'Assimilation Begins in the Home': the State and Aboriginal Women's Work as Mothers in New South Wales, 1900s to 1960s

Australian Society for the Study of Labour History
Publication Type:
Journal Article
Labour History, 1995, May, 69 (1), pp. 89 - 95
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The relations between Aboriginal people and their colonisers in Australia have always been highly charged with sexual tension. The pervasive and persistent sexual stereotyping of Aboriginal men and women has been as much a part of the discourse of administrative decision-making and policy formulation as it has been of the face-ta-face engagements between Aboriginal people and their employers, the police, or the white men who have continued to 'visit the camps' outside NSW country towns for illicit and often exploitative sex. Pearl Gibbs was the only woman to fill the place of the official Aboriginal representative on the NSW Aborigines Welfare Board. She enjoyed telling the story of the first Christmas of her term, in 1954, in which the white Board members, all senior male bureaucrats or academics, invited her to 'share some frivolities'. Pearl was very aware of the tensions in the situation, and waited until the Board members offered her a Christmas drink.
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