The 'Act' that Aunty Lauraine talks about in relation to 'exemptions' was a terribly discriminatory piece of Queensland legislation entitled The Aboriginals Protection and Restriction of the Sale of Opium Act 1897. Under this Act and its Regulations, the Queensland government was empowered to (among other things):
- appoint a 'protector' of Aboriginal people;
- remove Aboriginal people from their traditional lands and relocate them to reserves set up by the government, "in such manner, and subject to such conditions, as may be prescribed";
- forbid non-Aboriginal people from entering the reserves;
- issue permits for Aboriginal people to work outside the reserves for up to 12 months, with renewal or revocation of such permits at the discretion of the 'protector';
- issue blankets to Aboriginal people, which blankets "shall be and remain the property of Her Majesty";
- provide for the control of Aboriginal people; and
- prohibit Aboriginal rites or customs that were deemed to be injurious to Aboriginal welfare.
According to government records, 969 Aboriginal people were removed from their home land and taken to Yarrabah from the establishment of the mission until 1972. When anthropologist, Norman Tindale, visited Yarrabah in 1938 he found 43 different tribal groups represented there.
My work in town planning and environmental law gradually led me to wonder whether western society had lost a crucial connection with 'something'. In exploring what that 'something' might be, I looked to Indigenous knowledge and in doing so, became enthralled with the intriguing yet very complex concept of multi-dimensional songlines.