Following separation from New South Wales in December 1859, the Queensland Colonial Secretary took over matters relating to Aborigines. In June 1873, and again in May 1876, the Government appointed a Commission to inquire into what could be done to ameliorate and improve the condition of the Aborigines. The year 1875 marked the commencement of the setting aside of money for the establishment and maintenance of Aboriginal reserves, administered by the Department of Public Lands. This responsibility was taken over by the Colonial Secretary in 1885.
The 'Aboriginal Protection and Restriction of the Sale of Opium Act 1897' was the first comprehensive Aboriginal act passed in Queensland, bringing an era of protection and segregation, whereby Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders became wards of the state. Under this Act, Parry-Okeden, the Commissioner of Police, was appointed Protector for all districts. In January 1898, Walter E. Roth was appointed Northern Protector of Aboriginals and Archibald Meston Southern Protector. Local policemen or police inspectors were appointed local protectors, all responsible to the Home Secretary until April 1903 when responsibility for the 1897 Act was transferred briefly to the Secretary for Public Lands.
-Reserves, missions, reformatories, homes
From 4 Jan 1898 to 15 Dec 1899, the Northern Protector of Aboriginals controlled all the Protectors of Aboriginals appointed to Petty Sessions Districts within the Northern and Central divisions of Queensland: Alpha, Aramac, Ayr, Barcaldine, Boulia, Bowen, Burke, Cairns, Camooweal, Cape River, Cardwell, Charters Towers, Clermont, Cloncurry, Cook, Croydon, Douglas, Emerald, Etheridge, Herberton, Hughenden, Ingham, Longreach, Mackay, Mareeba, Mount Morgan, Mourilyan, Muttaburra, Norman, Palmer, Ravenswood, Rockhampton, Somerset, St Lawrence, Thornborough, Townsville, Winton.
The Northern Protector of Aboriginals also controlled the Protectors of Aboriginals appointed to Petty Sesssions Districts within the northern division of Queensland from 15 Dec 1899 to 25 Mar 1904.
The Office of the Northern Protector of Aboriginals was abolished on 25 March 1904 and Walter E. Roth was appointed Chief Protector of Aboriginals on 30 Mar 1904.