Protector Parker: Aboriginal advocate or self serving businessman? A biographical case study of the Port Philip Protectorate, Australia, 1837-57
Paper in proceedings, 2009
When the British government outlawed slavery in 1833 the lobbyists who had worked so hard for this reform turned their attention to improving the condition of indigenous people in British colonies worldwide. In Australia they managed to introduce a protectorate in the Port Philip District (the state of Victoria today). One of the most successful protectors was a man called Edward Stone Parker. This paper looks at his life and his contribution to the amelioration of Aboriginal conditions in Port Philip. During and after his life people have both praised and maligned him. Some depict him as an effective advocate of Aboriginal interests while others have defamed him as a self serving businessman. This paper makes the point that it was perhaps his flair for business and for ‘getting on’ that in fact made him one of the most effective of the protectors. Despite considerable opposition Parker managed to locate the Aborigines in his district at a place where they were shielded from some of the worst aspects of colonial brutality. He also provided schooling and material necessities to a group that had been deprived of their land and their livelihood by the rapid expansion of pastoralism and gold mining.
cross cultural relations
Victorian Aboriginal Protectorate