Ros Kidd, Australia's Debt Unpaid Wages to Indigenous Cattle Workers

ACCORDING TO ANNUAL REPORTS of Queensland’s Aboriginal department, indigenous employment in the Queensland pastoral industry varied between 3000 and 6000 men, women and children for most of the twentieth century. This workforce was almost entirely controlled by the department until 1968. It dictated work locations, set the contracts with employers, was authorised to monitor treatment and conditions, and established complex financial controls of wages and savings which intensified after 1919, after which, according to John Bleakley who was Chief Protector of Aboriginals between 1914 and 1942, regulations to control rural employment operated ‘practically without a hitch’.

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