Mission and Reserve records

Of the many Aboriginal missions and reserves that were established, many have disappeared, but some are still in existence.

Starting dates for missions and reserves can vary as to what event is taken as the starting point (eg the arrival of a priest or the granting of land). Churches often maintained some form of presence after the official closure date given.

Reserves differed from missions in that reserves were established by the Government. Ultimately though, they had the same purpose. Religious bodies sometimes set up schools, churches and dormitories on reserves and missions also. It may be surprising to note that there were only ten actual missions in New South Wales

According to Connecting kin : guide to records:.

“Missions were compounds established by the churches as a sanctuary to ‘protect’ the Indigenous peoples of Australia from the mistreatment that the European settlers were perpetrating on them. They were institutions that arguably had a detrimental influence on the very people they were supposed to protect. The Aborigines Protection Board controlled these missions”.

It must also be noted that some churches, especially the UAM and the AIM, were active on government settlements, though they didn’t always have an administrative role.

Many churches hold their records centrally in their major administrative offices. Sadly, many church records are missing or lost.

To find contact information for a church archive, you can use the Directory of Archives in Australia by either browsing their list or searching by keyword. If you know the name of the church (for example Lutheran) you can type that in as a keyword.

Select from the lists below for the names of particular missions from each state:

NSW | QLD | VIC | TAS | WA | NT | SA

This listing is by no means complete and has been kindly reproduced from the book “Lookin for your mob : a guide to tracing Aboriginal family trees” by Diane Smith and Boronia Halstead, Canberra : Aboriginal Studies Press, 1990.

To search Mura®, the AIATSIS catalogue for materials on missions, reserves etc, select “Everything” from the menus and type the words “missions” and the name of the state or the name of a specific mission/reserve into the “Words or phrase” box.

Finding Mission records


Finding mission records

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