Australian Indigenous children at 'the Bungalow', 1928

Australian Indigenous children at 'the Bungalow', 1928

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This is a black-and-white photograph of a large group of Australian Indigenous children and some adults at an Indigenous children's institution or 'home' known as 'the Bungalow' in Alice Springs in the Northern Territory. A row of small children sit on the ground with two rows of older children and adults standing behind them. Corrugated iron buildings are situated behind the group.

Educational value

  • This photograph gives some indication of the conditions prevailing at 'the Bungalow', an institution operated by the Australian Government utilising the corrugated iron sheds seen behind the group, where approximately 50 Indigenous children and ten adults were forced to live. The people seen in the image slept on the floor of the sheds or out in the open. They were allocated one blanket each per year.
  • At the time of the photograph, overcrowded conditions at the Bungalow had reached crisis point and the children seen here were soon to walk to a camp at Jay's Creek situated 48 km west of Alice Springs where they would also be housed in a corrugated iron shed. In 1932 the Bungalow children again set off on foot to a new home, the poorly refurbished former Telegraph Station, 11 km from Alice Springs, originally built 60 years earlier.
  • Most of the 45-50 children at the Bungalow in 1928, ranging in age from infancy to 16 years, had been forcibly removed from their families. Under the federal Aborigines Ordinance 1918, the Chief Protector of Aborigines had the power to take Indigenous children from their families at any age and place them in an institution. A few mothers had also brought their children in voluntarily to save them from the effects of severe drought in central Australia.
  • This photograph was part of the evidence considered by a 1927-29 inquiry into the Commonwealth of Australia's administration of Aboriginal Affairs in the NT that concluded that children's institutions, such as the Bungalow, 'were badly situated, inadequately financed and insufficiently supervised' ( Nothing was done to remedy the situation.
  • Lack of sufficient food and water contributed to the appalling conditions at the Bungalow. Only one small tank of water was provided each day. The food ration consisted mainly of bread, with fruit and vegetables rarely supplied. The lack of food meant that the children and adults either went out searching for food or depended on family and friends to bring them food from the bush. Older people remembered their childhood in the Bungalow as one of constant hunger.