University LibraryCollections at a Click

Annual reports of the Board for the Protection of Aborigines in Victoria, 1861-1925

Collections at a Click: digital elements of Victoria's history


"The arrival and settlement of Europeans irrevocably changed the lives of the many Aboriginal groups in Victoria... The system of Aboriginal protectorates, introduced in 1838 and presided over by GA Robinson, collapsed under the pressure of the settlers' land hunger and was scrapped... Setting aside reserves also failed...

"Missions such as Coranderrk... Framlingham, Lake Condah, Lake Tyers and Ramahuyck provided a refuge for many people but they had to conform to strict rules, which meant their customary way of life and even their languages had to be abandoned. Over the years, Aboriginal people from the missions were used as cheap labour by Europeans, as labourers on their farms and as domestics in their households."

In 2009 the University of Melbourne Library, in cooperation with the Public Records Office of Victoria, published digital versions of the annual reports of the Board for the Protection of Aborigines in Victoria.

Covering the years 1861 to 1925, this remarkable collection reveals intriguing details about how Aboriginal missions and reserves -- places like Coranderrk, Lake Condah and Lake Tyers, whose names continue to resonate in living memory -- were established and administered.

The reports summarise annual expenditure, describe the operation of farming and business enterprises, report on the movement of people into and out of the reserves, and describe the various health, education and welfare programs that were intended to improve the lives of Aboriginal Victorians. Some list the names of families and individuals who lived at particular locations.


The collection will be of interest to:

Aboriginals and Torres Strait Islanders please note: the documents may contains names of individuals who are deceased.


How to access the documents

The Board of Protection reports are available from the University Library's web site.

Before proceeding, please note:

To browse or download the collection of 51 reports:

  1. Go to collection's home page in the digital repository
  2. Click the 'document' icon (shown below) that appears beside the collection's title: this will open a pop-up window in your web browser

    document icon
  3. In the pop-up window you will see a table of contents on the left side of the screen. Use this menu to browse the contents of the collection. Alternatively, your web browser may prompt you to download the PDF to your desktop.
    example of pop-up window


Adobe Acrobat Reader allows you to search for specific keywords, eg a surname or place name, within a PDF document.



Image, above: extract from the 1864 central report, summarising the distribution of goods at all stations (missions and reserves) in Victoria.


Further reading


Quotes on this web page are from the "Victorian History" entry by Miss A Garwood (aka "AJG") in David Horton (ed) The Encylopaedia of Aboriginal Australia: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander history, society and culture. Canberra: Aboriginal Studies Press for the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies, 1994. Available in the University Library: see catalogue entry.


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