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National Missionary Council

Under the chairmanship of its General Secretary Frank Engel, the National Missionary Council rewrote its policy with regard to assimilation in two leaflets that were released in June 1963.

'The Meaning of Assimilation' stated that Aboriginal people had rights 'as a responsible people', that assimilation of Aborigines into the life of the community must be subject to their consent and that they must have the 'opportunity to participate freely in drawing up plans and executing policies which concern their welfare'.

'Four Major Issues in Assimilation' identified land, language, law and political education as issues requiring 'urgent development'. More attention was paid in the leaflet to the first issue than the other three combined. 'It must never be forgotten', readers were reminded, 'that, for the most part, Australia was taken from the Aborigines by force without payment or compensation, or recognition of their inherent title to the land'.

On the basis of this understanding, the National Missionary Council argued that a 'moral responsibility' rested upon white people and their governments to 'set right in some measure the wrong that was done'. Three ways to achieve this were suggested. The first was to guarantee 'corporate freehold ownership of remaining reserves as the rightful heritage of certain tribes'. The second was for federal and state governments to assist groups to purchase land. The third was the development of schemes of land settlement under federal and state governments, with appropriate agricultural training.

Four major issues in assimilation

Four major issues in assimilation

National Missionary Council of Australia, June 1963

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