Neal has summed Sister Eileen to his office. He wants to know what hymn she has planned to sing for Australia Day, and she tells him she has been teaching the Aboriginal children “There is a Happy Land.”
“There is a Happy Land” is a hymn that teaches the Aboriginal children to be grateful for the land given to them by God. Ironically, the Aboriginal children have had this “happy land” stolen from them by the white colonists.
Neal then criticizes Sister Eileen for lending books to the Aboriginal families at the Settlement. He says there is an “unofficial directive,” and the Aborigines Department discourages teaching Aboriginal Australians to read. Sister Eileen is surprised, and admits she had been planning to ask to start a library. She insists it would cost nothing, as the books could be donated, but Neal shuts her down. Neal believes “a little knowledge is a dangerous thing,” and that the Settlement has enough “troublemakers” as it is “without giving them ideas.”
By preventing Aboriginal children and adults from learning to read, Neal again turns personal bigotry and bias into official policy. Because he does not like Aboriginal people, he guarantees that vast numbers of them will be kept in docile ignorance. He does not think this is actually for their own good; instead, he thinks it will make his life and his job easier.
Before Sister Eileen leaves, she tells Neal that she doesn’t like that attendance at her Sunday School classes has been violently enforced. Neal believes that no one would attend her classes if he did not force them, but Sister Eileen would “prefer that they come of their own free will.” Neal threatens to send Sister Eileen to another settlement by the Gibson Desert. Sister Eileen leaves, but before she goes, she asks Neal if he considers the Bible a book.
Sister Eileen is genuinely well-meaning, and she stands in stark contrast to Neal, who has no actual desire to help the Aboriginal people under his care. Still, Sister Eileen believes that religion will help save and enlighten Aboriginal children, assuming that her religion is better than theirs, and that she knows best.