Were they that bad? #6 – Access to Soldier Settlement Schemes

Libraries Tasmania

Firstly, lets’s dispense with the fallacy that Aboriginals were prevented from enlisting in WW1 and onwards. “Exempt” from compulsory training and service is not the same as “prevented”. I’ve already dealt with this myth here.

As for the claim about being denied access to soldier settlement schemes, perhaps Libraries Tasmania (and other interested parties) should speak to the ABC. They have found a couple of successful Aboriginal applicants.

In Victoria, from 78,000 returned servicemen, 11,000 applied for soldier settlement allocations.

Of the successful applicants, only two were Indigenous: Percy Pepper, a Gunaikurnai man from Gippsland in eastern Victoria and George Winter McDonald of Gunditjmara descent, from the south-east of the state.

‘They were back to being black’: The land withheld from returning Indigenous soldiers

Their major gripe is that not enough got them, not that they weren’t eligible. I see absolutely no proof of discrimination here, just conjecture.

Nationally, there was a mere handful of successful Indigenous applicants for soldier settlement blocks…

The soldier settlement scheme and its detailed documentation in thousands of official files in archives across the country tells an unpalatable story of an earlier Australia riven by racism.

‘They were back to being black’: The land withheld from returning Indigenous soldiers

The Australian War Memorial even puts the boot with its “Classroom Resources” for teachers and children:

Soldier settlement after the First World War

And:

Soldier settlement after the First World War

Ok, here’s an unpalatable truth from the original Soldier Settlement files in Victoria. This from the last report in 1950 (applications had a five year limit from RTA).

Annual Report of the Soldier Settlement Commission for the Year End 30th June 1950

So let’s be clear.

In Victoria:

  • 14,008 Applications were received
  • 12,565 of these appeared before the classification board
  • 9,638 were considered suitable/experienced enough for farm ownership, and
  • Only 1,321 actual allotments were made available over the five-year period.

The exact number of Aboriginal Diggers is not actually known, but it is without question significantly less than those of other ethnic backgrounds. The figures above indicate clearly that many white Diggers (equally deserving) missed out on allotments, too.

Some Aboriginals were successful applicants, which, in and of itself, destroys the ‘denied access’ claims.

As for “not enough”, the figures speak for themselves.

More mathematics and probability, than racism.

43 thoughts on “Were they that bad? #6 – Access to Soldier Settlement Schemes”

  1. Mater,

    this is a great body of work.

    FYI – Victoria estimates are 86 Aboriginal servicemen in WWI.

    ps: That page also repeats the myth that, “… Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people were not eligible to enlist, meaning that those who wished to serve had to remain silent about their Aboriginality…”.


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  2. ps: That page also repeats the myth that, “… Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people were not eligible to enlist, meaning that those who wished to serve had to remain silent about their Aboriginality…”.

    It does (unsurprisingly). I’ve got a link to my post which clears that fallacy up.

    “Falsehood flies, and the Truth comes limping after it”



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  3. You see the problem for Australian historians. All these facts have been cunningly hidden in source documents – the last place a historian would ever think to look.

    They instead cleave to the proven historical method of reading reports, based on earlier reports, based on newspaper articles, reporting hearsay, of apocrypha which, while everyone knows a person who knows a person who was there, no one actually knows first hand a person who was there, much less does any person claim to have been there.

    The political class knows no better and they desperately do not want to know better. Historians have already ‘established’ that historical records are simply other people’s truths, not Truth – although they will not tolerate the same accusation being levelled at their versions.

    Your posts have been very enlightening, Mater.


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  4. Part of the reason for the general failure of the “Soldier settler’s scheme is that those allocated a block were usually under capitalized, and had little experience of farming. Of eight blocks, allocated in the district, surrounding my grandfathers property, in the Eastern Wheatbelt in Western Australia, all those, on those blocks “walked off” during the Great Depression.


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  5. Your posts have been very enlightening, Mater.

    I’m glad.
    Now it’s time for people to start pushing back against the lies.
    Our ancestors don’t deserve to be so unfairly denigrated. It’s shameful.


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  6. duncanmsays:
    July 21, 2022 at 7:26 am
    Mater,

    this is a great body of work.

    FYI – Victoria estimates are 86 Aboriginal servicemen in WWI.

    ps: That page also repeats the myth that, “… Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people were not eligible to enlist, meaning that those who wished to serve had to remain silent about their Aboriginality…”.

    I’ve seen photos. If “remain silent” was enough to fool the recruiters, then the recruiters must have been totally blind.


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  7. PS, Regarding “not substantially of European origin or descent”, there were three well-known Asian-Australian WW I soldiers, all of whom received high decorations. Harry Freame (Japanese-Australian), Billy Sing and Caleb Shang (both Chinese-Australian). The people of the time were rather less race-obsessed than many current so-called “progressives”.

    Caleb Shang (DCM and Bar, MM) was greeted at the wharf on his return to Australia by the Cairns town band, the Mayor (with prepared speech) and a large crowd of well-wishers.


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  8. Now it’s time for people to start pushing back against the lies.

    How do you “push back” when those lies are perpetrated on the floor of Parliament? Bill Shorten, and the putrid old lie about Aborigines being presented with smallpox infested blankets? No – one even challenged that, on the floor of the House. I wrote to Shorten’s office, and never received the courtesy of a reply.


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  9. How do you “push back” when those lies are perpetrated on the floor of Parliament?

    All you can do is pick people up, one at a time.
    Whenever you hear these lies propagated, correct the record. Ask them if they really believe their Grandparents would do that.


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  10. Mother Lodesays:
    July 21, 2022 at 8:16 am
    You see the problem for Australian historians. All these facts have been cunningly hidden in source documents – the last place a historian would ever think to look.

    speaking of which, damned if I can find any reference to “substantially of European origin” (as quoted by the Tas library above) in the 1903 Commonwealth Defence Act.

    Here’s the list of exemptions from conscription


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  11. Ask them if they really believe their Grandparents would do that.

    I’ve used that line, several years ago. Little Miss Precocious was holding forth about how the record of this district was nothing to boast about – it was all land stolen from the Aboriginal people.

    “Umm, allow me to point out that your grandfather was one of the pioneers of this district..”


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  12. .. ok – that linked version is the defence act with subsequent amendments.

    Here’s the original 1903 act.

    Still no mention of “European Origin”.
    Section 61 is presumably the important bit

    Exemptions.

    61.—(1.) The Governor-General may, by Regulation, declare what persons shall be exempt from service in the Defence Force, provided that persons whom the doctrines of their religion forbid to bear arms or perform military service shall be exempt upon such conditions as may be prescribed.



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  13. speaking of which, damned if I can find any reference to “substantially of European origin” (as quoted by the Tas library above) in the 1903 Commonwealth Defence Act.

    It exists, but it doesn’t mean what they say it means. They are exempting Aboriginals, not forbidding them. See my post here. It has the original document.

    European were obliged to doing military training and service at the pleasure of the Governor-General. Aboriginals were not.

    This was a no-win situation. Force them into service…genocide. Don’t force them into service…racist exclusion.


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  14. You’re doing good work here Mater, have you considered putting all your research into book form?

    No. I’ve got another book in the works, but strictly for my kids. That’s project enough for me.

    I felt obliged to put this information into onto a public forum, whilst I still can. Best I can realistically do, and more than I had expected to do. 132andBush convinced me to do it, following some disgraceful claims made during a NAIDOC reconciliation speech from someone who lectures to businesses and schools.

    I haven’t even addressed the worst of what he claimed. It was the last straw.


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  15. Or Quadrant?

    Jupes, I’m happy for my research to be consolidated (perhaps expanded on) and used in whatever manner. It’s just beyond my capacity to do so, at the moment.


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  16. Not that the Soldier Settlement Scheme was a passport to swan for the rest of your life.

    Soldiers in Pemberton where given blocks of Karri Forrest to ‘farm’. Took them many years to clear with saws, axes and bullock teams before the first crop was planted.



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  17. Not that the Soldier Settlement Scheme was a passport to swan for the rest of your life.

    They did learn after the First World War – after the Second World War, soldier settlers blocks were cleared, and their was a house provided.


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  18. … after the Second World War, soldier settlers blocks were cleared, and their was a house provided.

    Um…. er…. ummm…..


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  19. This afternoon on “soul search” a program nominaly about religious issues they had an ‘Aunty” on who was raised on a mission.

    Apparently all you whites must “pay” for the awful wrongs she and others endured.

    As usual for the ABCcess, no claim too lurid to be checked.


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  20. That might have been only in Western Australia?

    Plenty of balloted land came with “improvements” – some of which may have been clearing.
    It all depends what improvement had been done by the station they were resumed from.

    Specific “open to returned servicemen only” blocks, particularly in another state, I cannot comment upon.

    Certainly I know several soldier-settler blocks which would have been (at the time) logistically impossible to clear. 80,000 acres – 60,000 acre blocks abounded in mighty Qld.
    Certainly the “improved value” of such clearing would have been beyond the means of almost anybody to pay – and any station which had cleared that much area would have been unlikely to lose it (at that time).


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  21. Your posts have been very enlightening, Mater.

    I’m glad.
    Now it’s time for people to start pushing back against the lies.
    Our ancestors don’t deserve to be so unfairly denigrated. It’s shameful.

    This! Thanks for your great research and effort in putting this together, Mater. I’ve remembered thing I’d forgotten, learnt a couple of new points and feel armed and ready to begin demolishing this nonsense whenever I encounter it.


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  22. It was the last straw

    My last straw was being told, in a recent academic Welcome To Country, that I am but a guest in Australia. My blood boiled.


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  23. Matersays:
    July 21, 2022 at 12:25 pm
    Here’s the original 1903 act.

    It was added in the 1909 amendment.

    https://www.legislation.gov.au/Details/C1909A00015

    aha. Thanks for digging that up.

    Exemptions from training in time of peace.

    “138.—(1.) The following shall be exempt from the training mentioned in Part XII. of this Act in time of peace, so long as the employment, condition, or status on which the exemption is based is still continuing:—

    (a) Those who have been reported by the prescribed medical authorities as unfit for any naval or military service whatever; and

    (b) Those who are not substantially of European origin or descent, of which the medical authorities appointed in that behalf under the regulations shall be the judges: Provided that this exemption shall not extend to duties of a non-combatant nature; and

    So the exemption was also only in time of peace, and did not include duties of a non-combatant nature


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  24. Oh, and Section XII training was:

    All male inhabitants of Australia (excepting those who are exempted by this Act), who have resided therein for six months, and are British subjects, shall be liable to be trained, as prescribed, as follows:—

    (a) From twelve years to fourteen years of age, in the Junior Cadets; and
    (b) From fourteen to eighteen years of age, in the Senior Cadets; and
    (c) From eighteen to twenty years of age, in the Citizen Forces; and
    (d) From twenty to twenty-six years of age, in the Citizen Forces:

    So the historical revisionists seem pissed that Aboriginals were exempt from being pulled into school cadets and national service.


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  25. So the exemption was also only in time of peace, and did not include duties of a non-combatant nature

    And war.
    The Act was updated again in 1910 so they also couldn’t be forced into combat.

    https://www.legislation.gov.au/Details/C1910A00037

    Persons exempt from service.
    “61. The following shall be exempt from service in time of war, so long as the employment, condition, or status on which the exemption is based continues:—

    (a) Persons reported by the prescribed medical authorities as unfit for any naval or military service whatever; and
    (b) Members and officers of the Parliament of the Commonwealth or of a State; and
    (c) Judges of Federal or State Courts, and police, stipendiary or special magistrates of the Commonwealth or of a State; and
    (d) Ministers of Religion; and
    (e) Persons employed in the police or prison services of the Commonwealth or of a State; and
    (f) Persons employed in lighthouses; and
    (g) Persons employed as medical practitioners or nurses in public hospitals; and
    (h) Persons who are not substantially of European origin or descent, of which the medical authorities appointed under the Regulations shall be the judges; and
    (i) Persons who satisfy the prescribed authority that their conscientious beliefs do not allow them to bear arms; and
    (j) Persons engaged in any employment specified by the Regulations or by Proclamation.
    Provided that, as regards the persons described in paragraphs (g), (k), and (i) of this section, the exemption shall not extend to duties of a non-combatant nature.

    So the historical revisionists seem pissed that Aboriginals were exempt from being pulled into school cadets and national service.

    They also seem pissed that they couldn’t be FORCED to fight in a ‘white man’s war”. Could you imagine that narrative today? Farkkkkkkkkkk!


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  26. Apparently all you whites must “pay” for the awful wrongs she and others endured.

    There’s an “Aboriginal Activist” just moved to this town, from the West Australian Wheatbelt. They say it’s their mission to educate the younger generation as to the injustices done to their people since British colonization. They grew up in a tin humpy on the “Natives Reserve” behind the town rubbish tip, their father unable to find work because of the all pervading racism of those days, and in constant fear of being “taken away” by the welfare.

    There’s only one problem – my family farmed in that district at that time. Said activist is of the same vintage as me. The “Natives Reserve” was the other side of the town from the rubbish tip, the houses on the “Reserve” were “fibro” and corrugated iron , the same as most of the district lived in, the elders of the district remember the father as ” a good shearer, when you could keep him off the grog,” and the only children “taken away” were those who’s families were completely unable to care for them…


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  27. There’s only one problem – my family farmed in that district at that time. Said activist is of the same vintage as me. The “Natives Reserve” was the other side of the town from the rubbish tip, the houses on the “Reserve” were “fibro” and corrugated iron , the same as most of the district lived in, the elders of the district remember the father as ” a good shearer, when you could keep him off the grog,” and the only children “taken away” were those who’s families were completely unable to care for them…

    Of course out of sheer politeness you’re no doubt refraining from making those facts widely known…


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  28. Mater, thank you for these posts.
    To have links to so many original documents collected in this one place is a boon for those of us bereft of practical search skills.
    Can we have your permission to print these out for personal use? I have found that if I leave physical books and papers scattered around the grandchildren may well pick them up, they may not read further than the first page or so but the publication has registered with them. Whereas, sending links or making suggestions for articles they may find interesting become ‘lost’ deep into their online life.


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  29. Mater, thank you. Is it also ok to print out these 6 posts you have researched, “Were They That bad?”? I’ve been collecting books about Australia and Australians that are published pre the 1967 referendum. Thanks again for such interesting writing.


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  30. Of course out of sheer politeness you’re no doubt refraining from making those facts widely known…

    I’m waiting until the mood for mischief overtakes me.

    I’ve already confronted one old harridan.

    “I just hate all you white people. Simple.”

    “Why do you hate all white people?”

    “For what all you white c#nts did to Aboriginal people.”

    “What, bringing them houses, motor cars, whitefella tucker, schools, medicine, sitdown money?”

    “Fvck off, white c#nt!”


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  31. Mater, thank you. Is it also ok to print out these 6 posts you have researched, “Were They That bad?”?

    Go your hardest.
    I posted in the hope that others might be able to use them wherever and whenever possible.


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  32. Of course out of sheer politeness you’re no doubt refraining from making those facts widely known…

    Encountered said activist this morning “down the street.” A hearty handshake. “You’re from (Bullamakanka) too? Yeah, your Dad used to shear for my father and grandfather..”


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  33. Enjoying your spot-on comments ZK2A.
    I remember as a very small boy going with my Dad to a humpy or two in bush adjoining the town area, seeking help with haycarting and the like.
    The older, highly respected workers would always send a substitute if they didn’t make it for Day 2.
    If you paid when they asked at the end of the first day, you were a complete mug.

    I remember also Dad being asked and giving petrol to local guys going to Jerramungup for funerals.
    My Mum was a primary school teacher, and though the kids were not particularly our friends when we got a TV they used to come after school to watch F Troop and such at our place and ride our bikes.


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  34. I was told many years ago that a lot of diggers walked off the land due to a lack of water. The Govmint promised irrigation channels to many an allotment then delayed and walked back their commitments leaving said diggers with no choice but to walk away.

    And now many irrigated lands have sold their water rights under Turdballs and his Macquarie mates setting up the water trading system. These lands are now restocked, covered in weeds and or dust bowls.
    Forget emissions trading schemes just get Mal back to finish the water trading scheme and we will crash the agriculture emissions in a jiffy.


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