P.J. (Pat) Killoran
The appointment of PJ (Pat) Killoran as acting Protector of Islanders in 1948 marked a new chapter in personal and attentive supervision, the perfection over the next 30 years of the O'Leary style. As Killoran rose to the position of Director of 'the Department' under its various names from 1963 to 1980, he is said to have supervised the whole of the Torres Strait by telephone. He also developed a personal association with virtually every Islander family. Personal rule stemmed from the special conditions of power. Record cards relating to welfare, begun in 1947, came to encompass all spheres of each person's life. Taken from a complete range of records, the long-arm of 'dossier rule' of the Torres Strait was put in place.
In 1957 Islanders were still being exiled for breaking the 'morality laws'. By 1960 some of them like, Eddie Mabo, were 'jumping ship' and settling on mainland Queensland. By the 1970s the exodus was becoming a flood. A search for work and freedom followed the collapse of the pearl fisheries created by the rise of a plastics industry. By 1980 there were more Meriam living away from the Murray Islands than on them. By 1984 there were still only five Islanders with the qualifications necessary for 'government teacher'.
Keywords: Department of Aboriginal & Islander Affairs (DAIA), Department of Native Affairs, exile, Mer, Queensland, 1948-1980
Author: Sharp, Nonie