Controlled Lives

Article | Updated 4 years ago

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Coolgardie crowd 1899

The huge numbers of ‘outsiders’ who arrived on the goldfields had an immense impact on the lives of Aboriginal people.

Successive governments enacted legislation to control every aspect of their lives. Aboriginal people were not included in the mining economy and were marginalised in society.

Legislation that sought to retain a British character in the population and the gold mining industry also saw non-British arrivals controlled and excluded.

The Goldfields Act 1886 and its amendments, the Mining Act 1904 that replaced it and the Mines Regulation Act 1906 saw a comprehensive set of exclusions applied to ‘aliens’ of Asiatic or African background as well as to non-English speakers. Legislation also ensured that Aboriginal people did not work in the goldmining industry.

These exclusions were not removed for more than 60 years.