not be accessed by them, with the money being redirected elsewhere by government bureaucracies. [17]

Through the 20th century, the British Commonwealth League, the North Australian Workers’ Union, anthropologists Ronald and Catherine Berndt, artist Albert Namatjira and others raised concerns about the slave-like conditions under which many Aboriginal people worked. [18]

The Aborigines Act 1911 gave South Australian police powers to “inspect workers and their conditions” but not to enforce change. [18]

On cattle stations in the Northern Territory (NT), Aboriginal workers not only lived in very poor conditions (no built accommodation, having to use water from the cattle trough), but they were given no money, only food. Clothing was lent but had to be returned. The Aboriginals Ordinance 1918 (Cth) allowed the non-payment of wages and forced recruitment of labour in the NT. NT Protector Cecil Cook noted that Australia was in breach of its obligations under the League of Nations Slavery Convention in the 1930s. [18]

When wages started being paid with cash in the 1950s and 1960s, they were still much less (reportedly 15–20%) of white people doing similar work. In 1966 the NT's Wave Hill walk-off, a strike by Gurindji workers led by Vincent Lingiari brought international attention to the injustice of the system, and eventually led to the government mandating equal pay from December 1968. However, at the same time, mechanisation of the stations led to most workers being laid off, and the policy of assimilation meant that the government was placing Aboriginal people on reserves with minimal facilities instead. [21] [22]

Legislation governing and regulating the forced employment of Indigenous Australians continued until the 1970s in some states. [23] [24]

2006 stolen wages inquiry

In 2006 a parliamentary inquiry tried to find out how much in wages had been withheld from Indigenous workers across Australia, but found the practice was so extensive that it could not reach a figure. [23] [25] Known officially as the Senate Legal and Constitutional References Committee Inquiry into Stolen Wages, the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission made a submission to it. [26] The Inquiry recommended that state governments must open their archives to improve access, fund awareness campaigns, and provide legal assistance to potential claimants. Stolen wages commissions were set up in Western Australia (March–November 2012 [27] ), Queensland (2015 [28] ), and New South Wales (2004–2011 [29] ). [30] [31]

Political campaigns led by trade unions and community groups have been advocating strongly for reparations, particularly in Queensland and New South Wales, and somewhat less strongly in Western Australia and Victoria, but there has been much research conducted on the topic of stolen wages in Victoria. The Wampan Wages Victorian Stolen Wages Working Group has been the peak body in that state. As of 2014, there was still no reparation scheme in Victoria. [32]

Recent estimates have suggested that up to A$500 million may have been withheld in just Queensland from 1920 to 1970. [23]

2016–2019 Queensland class action

In 2015 the Stolen Wages Reparations Task Force was established by the Queensland Government to provide advice and recommendations relating to "The Reparations Scheme –Stolen Wages and Savings", which was due to conclude in 2018. Mick Gooda was appointed as chair. [28]

In September 2016 a class action was started by eighty-year-old Hans Pearson, [33] in the Federal Court of Australia against the Queensland Government. Known as “The Stolen Wages Class Action”, the case was known as Pearson v State of Queensland . It concerns payment for work done from 1939 to 1972 by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Queensland. [34] It represented about 10,000 Aboriginal Queenslanders, of whom about 60 percent were already deceased, [33] and was settled in July 2019 with a payout of A$190,000,000. [35] [36] This was the fifth-largest class action settlement in Australia, aside from native title claims, the biggest ever payout to Indigenous Australians. [37]

The lawsuit claimed that the legislation in force from 1939 to 1972 allowed the wages of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander workers to be stolen. [38] The payout represented wages that had been withheld by the state government, which often deposited it into trust funds inaccessible to Indigenous people, which was enabled under the legislation described above. This settlement, based on the legal claim that the government "breached its duty as a trustee and fiduciary in not paying out wages that were held in trust", and based on archived records, was the first recognition that claims for stolen wages have some legal and ethical justification. Previous actions by claimants in Western Australia, New South Wales and Queensland had not been successful. [35]

The payout was reduced by about A$53 million in the costs of litigation. Because of the lack of records, the court relied on anthropological evidence to determine the entitlements, grouping people based on age; it was not intended to be a precise calculation of what was owed because this was impossible to determine. Moneys were not paid out to grandchildren, and men received more than women as it was calculated that more was withheld from them. [37]

However, the legal justification under which this settlement was awarded does not necessarily apply across all sectors and jurisdictions; different issues arise where private employers are involved. Historically, the majority of Aboriginal workers were employed on cattle stations across northern Australia, from Queensland, across the Northern Territory to Western Australia, numbering tens of thousands between the 1880s and 1970s. Indigenous labour kept the industry afloat during the Great Depression in Australia. The law allowed wages of two-thirds that of non-Indigenous workers, but employers could get away with paying less, and unlike Queensland government archives, few records of these transactions exist. [35]

2020 WA class action

In October 2020 a class action was started against the Western Australian Government, with more than a thousand people registered for the claim. [23] [39] [40]

2021 Northern Territory class action

As of September 2021 more than 770 former stockmen, farmhands, domestic workers and labourers in the Northern Territory have joined in a class action to recover stolen wages, as well as reparations such as truth telling. [21]

Blackbirding

The first shipload of 65 Melanesian labourers arrived in Boyd Town on 16 April 1847 on board the Velocity, a vessel under the command of Captain Kirsopp and chartered by Benjamin Boyd. [41] Boyd was a Scottish colonist who wanted cheap labourers to work at his expansive pastoral leaseholds in the colony of New South Wales. He financed two more procurements of South Sea Islanders, 70 of which arrived in Sydney in September 1847, and another 57 in October of that same year. [42] [43] Many of these Islanders soon absconded from their workplaces and were observed starving and destitute on the streets of Sydney. [44] Reports of violence, kidnap and murder used during the recruitment of these labourers surfaced in 1848 with a closed-door enquiry choosing not to take any action against Boyd or Kirsopp. [45] The experiment of exploiting Melanesian labour was discontinued in Australia until Robert Towns recommenced the practice in the early 1860s.

In 1863, Robert Towns wanted to profit from the world-wide cotton shortage due to the American Civil War. He bought a property he named Townsvale on the Logan River and planted 400 acres of cotton. Towns also wanted cheap labour to harvest and prepare the cotton and decided to import Melanesian labour from the Loyalty Islands and the New Hebrides. Captain Grueber together with labour recruiter Henry Ross Lewin aboard the Don Juan, brought 73 South Sea Islanders to the port of Brisbane in August 1863. [46] Towns specifically wanted adolescent males recruited and kidnapping was reportedly employed in obtaining these boys. [47] [48] Over the following two years, Towns imported around 400 more Melanesians to Townsvale on one to three year terms of labour. They came on the vessels Uncle Tom and Black Dog. In 1865, Towns obtained large land leases in Far North Queensland and funded the establishment of the port of Townsville. He organised the first importation of South Sea Islander labour to that port in 1866. They came aboard Blue Bell under Captain Edwards. [49] Apart from a small amount of Melanesian labour imported for the beche-de-mer trade around Bowen, [50] Robert Towns was the primary exploiter of blackbirded labour up til 1867. [51]

From 1867, the high demand for very cheap labour in the sugar and pastoral industries of Queensland, led Towns' main labour recruiter, Henry Ross Lewin, and another recruiter by the name of John Crossley opening their services to other land-owners. This resulted in a massive increase in blackbirded labour into Queensland which continued for another approximately 35 years. Traders "recruited" Melanesian or Kanaka labourers for the sugar cane fields of Queensland, from the New Hebrides (now Vanuatu), Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands and the Loyalty Islands of New Caledonia as well as various Micronesian islands such as Kiribati and the Gilbert Islands.

In the late 1860s, these labourers were allegedly sold for as little as £2 each and kidnapping was at least partially used during recruitment, which raised fears of a burgeoning new slave trade. [52] [53] [54] [55] French officials in New Caledonia complained that Crossley had stolen half the inhabitants of a village in Lifou, and in 1868 a scandal evolved when Captain McEachern of the ship Syren anchored in Brisbane with 24 dead islander recruits and reports that the remaining ninety on board were taken by force and deception. Despite the controversy, no action was taken against McEachern or Crossley. [56] [57]

The methods of blackbirding were varied. Some labourers were willing to be taken to Australia to work, while others were tricked or forced. In some cases blackbirding ships (which made huge profits) would entice entire villages by luring them on board for trade or a religious service, and then setting sail. Many died in the fields due to the hard manual labour. [58]

From 1868, the Queensland government tried to regulate the trade: it required every ship engaged in recruiting labourers from the Pacific islands to carry a person approved by the government to ensure that labourers were willingly recruited and not kidnapped. But, such government observers were often corrupted by bonuses paid for labourers 'recruited,' or blinded by alcohol, and did little or nothing to prevent sea-captains from tricking islanders on-board or otherwise engaging in kidnapping with violence. Joe Melvin, an investigative journalist who, undercover, in 1892 joined the crew of Queensland blackbirding ship Helena toward the end of the blackbirding era, found no instances of intimidation or misrepresentation and concluded that the Islanders recruited did so "willingly and cannily". [59] However, the Helena transported Islanders to and from Bundaberg and in this region there was a very large mortality rate of Kanakas in 1892 and 1893. South Sea Islanders made up 50% of all deaths in this period even though they only made up 20% of the total population in the Bundaberg area. [60]

Adolescent South Sea Islanders on a Herbert River plantation in the early 1870s Kanakas early 1870s.png
Adolescent South Sea Islanders on a Herbert River plantation in the early 1870s

Recruiting of South Sea Islanders became an established industry during the 1870s with captains of labour vessels being paid about 5 shillings per recruit in "head money" incentives, while the owners of the ships would sell the Kanakas from anywhere between £4 to £20 per head. [61] The Kanakas were sometimes offloaded at the ports in Queenlsand with metal discs imprinted with a numeral hung around their neck making for easy identification for their buyers. [62] Captain Winship of the Lyttona was accused of kidnapping and importing Kanaka boys aged between 12 and 15 years for the plantations of George Raff at Caboolture. [63] Up to 45 of the Kanakas brought in by Captain John Coath died on plantations around the Mary River. [64] Meanwhile, the famous recruiter Henry Ross Lewin was charged with the rape of a pubescent Islander girl. Despite strong evidence, Lewin was acquitted and the girl was later sold in Brisbane for £20. [56]

The South Sea Islanders were put to work not only in cane-fields along the Queensland coast but were also widely used as shepherds upon the large sheep stations in the interior and as pearl divers in the Torres Strait. They were taken as far west as Hughenden, Normanton and Blackall. When the owners of the properties they were labouring on went bankrupt, the Islanders would often either be abandoned [65] or sold as part of the estate to a new owner. [66] In the Torres Strait, Kanakas were left at isolated pearl fisheries such as the Warrior Reefs for years with little hope of being returned home. [67] In this region, three ships used to procure pearl-shells and beche-de-mer, including the Challenge were owned by James Merriman who held the position of Mayor of Sydney. [68]

Poor conditions at the sugar plantations led to regular outbreaks of disease and death. From 1875 to 1880, at least 443 Kanakas died in the Maryborough region from gastrointestinal and pulmonary disease at a rate 10 times above average. The Yengarie, Yarra Yarra and Irrawarra plantations belonging to Robert Cran were particularly bad. An investigation revealed that the Islanders were overworked, underfed, not provided with medical assistance and that the water supply was a stagnant drainage pond. [69] At the port of Mackay, the labour schooner Isabella arrived with half the Kanakas recruited dying on the voyage from dysentery, [70] while Captain John Mackay (after whom the city of Mackay is named), arrived at Rockhampton in the Flora with a cargo of Kanakas, of which a considerable number were in a dead or dying condition. [71] [72]

Captain William T. Wawn, a famous blackbirder working for the Burns Philp company on the ship Lizzie, freely acknowledged in his memoirs that he took boatloads of young boys with no information given about contracts, pay or the nature of the work. [61] Up to 530 boys were recruited per month from these islands, most of whom were transported to the new large company plantations in Far North Queensland, such as the Victoria Plantation owned by CSR. This phase of the trade was very profitable, with Burns Philp selling each recruit for around £23. [56] Many of them could not speak any English and died on these plantations at a rate of up to 1 in every 5. [73]

Charges of neglect resulting in the death of his Islander labourers were made against Mr Melhuish of the Yeppoon Sugar Plantation. He was placed on trial, but even though he was found responsible, the judge involved imposed only the minimum £5 fine and wished it could be an even lesser amount. [74] When the Yeppoon Sugar Plantation was later put up for sale, the Islander labourers were included as part of the estate. [75] During a riot at the Mackay racetrack, several South Sea Islanders were beaten to death by mounted white men wielding stirrup irons. Only one man, George Goyner, was convicted and received a minor punishment of two months imprisonment. [76]

In 1884, a significant and unique judicial punishment was imposed on the captain and crew of the blackbirding vessel Hopeful. Captain Lewis Shaw and four crew were charged and convicted of various crimes, receiving jail terms of 7 to 10 years, while two others were sentenced to death, later commuted to life imprisonment. Despite evidence showing that at least 38 Islanders had been killed by the Hopeful crew, all the prisoners (except for one who died in jail) were released in 1890 in response to a massive public petition signed by 28,000 Queenslanders. [76] This case sparked a Royal Commission into the recruitment of Islanders from which the Premier of Queensland concluded that it was no better than the African slave trade, [77] and in 1885 a ship was commissioned by the Government of Queensland to return 450 New Guinea Islanders to their homelands. [78] Just like the global slave trade, the plantation owners, instead of being held criminally responsible, were financially compensated by the government for the loss of these workers. [79]

Some 55,000 to 62,500 South Sea Islanders were taken to Australia. [80] The majority of the 10,000 Pacific Islanders remaining in Australia in 1901 were repatriated from 1906–08 under the provisions of the Pacific Island Labourers Act 1901 . [81] A 1992 census of South Sea Islanders reported around 10,000 descendants of the blackbirded labourers living in Queensland. Fewer than 3,500 were reported in the 2001 Australian census. [80]

Pearling

Indigenous Australians, [82] Malaysians, Timorese, and Micronesians were kidnapped and sold as slave-labour for the pearling industry of north western Australia. [83]

Modern slavery

According to the Global Slavery Index, there were approximately 15,000 people living in illegal "conditions of modern slavery" in Australia in 2016. During the 2015–16 financial year, 169 alleged human trafficking and slavery offences were referred to the Australian Federal Police (AFP), including alleged instances of forced marriage, sexual exploitation, and forced labour. As of 2017, the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions had prosecuted 19 individuals for slavery-related offences since 2004, with several other prosecutions ongoing. [84]

The introduction of the Modern Slavery Act 2018 [85] into Australian law was partly based upon concerns of slavery being evident in the agricultural sector. [86]

The "History Wars"

The assertion that slavery took place in Australia in colonial times is often disputed, as part of the ongoing "history wars" about Australia's past. In June 2020 the Australian Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, stated on 2GB radio in Sydney that "Australia when it was founded as a settlement, as New South Wales, was on the basis that there be no slavery... and while slave ships continued to travel around the world, when Australia was established, yes sure, it was a pretty brutal settlement... but there was no slavery in Australia". [87] After attracting reproach by aboriginal activists and other sectors of the community, [38] Morrison apologised for any offence caused the following day, and said that he was talking specifically about the colony of New South Wales. [88]

Colonisation funded by slavery elsewhere

In the nineteenth century there were also many beneficiaries of slavery practised overseas who came to the Australian colonies or who financed settlement of the colonies. Historians have shown that the wealth made from slavery helped finance the colonisation of Australia, [89] in particular the colonisation of South Australia [90] and Victoria. [91]

Among others, Lachlan Macquarie, Governor of New South Wales; James Stirling, founding Governor of Western Australia; Edward Eyre Williams, Supreme Court of Victoria judge; and Reverend Robert Allwood, vicar of Sydney's St James' Church and later University of Sydney Vice-Chancellor (1869-1883), were all given wealth and opportunities thanks to money generated by slavery in the British West Indies. [92]

See also

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">White Australia policy</span> Historical racial policies in Australia

The White Australia policy is a term encapsulating a set of historical policies that aimed to forbid people of non-European ethnic origin, especially Asians and Pacific Islanders, from immigrating to Australia, starting in 1901. Governments progressively dismantled such policies between 1949 and 1973.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Bundaberg</span> City in Queensland, Australia

Bundaberg is a city in the Bundaberg Region, Queensland, Australia, and is the tenth largest city in the state. Bundaberg's regional area has a population of 70,921, and is a major centre of the Wide Bay–Burnett geographical region. The Bundaberg central business district is situated along the southern bank of the Burnett River, about 20 km (12 mi) from its mouth at Burnett Heads, and flows into the Coral Sea. The city is sited on a rich coastal plain, supporting one of the nation's most productive agricultural regions. The area of Bundaberg is the home of the Taribelang-Bunda peoples. Popular nicknames for Bundaberg include "Bundy" and "Rum city". The demonym of Bundaberg is Bundabergian.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Kanaka (Pacific Island worker)</span> 1800s–1900s Pacific Islander employed in British colonies

Kanakas were workers from various Pacific Islands employed in British colonies, such as British Columbia (Canada), Fiji, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, Papua New Guinea and Queensland (Australia) in the 19th and early 20th centuries. They also worked in California and Chile.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Indentured servitude</span> Consensual or punitive unpaid labor

Indentured servitude is a form of labor in which a person is contracted to work without salary for a specific number of years. The contract, called an "indenture", may be entered voluntarily for eventual compensation or debt repayment, or it may be imposed as a judicial punishment. Historically, it has been used to pay for apprenticeships, typically when an apprentice agreed to work for free for a master tradesman to learn a trade. Later it was also used as a way for a person to pay the cost of transportation to colonies in the Americas.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Coolie</span> Labourer from Asia

A coolie is a term for a low-wage labourer, typically of South Asian or East Asian descent.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Blackbirding</span> Coerced labour, mainly in the southeast Pacific

Blackbirding involves the coercion of people through deception or kidnapping to work as slaves or poorly paid labourers in countries distant from their native land. The term has been most commonly applied to the large-scale taking of people indigenous to the numerous islands in the Pacific Ocean during the 19th and 20th centuries. These blackbirded people were called Kanakas or South Sea Islanders. They were taken from places such as Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, Niue, Easter Island, the Gilbert Islands, Tuvalu, the Fiji islands and the islands of the Bismarck Archipelago amongst others.

The Australian labour movement began in the early 19th century and since the late 19th century has included industrial and political wings. Trade unions in Australia may be organised on the basis of craft unionism, general unionism, or industrial unionism. Almost all unions in Australia are affiliated with the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU), many of which have undergone a significant process of amalgamations, especially in the late 1980s and early 1990s. The leadership and membership of unions hold and have at other times held a wide range of political views, including communist, socialist and right-wing views.

CSR Limited is a major Australian industrial company, producing building products and having a 25% share in the Tomago aluminium smelter located near Newcastle, New South Wales. It is publicly traded on the Australian Securities Exchange. In 2021, it had over 3,000 employees and reported an after-tax profit of $146 million. The company has a diversified shareholding with predominantly Australian fund managers and retail owners. The group's corporate headquarters is in North Ryde, Sydney.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Ingham, Queensland</span> Town in Queensland, Australia

Ingham is a rural town and locality in the Shire of Hinchinbrook, Queensland, Australia. In the 2016 census, the locality of Ingham had a population of 4,426 people. It is named after William Bairstow Ingham and is the administrative centre for the Shire of Hinchinbrook.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">South Sea Islanders</span> Australian descendants of Pacific Islanders

South Sea Islanders are the Australian descendants of Pacific Islanders from more than 80 islands – including the Oceanian archipelagoes of the Solomon Islands, New Caledonia, Vanuatu, Fiji, the Gilbert Islands and New Ireland – who were kidnapped or recruited between the mid to late 19th century as labourers in the sugarcane fields of Queensland. Some were kidnapped or tricked into long-term indentured service. At its height, the recruiting accounted for over half the adult male population of some islands.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Faith Bandler</span> Australian civil rights activist

Faith Bandler was an Australian civil rights activist of South Sea Islander and Scottish-Indian heritage. A campaigner for the rights of Indigenous Australians and South Sea Islanders, she was best known for her leadership in the campaign for the 1967 referendum on Aboriginal Australians.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Pacific Island Labourers Act 1901</span>

The Pacific Island Labourers Act 1901 was an Act of the Parliament of Australia which was designed to facilitate the mass deportation of nearly all the Pacific Islanders working in Australia, especially in the Queensland sugar industry. Along with the Immigration Restriction Act 1901, enacted six days later, it formed an important part of the White Australia policy. In 1901, there were approximately 10,000 Pacific Islanders working in Australia, most in the sugar cane industry in Queensland and northern New South Wales, many working as indentured labourers. The Act ultimately resulted in the deportation of approximately 7,500 Pacific Islanders.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Robert Towns</span> Australian politician

Robert Towns was a British master mariner who settled in Australia as a businessman, sandalwood merchant, colonist, shipowner, pastoralist, politician, whaler and civic leader. He was the founder of Townsville, Queensland.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">John Mackay (Australian pioneer)</span>

John Mackay was a Scottish Highlands-born explorer, sailor, blackbirder and harbourmaster, best known for having the town of Mackay in Australia named after him.

The Indian indenture system was a system of indentured servitude, by which more than one million Indians were transported to labour in European colonies, as a substitute for slave labor, following the abolition of the trade in the early 19th century. The system expanded after the abolition of slavery in the British Empire in 1833, in the French colonies in 1848, and in the Dutch Empire in 1863. British Indian indentureship lasted till the 1920s. This resulted in the development of a large Indian diaspora in the Caribbean, Natal, East Africa, Réunion, Mauritius, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Myanmar, British Guyana, to Fiji, as well as the growth of Indo-Caribbean, Indo-African, Indo-Fijian, Indo-Malaysian, Indo-Guyanese and Indo-Singaporean populations.

Indigenous Australians or Australian First Nations are people with familial heritage from, and membership in, the ethnic groups that lived in Australia before British colonisation. They consist of two distinct groups: the Aboriginal peoples of the Australian mainland and Tasmania, and the Torres Strait Islander peoples from the seas between Queensland and Papua New Guinea. The term Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples or the person's specific cultural group, is often preferred, though the terms First Nations of Australia, First Peoples of Australia and First Australians are also increasingly common; 812,728 people self-identified as being of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander origin in the 2021 Australian Census, representing 3.2% of the total population of Australia. Of these indigenous Australians, 91.4% identified as Aboriginal; 4.2% identified as Torres Strait Islander; while 4.4% identified with both groups. Since 1995, the Australian Aboriginal flag and the Torres Strait Islander flag have been among the official flags of Australia.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Sunnyside Sugar Plantation</span> Historic site in Queensland, Australia

Sunnyside Sugar Plantation is the heritage-listed remains of a former sugar plantation at 94 Windermere Road, Windermere, Bundaberg Region, Queensland, Australia. It was built in c. 1880s by South Sea Islander labour. It is also known as Dry-rubble Boundary Wall. It was added to the Queensland Heritage Register on 13 May 1996.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">John Ewen Davidson</span> (1841–1923) sugar-planter and slave holder in Australia

John Ewen Davidson was a colonist sugar planter, slave owner, murderer, and miller in Queensland.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">History of Fiji</span> Occurrences and people in Fiji throughout history

The majority of Fiji's islands were formed through volcanic activity starting around 150 million years ago. Today, some geothermic activity still occurs on the is lands of Vanua Levu and Taveuni. Fiji was settled first by the Lapita culture, around 1,500–1,000 years BCE, followed by a large influx of people with predominantly Melanesian genetics about the time of the beginning of the Common Era. Europeans visited Fiji from the 17th century, and, after a brief period as an independent kingdom, the British established the Colony of Fiji in 1874. Fiji was a Crown colony until 1970, when it gained independence as the Dominion of Fiji. A republic was declared in 1987, following a series of coups d'état.

Henry Ross Lewin or Henry Ross-Lewin was one of the most prominent blackbirders of South Sea Islander labour in the 19th Century. He worked with Robert Towns in the early 1860s to establish this labour trade in the British colony of Queensland. He later worked as an independent recruiter of Islander labour for himself and other capitalists. Ross-Lewin also formed a plantation on the island of Tanna where he was killed in 1874.

References

  1. Convict slavery in Australia
  2. Ohlsson, Tony. "The origins of a white Australia". The free library. Journal of the Royal Australian Historical Society. Retrieved 3 May 2019.
  3. "The Indian "Hill Coolies."". The Sydney Monitor . Vol. XIII, no. 1158. New South Wales, Australia. 28 February 1838. p. 2 (EVENING). Retrieved 3 May 2019 via National Library of Australia.
  4. "Original Correspondence". Port Phillip Patriot And Melbourne Advertiser. Vol. V, no. 416. Victoria, Australia. 10 November 1842. p. 4. Retrieved 3 May 2019 via National Library of Australia.
  5. "THE COOLIE IMMIGRANTS PER "ORWELL."". The Spectator. Vol. I, no. 12. New South Wales, Australia. 11 April 1846. p. 134. Retrieved 3 May 2019 via National Library of Australia.
  6. "Original Correspondence". The Maitland Mercury and Hunter River General Advertiser . Vol. V, no. 274. New South Wales, Australia. 17 February 1847. p. 4. Retrieved 3 May 2019 via National Library of Australia.
  7. "Maitland". Sydney Chronicle . Vol. 4, no. 325. New South Wales, Australia. 14 November 1846. p. 2. Retrieved 3 May 2019 via National Library of Australia.
  8. "Colonial News". The Maitland Mercury and Hunter River General Advertiser . Vol. VII, no. 522. New South Wales, Australia. 4 July 1849. p. 3. Retrieved 8 May 2019 via National Library of Australia.
  9. "ASIATIC LABOUR [?]". The Sydney Morning Herald . Vol. XXXV, no. 5450. New South Wales, Australia. 2 December 1854. p. 4. Retrieved 8 May 2019 via National Library of Australia.
  10. "PIRACY ON BOARD THE "SPARTAN."". Adelaide Morning Chronicle . Vol. II, no. 140. South Australia. 15 March 1853. p. 4. Retrieved 8 May 2019 via National Library of Australia.
  11. "CHINESE IMMIGRATION". Empire . No. 2, 344. New South Wales, Australia. 10 July 1858. p. 4. Retrieved 8 May 2019 via National Library of Australia.
  12. Reynolds, Henry (2006), The other side of the frontier : Aboriginal resistance to the European invasion of Australia, University of New South Wales Press, ISBN   978-0-86840-892-7
  13. Bottoms, Timothy (2013), The conspiracy of silence : Queensland's frontier killing-times, Allen & Unwin, ISBN   978-1-74331-382-4
  14. Durack, Mary (1959), Kings in grass castles, Constable and Co, retrieved 4 May 2019
  15. Durack, Mary (1983), Sons in the saddle , Constable ; Australia : Hutchinson, ISBN   978-0-09-148420-0
  16. Gray, Stephen (1 December 2007). "The Elephant in the Drawing Room: Slavery and the 'Stolen Wages' Debate"". Australian Indigenous Law Review . 11 (1). Retrieved 6 January 2022 via Australasian Legal Information Institute (AustLII).
  17. 1 2 3 Kidd, Rosalind (2017), The way we civilise (Updated and revised ed.), University of Queensland Press, ISBN   978-0-7022-2961-9
  18. 1 2 3 4 5 Gray, Stephen; Anthony, Thalia (11 June 2020). "Was there slavery in Australia? Yes. It shouldn't even be up for debate". The Conversation. Retrieved 12 June 2020.
  19. Rowley, C. D. (Charles Dunford); Social Science Research Council of Australia (1971), Outcasts in white Australia, Australian National University Press, ISBN   978-0-7081-0624-2
  20. Blake, Thom (2001), A dumping ground : a history of the Cherbourg settlement, University of Queensland Press, ISBN   978-0-7022-3222-0
  21. 1 2 Rowley, Max (1 September 2021). "It's 55 years since the Wave Hill walk-off, and Aboriginal workers are still fighting for their stolen wages". ABC News. Australian Broadcasting Corporation . Retrieved 28 September 2021.
  22. Rowley, C. D. (Charles Dunford); Rowley, C. D (1972), The remote Aborigines, Penguin Books Australia, ISBN   978-0-14-021454-3
  23. 1 2 3 4 Collard, Sarah (18 October 2020). "Class action launched against West Australian Government over Indigenous stolen wages". ABC News. Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 3 November 2020. Up until the late 1970s, all Indigenous Australians were governed under various protection acts which controlled every aspect of their lives — from whether they could buy a new pair of shoes to whether they could marry. It was these acts that allowed Aboriginal people's wages to be held in trust by state and territory governments.
  24. "To remove and protect". AIATSIS. 25 December 2021. Retrieved 6 January 2022.
  25. "Inquiry into Stolen Wages (2006)". Find & Connect. Retrieved 3 November 2020.
  26. "Inquiry into Stolen Wages". Australian Human Rights Commission. Retrieved 3 November 2020.
  27. "Stolen Wages Reparation Scheme WA (2012 - 2012)". Find & Connect. Retrieved 3 November 2020.
  28. 1 2 "Queensland Stolen Wages Reparations Taskforce Report: Reconciling Past Injustice" (PDF). March 2016.{{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  29. "Returning Stolen Wages". Public Interest Advocacy Centre. 24 August 2016. Retrieved 3 November 2020.
  30. Cutcher, Leanne; Tyler, Melissa (14 May 2018). "Australia's stolen wages: one woman's quest for compensation". The Conversation. Retrieved 3 November 2020.
  31. Unfinished business: Indigenous stolen wages. Parliament of Australia. Commonwealth of Australia 2006. 7 December 2006. ISBN   0-642-71737-0 . Retrieved 3 November 2020.
  32. Gunstone, Andrew (May–June 2014). "Indigenous Stolen Wages and Campaigns for Reparations in Victoria" (PDF). Indigenous Law Bulletin . 8 (12). Retrieved 2 November 2020.
  33. 1 2 Australian Associated Press (10 July 2019). "Tens of thousands of Indigenous Australians may be eligible for stolen wages class action". The Guardian. Retrieved 3 November 2020.
  34. "The Class Action". Stolen Wages Settlement. Grant Thornton Australia Limited. 17 January 2020. Retrieved 3 November 2020.
  35. 1 2 3 Anthony, Thalia (10 July 2019). "The new Mabo? $190 million stolen wages settlement is unprecedented, but still limited". The Conversation. Retrieved 2 November 2020.
  36. "Indigenous workers receive $190m stolen wages settlement from Queensland government". The Guardian. 9 July 2019. Retrieved 3 November 2020.
  37. 1 2 Gordon, Krystal; Stephen, Adam (19 November 2020). "North Queensland elders say stolen wages entitlements unfair, much lower than expected". ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation). Retrieved 28 November 2020.
  38. 1 2 Wellington, Shahni (11 June 2020). "'Ignorant and ill-informed': Prime Minister's slavery comments condemned". NITV. Retrieved 12 June 2020.
  39. Jenkins, Keira; Collard, Sarah (19 October 2020). "Class action launched against WA government to recover stolen wages". NITV . Retrieved 3 November 2020.
  40. Weber, David (10 July 2019). "Indigenous stolen wages at centre of WA class action as dust settles on Queensland case". ABC News. Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 3 November 2020.
  41. "EXPORTS". Sydney Chronicle . Vol. 4, no. 370. New South Wales, Australia. 21 April 1847. p. 2. Retrieved 1 May 2019 via National Library of Australia.
  42. "SYDNEY NEWS". The Port Phillip Patriot And Morning Advertiser. Vol. X, no. 1, 446. Victoria, Australia. 1 October 1847. p. 2. Retrieved 1 May 2019 via National Library of Australia.
  43. "Shipping intelligence". The Australian . 22 October 1847. p. 2. Retrieved 1 May 2019 via National Library of Australia.
  44. "The South Australian Register. ADELAIDE: SATURDAY, DECEMBER 11,1847". South Australian Register . Vol. XI, no. 790. South Australia. 11 December 1847. p. 2. Retrieved 1 May 2019 via National Library of Australia.
  45. "THE ALLEGED MURDER AT ROTUMAH". Bell's Life In Sydney And Sporting Reviewer. Vol. IV, no. 153. New South Wales, Australia. 1 July 1848. p. 2. Retrieved 1 May 2019 via National Library of Australia.
  46. "BRISBANE". The Sydney Morning Herald . Vol. XLVIII, no. 7867. New South Wales, Australia. 22 August 1863. p. 6. Retrieved 12 May 2019 via National Library of Australia.
  47. Towns, Robert. (1863), South Sea Island immigration for cotton culture : a letter to the Hon. the Colonial Secretary of Queensland , retrieved 25 May 2019
  48. "THE SLAVE TRADE IN QUEENSLAND". The Courier (Brisbane) . Vol. XVIII, no. 1724. Queensland, Australia. 22 August 1863. p. 4. Retrieved 12 May 2019 via National Library of Australia.
  49. "CLEVELAND BAY". The Brisbane Courier . Vol. XXI, no. 2, 653. Queensland, Australia. 28 July 1866. p. 7. Retrieved 12 May 2019 via National Library of Australia.
  50. "BOWEN". The Brisbane Courier . Vol. XXI, no. 2, 719. Queensland, Australia. 13 October 1866. p. 6. Retrieved 12 May 2019 via National Library of Australia.
  51. "POLYNESIAN LABOURERS". South Australian Register . Vol. XXXII, no. 6775. South Australia. 24 July 1868. p. 2. Retrieved 28 May 2019 via National Library of Australia.
  52. "REVIVAL OF THE SLAVE TRADE IN QUEENSLAND". The Queenslander . Vol. II, no. 98. 9 November 1867. p. 5. Retrieved 5 July 2019 via National Library of Australia.
  53. "SOUTH SEA ISLANDS". The Empire . No. 5027. New South Wales, Australia. 31 December 1867. p. 8. Retrieved 5 July 2019 via National Library of Australia.
  54. "BRISBANE". The Sydney Morning Herald . Vol. LVI, no. 9202. 18 November 1867. p. 4. Retrieved 5 July 2019 via National Library of Australia.
  55. "SLAVERY IN QUEENSLAND". Queanbeyan Age . Vol. X, no. 394. New South Wales, Australia. 15 February 1868. p. 4. Retrieved 5 July 2019 via National Library of Australia.
  56. 1 2 3 Docker, Edward W. (1970). The Blackbirders . Angus and Robertson. ISBN   9780207120381.
  57. "THE SOUTH SEA ISLANDER TRAFFIC". The Queenslander . Vol. III, no. 135. 5 September 1868. p. 9. Retrieved 5 July 2019 via National Library of Australia.
  58. Queensland Government, Australian South Sea Islander Training Package at the Wayback Machine (archive index)
  59. Peter Corris, 'Melvin, Joseph Dalgarno (1852–1909)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/melvin-joseph-dalgarno-7556/text13185, published first in hardcopy 1986, accessed online 9 January 2015.
  60. "EXCESSIVE KANAKA MORTALITY". Toowoomba Chronicle and Darling Downs General Advertiser . No. 4858. Queensland, Australia. 29 July 1893. p. 3. Retrieved 20 July 2019 via National Library of Australia.
  61. 1 2 William T Wawn (1893), The South Sea Islanders and the Queensland labour trade a record of voyages and experiences in the Western Pacific from 1875 to 1891 , retrieved 22 November 2020
  62. "Trip of the Bobtail Nag". The Capricornian . Vol. 3, no. 33. Queensland, Australia. 18 August 1877. p. 10. Retrieved 8 July 2019 via National Library of Australia.
  63. "THE POLYNESIAN BOYS PER LYTTONA". The Brisbane Courier . Vol. XXVII, no. 4, 901. 14 June 1873. p. 6. Retrieved 7 July 2019 via National Library of Australia.
  64. "The Courier". The Brisbane Courier . Vol. XXVI, no. 4, 437. 21 December 1871. p. 2. Retrieved 7 July 2019 via National Library of Australia.
  65. "POLYNESIAN LABORERS ON NORTHERN STATIONS". The Brisbane Courier . Vol. XXVI, no. 4, 307. 22 July 1871. p. 5. Retrieved 8 July 2019 via National Library of Australia.
  66. "Transferring Kanakas". The Brisbane Courier . Vol. XXXIII, no. 3, 751. 27 May 1879. p. 3. Retrieved 8 July 2019 via National Library of Australia.
  67. "SEIZURE OF THE WOODBINE AND CHRISTINA". The Age . No. 5689. Victoria, Australia. 20 February 1873. p. 4. Retrieved 7 July 2019 via National Library of Australia.
  68. "IN THE VICE-ADMIRALTY COURT". The Sydney Morning Herald . Vol. LXVIII, no. 11, 035. 29 September 1873. p. 2. Retrieved 7 July 2019 via National Library of Australia.
  69. "PARLIAMENTARY PAPER". The Telegraph . No. 2, 401. Brisbane. 26 July 1880. p. 3. Retrieved 7 July 2019 via National Library of Australia.
  70. "THE LAST DAYS OF POLYNESIAN LABOR". The Queenslander . Vol. VII, no. 339. 3 August 1872. p. 3. Retrieved 7 July 2019 via National Library of Australia.
  71. "Correspondence". Rockhampton Bulletin . Vol. XVIII, no. [?]402. Queensland, Australia. 4 December 1875. p. 3. Retrieved 7 July 2019 via National Library of Australia.
  72. "CRUISE OF THE FLORA". The Capricornian . Vol. 1, no. 50. Queensland, Australia. 11 December 1875. p. 799. Retrieved 7 July 2019 via National Library of Australia.
  73. "General News". The Queenslander . Vol. XXIV, no. 411. 11 August 1883. p. 34. Retrieved 12 July 2019 via National Library of Australia.
  74. "ROCKHAMPTON POLICE COURT". The Capricornian . Vol. 10, no. 48. Queensland, Australia. 29 November 1884. p. 3. Retrieved 15 July 2019 via National Library of Australia.
  75. "Classified Advertising". The Queenslander . Vol. XXXV, no. 697. 9 February 1889. p. 278. Retrieved 17 July 2019 via National Library of Australia.
  76. 1 2 Finger, Jarvis (2012), A cavalcade of Queensland's crimes and criminals : scoundrels, scallwags & psychopaths : the colonial years and beyond 1859–1920, Boolarong Press, ISBN   978-1-922109-05-7
  77. "South Sea Labor Traffic". Evening News . No. 5590. New South Wales, Australia. 16 April 1885. p. 4. Retrieved 15 July 2019 via National Library of Australia.
  78. "DEPARTURE OF SOUTH SEA ISLANDERS FROM BRISBANE". The Australasian . Vol. XXXVIII, no. 1002. Victoria, Australia. 13 June 1885. p. 29. Retrieved 15 July 2019 via National Library of Australia.
  79. "The Morning Bulletin, ROCKHAMPTON". Morning Bulletin . Vol. XL, no. 7073. Queensland, Australia. 20 March 1888. p. 4. Retrieved 15 July 2019 via National Library of Australia.
  80. 1 2 Tracey Flanagan, Meredith Wilkie, and Susanna Iuliano. "Australian South Sea Islanders: A Century of Race Discrimination under Australian Law", Australian Human Rights Commission.
  81. "Documenting Democracy". Foundingdocs.gov.au. Archived from the original on 26 October 2009. Retrieved 9 April 2011.
  82. Collins, Ben (9 September 2018). "Reconciling the dark history of slavery and murder in Australian pearling, points to a brighter future". ABC News. Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 6 March 2020.
  83. "Australia needs to own up to its slave history". Daily Life. Retrieved 30 October 2015.
  84. "2018 / Findings / Country Studies: Australia". Global Slavery Index . Retrieved 29 March 2019.
  85. "Modern Slavery Act 2018". Federal Register of Legislation (in Kinyarwanda). Australian Government. Retrieved 6 January 2022.
  86. Locke, Sarina. "Modern slavery to be targeted in new laws recommended by Australian parliamentary committee". ABC News. Retrieved 23 August 2019.
  87. "PM defends Captain Cook amid calls to remove statue from Sydney". 7NEWS.com.au. 11 June 2020. Retrieved 11 June 2020.
  88. Hayne, Jordan; Hitch, Georgia (12 June 2020). "Scott Morrison says slavery comments were about New South Wales colony, apologises for causing offence". ABC News. Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 12 June 2020.
  89. Hall, Catherine (31 August 2016). "Writing History, Making 'Race': Slave-Owners and Their Stories†". Australian Historical Studies . Informa UK Limited. 47 (3): 365–380. doi:10.1080/1031461x.2016.1202291. ISSN   1031-461X. S2CID   152113669.
  90. McQueen, Humphrey (2018). "Born free: wage-slaves and chattel-slaves" (PDF). In Collins, Carolyn; Sendziuk, Paul (eds.). Foundational Fictions in South Australian History. Wakefield Press (Australia). pp. 43–63.
  91. Coventry, C. J. (22 March 2019). "Links in the Chain: British slavery, Victoria and South Australia". Collaborative Research Centre in Australian History: 27–46. doi:10.17613/d8ht-p058 . Retrieved 28 September 2021 via Humanities Commons.{{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  92. Arnott, Georgina (4 January 2022). "Lachlan Macquarie was a slave owner and he wasn't the only one. It's time to update the history books". ABC News. ABC Radio National.

Further reading