The Grayden Report
The 1956 Report of the Select Committee appointed to Enquire into Native Welfare Conditions in the Laverton-Warburton Range Area, to give it its full name, was presented by William Grayden, chairman of the committee and member for South Perth. The report was unanimously accepted by the Western Australian Parliament.
Report of Conditions at Laverton and Warburton Ranges, December 1956
Source: A452, 1957/245, National Archives of Australia, Canberra
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Much of the area under investigation was a part of the Central Aboriginal Reserve, but violations of this reserve, both to establish a meteorological station for the British-Australian joint atomic testing program and for mining, had nevertheless taken place.
In this arid desert region, where temperatures reached 50 degrees celsius, some Aboriginal people still followed their traditional hunter-gatherer lifestyle. Roads, mining exploration and the fenced-off weather station at Giles, however, upset the age-old movements of animals and the hunters who pursued them from one waterhole to the next.
Missions at Mount Margaret, Cosmo Newbery and Warburton provided emergency treatment and supplies, often too late, to their starving, dehydrated visitors.
The Select Committee made recommendations such as the development of a cattle station. Given the effect of the nuclear testing program on those still living traditionally, the Western Australian government held that a case could be made for the Commonwealth to fund some of the recommendations. The federal government, however, reminded Western Australia that, under clause 51 (xxvi) of the Australian Constitution, responsibility for Aboriginal welfare was a state matter.
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