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Doctor and the Aborigines

Publisher: Rigby Limited

Charles Duguid

Charles Duguid

  • Born: 1884
  • Died: 1986

Charles Duguid was a Scottish-born medical practitioner and Aboriginal rights campaigner who recorded his experience working among the Australian Aborigines in a number of books. While teaching at Glasgow University, Duguid worked as a doctor in the slums of Glasgow, but in 1911 he signed on as ship’s surgeon for a voyage to and from Australia. This experience led him to emigrate to Australia in 1912. Doctor and the Aborigines tells the story of Dr Duguids’ life, from his birth in Scotland to his eventual arrival in Australia, and then to taking up of the aboriginal cause the 1930’s.

The murder of a white man by Aboriginals at Landers Creek, Northern Territory, sparked Duguid’s interest in Aboriginal rights. The police shot 17 Aboriginals during the course of the hunt for the murderer. His wife founded the Aboriginal Advancement League in 1935 and Duguid served as President. In 1937, Duguid helped to found Ernabella Mission in the Musgrave Ranges of South Australia. He lectured and spoke in the United Kingdom as well as Australia and New Zealand about the conditions of the Australian Aborigines.

Duguid was active in other organizations concerned with the advancement of Aboriginal rights such as the Council for Aboriginal Rights and the Association for the Protection of Native Races. He also led the 1947 campaign against the establishment of a British-Australian rocket testing program at Woomera in the Central Australian Desert. He worked closely with Donald Thompson to inform the public of the harmful effect that this program would have on those people still living traditionally, nearby.

In addition to his work with Australian Aborigines, Duguid helped to found the Australian branch of the English-Speaking Union, of which he was Chairman in 1932. In 1935, he was elected Moderator of the Presbyterian Church of South Australia. Duguid died in Adelaide on December 5, 1986 at the age of 102.