In 1903, the Queensland government began to regulate the employment of Aborigines by requiring a contract of employment between employers and their Aboriginal workers and the establishment of a trust account in the Aborigines’ names into which part of the wages were to be paid. The system which was designed to prevent exploitation by employers became a device for the paternalist control of Aborigines by the State. The system was later closely linked to assimilation policies. The system provided protectors with extraordinary powers over the lives of working Aborigines. The State could sanction not only where Aborigines could be employed, but how they could spend their wages. This article examines the origins, development and administration of the trust account system in Queensland from its inception until its abolition in the 1960s.