Throughout the play Davis explores the issue of gender disparity and the different capabilities each sex may possess. There are several encounters of stories regarding the physical and sexual violence perpetrated on young girls by Superintendent Neal. Mary Dargurru, a young mother was assaulted by Mr Neal, reinforcing the abuse that was suffered by Aboriginal women at the hand of white men who exploited their power. Mary refuses to work in the hospital and tells Neal to “go to hell!” consequently she is flogged with the “Cat-o’-nine-tails”. Such weapon is a symbol of convict oppression further demonstrating that Neal is out of touch with the fast moving modernisation of society. Mary like many was separated from her family and perceived as a “give girl” who was to be handed over for marriage. Neal on the other hand is a sadist who uses physical violence to assert his power over those he’s meant to protect. He presents as a very cut-throat sexist man who cares only about himself. Neal believed that it was acceptable to use power to control other people who were considered inferior, such as his wife. Matron is aware of her husband’s deeds but is unable to voice her objections due to gender inequality at the time. Neal is lecherous around young indigenous girls and labels them as “savages” who need to be beaten and suppressed in order to become civilised. There are no ramifications for his actions due to his position of authority. Furthermore, other characters must enforce beliefs and attitudes they don’t necessarily agree with as a result of their mediocre position in society. The absence of personal choice for both Indigenous and non Indigenous characters diminishes their chance to connect. Institutional oppression is apparent when Sr Eileen, a catholic missionary wants to start a library for the Indigenous Sunday school. She is immediately refused permission from Neal as he believes that “a little knowledge is a dangerous thing”. Sr Eileen is puzzled between her morals and duties as she is “unsure which way to go”, whether to follow her Christian teachings or simply follow unjust orders. She is powerless under Neal as she is threatened to be “transfer[ed]... to another settlement... on the edge of the Gibson Desert”. Sergeant Carroll also is obliged to enforce attitudes that he condones. Carroll is instructed to move Joe and Mary as “no native [are to] remain in the Northam area” but states that he hasn’t “had any bother with them”. He is officious but not cruel as he is unable to publically disagree with those in positions of high authority. Carroll’s position of authority is lower to Neal; consequently he is powerless and restrained what he can do. Although a majority of characters are aware of the many forms of suppression apparent in the laws and policies they are incapable of expressing these injustices.
Thirdly the play explores the trivial application of the law which is arbitrarily applied as a means of control and racial oppression. This is made clear in the punishment Jimmy receives as a result of “hurl[ing] the [piss] bucket against the wall”. Frank Brown is only given 6 weeks in jail for illegally suppling alcohol to the natives, however if an Aboriginal were to assert himself regarding the discontinuation of soap rations he would receive 6 months imprisonment. This highlights that there is inequality in the system. The Justice of the Peace is a farmer which further demonstrates the inefficient system in