John Harris outlines what Daniel Matthews attempted for Aboriginal people – and what resulted.
The Maloga Mission became a refuge for all those Aboriginal people around the Murray River, south of the Murray in Victoria and north in New South Wales. He tried to give them education; and of course he managed to get a very remarkable person (who he didn’t know was going to be remarkable, I suppose), which was Thomas James who was part Indian, who became such a father-figure to those people too, even after Daniel Matthews’ death.
He provided them with education, he provided them with work, he tried to settle them into their own homes and so on. Now I know we can look back at that and see the ordered English village in that a bit, but what else is he to do? How is he to feed these people, how is he to put food on the table and shirts on their backs? How is it without money of his own is he going to achieve this? And so they have to be self-sufficient if they can; they have to do their best. And that’s what they do their best to do. And he was greatly loved and greatly admired by those Aboriginal people.
He’s become a legend, he along with Thomas James and the others have become a legend, of course. And they taught those people to be politically savvy. And so those people and their children went on to be politically savvy people. And they went on to be Australians who made their mark – like, you know, Pastor Sir Douglas Nicholls, who not only was the best AFL player in Victoria but became as well the Governor of South Australia. So, you know, they produced great men at that mission. And many of them today, people with the surnames from the Maloga Mission, are prominent Aboriginal people in Victoria in particular today.