The Queensland Native Police and strategies of recruitment on the Queensland Frontier 1849-1901

Heather Burke, Bryce Barker, Noelene Cole, Lynley Wallis, Elizabeth Hatte, Iain Davidson, Kelsey Lowe

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    16 Citations (Scopus)
    135 Downloads (Pure)


    Although historians have provided substantial insights into the structure, development and activities of the Queensland Native Mounted Police, they have rarely focused on the complex and sensitive issue of Aboriginal recruitment. A careful reading of historical records, however, identifies several methods, including coercion, intimidation, kidnapping and inducement, as well as “voluntary” enlistment. It is difficult to identify Aboriginal agency in recruitment processes as the records are entirely one-sided— the voices of the troopers themselves are absent from the archival sources. In this article, we examine the cultural and historical contexts of Aboriginal recruitment—for example, the dire social situations of Aboriginal survivors of the frontier war and the absence of future survival options for the potential recruits. We explore, through the framework of historical trauma, the impacts on vulnerable victims of violence and other devastating effects of colonisation. We conclude that the recruitment of Aboriginal troopers was far from a homogeneous or transparent process and that the concept of agency with regard to those who can be considered war victims themselves is extremely complex. Unravelling the diverse, conflicting and often controversial meanings of this particular colonial activity remains a challenge to the historical process.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)297-313
    Number of pages17
    JournalJournal of Australian Studies
    Issue number3
    Early online date2018
    Publication statusPublished - 3 Jul 2018


    • Coercion
    • Desertion
    • Historical trauma
    • Native Mounted Police
    • Recruitment


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