Labour History: A Journal of Labour and Social History

‘& So We are "Slave owners"!’: Employers and the NSW Aborigines Protection Board Trust Funds

Labour History: A Journal of Labour and Social History (2005), 88, (1), 147–164.

Abstract

The issue of the ‘Stolen Wages’ — earnings withheld from Aboriginal workers throughout the twentieth century — has made prominent headlines in the last few years. The questions surrounding these disappearing monies will undoubtedly continue to be vexed, given the history of state control over Aboriginal labour, and the concomitant practice of governments withholding the wages of Aboriginal workers in trust funds. The following discussion of the trust fund system as it operated in New South Wales under the Aborigines Protection Board’s regime (1883-1940), is intended to illuminate the context and the complexities of the issue and its significance for racial interrelations then, and indeed now. By interrogating the role of white employers in particular, this article makes a contribution to a deeper comprehension of the white experience and involvement in this history of wage withholding, an understanding critical in achieving the support of non-Aboriginal Australians in the Aboriginal workers’ cause today.

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Author details

Haskins, Victoria

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