Missions were first started as a means of controlling the original owners of the land by restricting their movements and making it easier for white settlers to move in and take over. As more and more settlers moved into Australia, more missions were set up until there were missions right across Australia. These missions were often places where Aboriginal people lost almost all of their cultural heritage and human rights.
Encyclopaedia of Aboriginal Australia
Europeans were unable to recognise Aboriginal society and culture for what they were. Usurpation of land destroyed not only the economic and ecological basis of traditional society, but also the religious core. At the end of the nineteenth century the government created legislation to combat the affects of whites on Aboriginals. This was done by placing Aboriginal people on Missions or Reserves.
“Archibald Meston’s report (Protection and Restriction of the Sale of Opium Act of 1897) was strongly paternalistic. There was little serious consideration given by him, or anyone else, to any solution other than to remove Aborigines to reserves. Although Meston was most critical of the missions in the Cape York Peninsula, his policy was basically similar to the missionaries’ : Aborigines were to be protected from the vices of civilisation by excluding them from towns, controlling employment and restricting the supply of opium. Meston also recommended the abolition of the notorious Native Police Force, which was also “damned by its own most senior officer” (Rowley, 1972a, 181) in an 1897 report by W.E. Parry-Okeden, the new Police Commissioner. But the Latter’s advice, that the force should be retained with an emphasis on deterrence and reconciliation, was followed in the 1897 legislation.”
Gerard Guthrie, 1997?, page 7