Extract from letter from The Rev. E. W. Robotham, St. Matthew’s Rectory, 219 James Street, Guildford, Western Australia…to Miss E. Lane Smith. *
…… I could write a great deal about the South West Native Mission as I happen to be the Chairman of the Board of Management. We started this mission in November 1960 with three Caravan Teams on Native Reserves and have continued to expand and now have seven teams at work. The Reverend E.C. King was made Director of the Mission in September 1960 and is doing a really good job of work. I might add that he is a great friend of our’s. This Mission is tackling the enormous task of lifting the “fringe dwellers” as they are called – the coloured people who have mingled with white people and as a result have no homes, no culture, no background. The conditions in which many of them live are unbelievable. Our task is to help them to become Christian citizens, accepted by the community. But I had better not go on too long. The mission is certainly well established; we have the support and backing of the Government of W.A., and the Archbishop of Perth is taking a keen and active interest in the work. Last week the members of the Board spent some two hours with him making plans for the work and discussing the many problems. The Board of Management is appointed by the Bishops of the Province of Western Australia and is responsible to the Provincial Synod which meets under the Chairmanship of the Archbishop every year.
The teams live either in a caravan on the edge of the reserves where these mixed-bloods live, or in a house near the Reserves and try to help the natives in every possible way – Kindergarten work, first aid, and hygiene, simple Bible stories for the children and generally setting an example of Christian living. We have been doing a certain amount of building, with Government assistance, to get these people into decent living conditions and away from “homes” made of sacks, corrugated iron, branches of trees. We have been concerned that we have not been able to do enough spiritual teaching and we feel that now we must have in our teams dedicated Christians. It has not been possible always to get such people and to begin with we concentrated on cleaning up the Reserves and improving conditions of living. Some Reserves – there are so many – now have a reasonable standard of living and on these we must give more Christian teaching.
This letter was written on 2nd . March 1964