The Department of Aboriginal and Island Affairs was established when The Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders Affairs Act of 1965 came into force on 28 Apr 1966.
The Aboriginals Preservation and Protection Act of 1939 had represented a change in government policy from the protection and segregation of indigenous people to protection and preservation through assimilation into the broad white community. After the 1965 Act, the Department's policy towards Aboriginal affairs was one of complete equality, opportunity and responsibility within the white community. Instead of seeking 'exemption' from the provision of the Act, people had to apply for a 'Certificate of Entitlement' in order to come under the Act. Wage control and employment agreements were only administered for assisted people. Only people on reserves were considered assisted. With the introduction of the Aborigines Act 1971 and the Torres Strait Islanders Act 1971, the term 'assisted' was abolished.
Housing and accommodation
Personal finance and taxation
Pensions and benefits
Issue of Certificates of Entitlement
Settlements, missions, camps
Protection and preservation of relics
For administrative purposes Queensland was divided into areas: the Southern, Central, Far Northern, Torres Strait and Peninsula and Northern Peninsula divisions. Districts, as they were, were abolished and replaced with existing Magistrates Court Districts, for the purposes of the Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders Affairs Act of 1965. The role of Local Protector was also abolished and every Clerk of the Court of Petty Sessions was appointed District Officer for the purposes of the Act. Superintendents of reserves and settlements were now called 'managers' and were appointed Assistant District Officers, but were not subject to the District Officer where the reserve or settlement was located.
There were Regional District Offices at Brisbane, Cairns and Townsville to co-ordinate the work of the District Officers. There were also detached offices at Mareeba, Normanton, Cunnamulla, Mt Isa, Maryborough, Coen and St George.
The 1965 Act also made provision for the creation of Aboriginal Councils on reserves and communities, with powers, duties and functions of local government, as prescribed by the Act.
The Aborigines' Relics Preservation Act of 1967 established an advisory committee on the preservation of relics and sites, which were now recorded. The Department was also responsible for archaeological excavations.
The Aborigines Act 1971 and the Torres Strait Islanders Act 1971 established the Aboriginal Advisory Council and the Island Advisory Council, composed of chairmen from the Aboriginal and Island Councils, who acted as advisers to the Minister.
In Dec 1972, when the Director of Aboriginal and Island Affairs became the permanent head of the Department, the Department became autonomous.
The Aboriginal and Island Affairs Department's name changed to the Aboriginal and Islander Advancement Department on 16 Jan 1975.