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Memento : Issue 21
17 september 2002 memento Spencer noted that there were 'comfortable houses for the missionaries, a church and a school room ... and two small rooms, one for the incarceration of the girls and the other for that of the boys at night.' His report criticised aspects of the mission's management and argued against the 'forcible detention of the natives by locking them up at night'. Spencer advised that the station could be better managed and made profitable if the government were to take over its administration. He also recommended that 'a station for half-castes be founded on the mission lands to serve the whole of the southern division of the territory' and that it be placed 'at some distance from the Aboriginal station'. His advice reflected the view of many officials that children of part-descent could become 'civilised' if removed from Aboriginal camps and given some training. Spencer returned to the Hermannsburg Mission in 1923 but found there had been little improvement in conditions since his earlier visit. Again, he recommended the mission be put into government administration, and also suggested that the failure of teaching methods to develop inhabitants' practical skills was part of a deliberate ploy to prevent them straying from the mission. Aboriginal humpies, Hermannsburg Mission Station (photo by Spencer). Women and children coming out of church, Hermannsburg Mission. Spencer's reports and photographs from his expeditions are amongst the many and varied records held in our vast collection. They provide an illuminating but disturbing insight into the treatment of Indigenous people in the Northern Territory in the early part of this century. Later this year we will be co-publishing, with Australian Scholarly Publishing, a book by Michael Davis on European Australians' interpretation of Indigenous Australians' heritage and culture. The work of Baldwin Spencer is mentioned by Davis. NAA: A1, 1930/1542 NAA: A3, NT1922/2805 Extract of map from a medical report showing many of the locations Spencer visited. NAA: A3, NT1922/2805