Cameron Raynes’ The Last Protector is part of our Bumper June Book Giveaway, so, this week, instead of an interview, I decided to invite Cameron around to post a guest blog entry. Interviews are great, don’t get me wrong, but when I was on the publicity trail for my own book, I realised that with interviews, you can only really talk about what the interviewers want you to talk about. It was at the end of my publicity duties, about the time that I’d really gotten sick of people asking me about my age and why I’d chosen to write from a girl’s perspective, that I discovered guest blog entries. Guest blogging allowed me to talk about what I actually wanted to talk about, it was something I wasn’t all that used to, and something I really enjoyed.
So, here’s Cameron talking about whatever it is that he actually wants to talk about… 🙂
The story of the last Chief Protector of Aborigines has been with me, day and night, for the past eight years. Some parts of the journey were intense. In 2004, I was effectively banned by the South Australian Government from doing historical research, and this ban still stands today.
Constrained by the government’s use of legal professional privilege, I’m still not allowed to speak of some of the things I discovered in their archives. Parts of The Last Protector had to be written with this in mind and, in two or three passages, I had to write obliquely of what I knew. But my message will be clear enough. It’s this: in South Australia, at least until 1953, the government colluded with missions to remove or withhold Aboriginal children from their parents and, in doing so, acted illegally. The Last Protector is the first book in Australia to make and sustain such a claim.
The heroes in this book are the Aboriginal parents—the mothers and fathers—who wrote to the chief protector, time after time, calling for the return of their children. Some of those children were kept from their parents for years. Some of them never made it back.
Koonibba Mission, on the far west coast of South Australia, was particularly aggressive in its illegal withholding of Aboriginal children. One woman, Mrs King, wrote many letters to Penhall complaining about how the mission had separated her from her daughters. The letters are long, detailed and persuasive. She wrote:
All these years I live here, there is no Christian Love shown amongst the White people here. There is enough proof will be published one of these days, & I hope my words will come true.
Mrs King’s words did come true. Her words were published. Read them in The Last Protector.
The Last Protector by Cameron Raynes
The last protector presents a compelling argument that the South Australian government illegally took Aboriginal children from their parents during the years between 1939 and 1954. Adelaide historian Cameron Raynes draws on extensive archival records, the contents of which have never been available to the public before.