AFFHO Meritorious Award for Family History 2009 Citation
"Paul Mackett has given outstanding service to family history in Australia through his work on
Australian Aboriginal Genealogical Records since 1989. With very few genealogical records for
Australia's indigenous people readily available, his collection represents a unique and extremely
valuable resource for family and other research on aboriginals. His index has been a marvellous,
unique research tool for those with Aboriginal heritage seeking to trace their family tree.
Whilst those with European ancestry have ready access to birth, death and marriage records, such
events were often not registered for aboriginals until the mid twentieth century. They do not appear
in many of the usual sources such as electoral rolls and post office directories that others would
search for information. Early cemetery records, another useful source for genealogists, often just
note a burial as "aboriginal". With many families having been moved to reserves and children
separated from their families, knowledge of even close family is often not readily available.
Paul discovered for himself how scarce the records were when assisting a friend in the research of
an aboriginal family. Since then he has sought to extract material from publicly available records in
various state and federal archives throughout Australia (material available for Queensland, Northern
Territory, Western Australia, Tasmania and New South Wales). He has searched and recorded any
entries relating to aboriginal families in documents from a diverse range of records including police,
hospital, education, cemetery, Colonial Secretary, Protector of Aboriginals, and Auditor General's
files, Police Letterbooks, Watch house charge books, wages registers, employment registers, permits
for employment, child endowment ledgers, registers for blanket distribution, pocket money record
books, removals, and many other sources. He has literally "been through hundreds of registers and
hundreds of thousand pages of correspondence looking for references to Aboriginal people", all this
in his spare time and lunch hours! For Queensland alone his transcripts and index extend to a
staggering 6,900 pages - a truly remarkable achievement.
He has made the results of his research freely available on the internet and through a variety of
libraries. A copy is held at the Queensland State Archives and the Community and Personal Histories
Section of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Partnerships (Qld) where it is used by
government staff to assist aboriginals trace the faint paper trail of their ancestry. Paul also
personally does research for those seeking answers to their history - again, all in his "spare" time.
A geologist by profession and a quiet achiever in family history circles, Paul has been recognised for
his work both locally and nationally - receiving the Queensland Family History Society Award for
Services to Family History in 1993 and the Order of Australia medal for his work in 1996. We now
recognise the invaluable work Paul Mackett has done on the wider family history stage."