Brass Discs, Dog Tags and Finger Scanners



Brass Discs, Dog Tags and Finger Scanners
The Apology and Aboriginal Protection in the Northern Territory 1863-1972
 
By Stephen Gray

Is the history of Aboriginal ‘protection’ essentially something to be celebrated, albeit with some well-intentioned mistakes? Or is white treatment of Aboriginal people, as Justice Brennan commented in the Mabo case, a ‘legacy of unutterable shame’? Was self-determination an excuse for avoiding responsibility, as some have claimed? And in pursuing the Northern Territory Emergency Response, are we just repeating the mistakes of the past – using brass discs and dog tags to ‘protect’ Aboriginal people from themselves?

The purpose of this book is to assess these questions by looking at Northern Territory policy towards Aboriginal people from 1863 to the beginning of ‘self-determination’ in 1972. It looks closely at men like Baldwin Spencer, Cecil Cook and Harry Giese, assessing them in light of recent public debates about frontier violence, sexual abuse of Aboriginal women and children, and the Stolen Generations. 

Stephen Gray is a Senior Lecturer in the Faculty of Law at Monash University. He lived in Darwin for nearly seventeen years, mostly teaching in the Law School at Charles Darwin University. He is also a published novelist.

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