Men of Taroom 1911 Negative 130658

Group at Taroom 1911 Negative 109726

Group at Taroom Settlement 1911

Temporary store and cartshed at Taroom Settlement, 1911 Negative 107766
Stockyard at Taroom Settlement, 1911 Negative 107767


The Taroom Aboriginal Government Settlement was established in 1910, nine miles east of Taroom on the Dawson River. Aborigines were forcibly removed from many areas of Queensland to this settlement. Although it is difficult to establish exactly how many different tribal groups were removed to Taroom, documented and oral evidence would indicate at least thirteen.-

Deaths outnumbered births following the initial establishment of the Taroom Settlement, but the population
continued to increase because of the number of removals. Between 1912 and 1923, for example, 447 Aborigines were removed to Taroom, but at the end of 1923, the population of Taroom was only 323, indicating an extremely high death rate. By 1925, the population of Taroom had decreased to 265, despite a continuing flow of removals to the Settlement. Table 1 and the following explanation attempt to explain the reasons for this apparent discrepancy.

Obviously, the figures noted in this table are somewhat affected by the absence of statistics on numbers working in the pastoral industry from Taroom, because the sum of the previous year's population and the number of removals (taking into account the birth and death rates) does not always equal the new population figure. This lack of attention to statistics is another symptom of the low priority afforded to
Queensland's Aborigines by the government. Despite the omissions and discrepancies, it becomes apparent that the reason why an increasing number of removals was not accompanied by a concomitant rise in population figures is the high death rate, caused by poor diet, sanitation and living conditions. The aim of the government was not to "preserve the race as long as possible', but to exploit the Aborigines for
their labour until they eventually "inevitably* died out. As Orlando Patterson has pointed out, "slaves are always recruited from among persons menaced with death." Usually, the main causes of death in Taroom were venereal diseases, bronchitis, pneumonia and "senile decay'.  Because of their living conditions and their low immunity to European diseases, the Aborigines were also very susceptible to epidemics of diseases such as influenza. In 1919, the global influenza epidemic swept through Taroom, causing thirty-two deaths including that of the Superintendent. This high death rate, coupled with a sharp decline in the birthrate, which was the pattern on most Aboriginal reserves at the time, caused concern among government officials

A History of Woorabinda Aboriginal Community 1927-1990, by Therese Forde


*Discrepancy between Chief Protector's figures and Superintendent's.
**Figure excludes those out working on pastoral stations under labour agreements.
Blank spaces denote no figures for that year.
Source: Chief Protector's Annual Reports. 1912-1925.

'This was an early Aboriginal Mission up until 1927 and apparently had a troubled history including a strike in 1916. 

In 1927 Aboriginal people from Taroom Aboriginal Mission were marched some 300 kilometres to the newly settled Woorabinda Aboriginal Mission.

The Taroom Aboriginal Mission was a neighbouring mission of the Hull River Aboriginal Settlement which relocated to Palm Island.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


Rosalind Kidd The Way we Civilised: Aboriginal Affairs - the untold story.

A History of Woorabinda Aboriginal Community 1927-1990, by Therese Forde


Living under the Act : Taroom Aboriginal Reserve 1911-1927 Scott L'Oste-Brown ; Queensland. Department of Environment and Heritage.

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