The state and territory government legislation on this website was originally compiled for the Bringing Them Home Report in documenting 'the strength and struggles of many thousands of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people affected by forcible removal'.¹
The laws commence from the early nineteenth century through to modern times. The laws either applied specifically to Aboriginal children or were general child welfare/adoption laws.
Many of the specific laws cover far more than forced removal of Aboriginal children. The Acts gave a Board or agency (the Government Protector) comprehensive powers to regulate every aspect of Aboriginal people’s lives – from whether they lived on reserves, worked, had wages and entitlements withheld (now known as Stolen Wages), owned land, to their personal relationships and contact with family and community.
These specific laws were largely repealed by the 1960’s -1970’s in response to widespread concern as to the effects of these policies. The legacy of these laws lives on today.
Sir George Grey, a member of the Committee requested of the King of England: "... that measures be taken to secure to the natives of the several Colonies the due observance of justice, and protection of their rights."
However as government protectors were appointed and 'protection' laws passed, their role quickly changed from protection to the control of the lives of Aboriginal people.
This control included almost all aspects of Aboriginal people’s lives with ‘Protection’ laws and regulations determining every aspect of their lives – from the forced removal of children, where they lived, worked, had wages and entitlements withheld (now known as Stolen Wages), owned land, to their personal relationships and contact with family and community.. These laws were in force from the 1840s (in some states) and then, after federation, well into the 1960s and even the 1970s for some states.
On 21-23 April 1937, there was a conference held of "Chief Protectors and Boards controlling aborigines in the States and the Northern Territory." The proceedings of this conference clearly detail the degree of control that the state and territory governments had over Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people at that time.
This digital collection contains the full text of the annual reports of all state and territory ‘protection boards' and the subsequent government agencies. Each state’s reports can be searched adding to their historical research value.
More states will be added as they are digitised. Thank you for your patience.
¹Dedication from the Bringing Them Home Report
Australian Capital Territory
Legislation and Key Provisions
Adoption of Children Ordinance 1938 (Cth)
Regulated adoption of children in the ACT for the first time. The Child Welfare Act 1923 (NSW) which regulated adoption in NSW did not apply in the ACT. Consent to adoption required of parent or guardian, person with custody, or person liable to contribute to support. Consent may be dispensed with where a person has abandoned or deserted the infant; cannot be found; is incapable of giving consent; persistently neglected or refused to contribute to support of infant where liable; or where the court is satisfied that in all the circumstances it should be dispensed with. Repealed by Adoption of Children Ordinance 1965 (Cth).
Child Welfare Agreement Ordinance 1941 (Cth)
To approve an agreement made between Commonwealth and NSW for the reception, detention and maintenance in institutions in NSW of children committed to those institutions by courts of the ACT. When an ACT court commits a child to a state institution, the child may be taken by an ACT officer to a shelter in Sydney. The child then comes under the provisions of the Child Welfare Act 1939 (NSW) as if the child had been committed to a NSW institution by a NSW children's court. The agreement was varied by the Child Welfare Agreement Ordinance 1962. Repealed by Children's Services Ordinance 1986 (Cth).
Juvenile Offenders Ordinance 1941
An ACT court may commit a child under the Neglected Children and Juvenile Offenders Act 1905 (NSW) to a NSW institution. Repealed by Child Welfare Ordinance 1957 (PDF - Cth).
Neglected Children and Juvenile Offenders Ordinance 1949 (Cth)
Amended the definition of `neglected child' in the Neglected Children and Juvenile Offenders Act 1905 (NSW). Repealed by Child Welfare Ordinance 1957 (Cth).
Aborigines Welfare Ordinance 1954 (Cth)
The Minister may exercise a general supervision and care over all `aborigines' and over all matters affecting the interests and welfare of `aborigines'. On the application of a parent or guardian of a child, the Minister may admit the child to his control and provide for his/her maintenance, education and training. A person who in the opinion of the Minister is guilty of misconduct may be removed from a reserve. The Minister may apply to a court for an order to remove an `aboriginal person' or a person `apparently having an admixture of `aboriginal blood' to a reserve or such other place as the court directs on the ground that the person `is living in insanitary or undesirable conditions' or `should be placed under control'. The court may also direct that the person returns to the State or other place from which he/she came. The Minister may issue exemptions from ordinance. Repealed by Aborigines Welfare Repeal Ordinance 1965 (Cth).
From 1911 until 1989 a number of NSW laws as well as Commonwealth ordinances applied in the ACT as indicated below. Following self-government in 1989 the ACT passed its own laws. From 1915 the legislation applying in the ACT has also applied to Jervis Bay. For details of NSW laws refer to Appendix 1.1. After the Aborigines Welfare Repeal Ordinance 1965 the removal of all Aboriginal children came under the Child Welfare Ordinance 1957 and subsequent child welfare legislation.
Child Welfare Ordinance 1957
Ended the application of NSW child welfare legislation to the ACT. Where a court commits a child or young person to the care of the Minister on the ground that the child is neglected, or a parent has consented to the admission of a child or young person to government control, the child may be apprenticed, boarded out, placed out or placed as an adopted boarder. The court may also commit a neglected child to an institution. If a child committed to an institution may be removed to NSW for detention and maintenance in a State institution. The Minister is the guardian of wards. Amended by Child Welfare Amendment Ordinance 1979 (Cth) - removed powers of Minister to place a ward as an adopted boarder or apprentice. Minister to provide accommodation and maintenance for child admitted to government control. Minister may revoke an admission to government control on the application of a relative. Repealed by Children's Services Ordinance 1986 (Cth).
Infants Custody and Settlement Ordinance 1956 No. 2 (Cth)
Repealed Infants Custody and Settlements Act of 1899 (NSW). A court may, upon the application of a parent, make such order as it thinks fit regarding the custody of the infant. Where the court is of the opinion that a parent has abandoned, neglected or deserted an infant; so conducted himself/herself that custody should be refused; or the tender age of the infant of his/her state of health render it expedient he/she should remain with his/her mother or some other person then court may decline application for custody. Where a parent has abandoned, deserted or neglected an infant, the parent must satisfy the court that he/she is a fit person to have custody. Where the court is satisfied that a person with custody is unfit to continue because of cruelty or neglect, court may order the infant be given up to the custody of another. Repealed by Infants Custody and Settlements (Repeal) Act 1995 (ACT).
Adoption of Children Ordinance 1965 (Cth)
The welfare and interests of the child are the paramount consideration. Repealed by Adoption Act 1993 (ACT).
Children's Services Ordinance 1986 (Cth)
Replaced Child Welfare Ordinance 1957 (Cth). Emphasises strengthening and preserving the relationship between the child and his/her family and the desirability of leaving child in his or her home. Where a court finds that a child is in need of care it may make a supervision order; a residential order; commit the child to an institution; make the child a ward of the Director of Family Services; or refer the child to the Mental Health Tribunal for assessment.
Adoption Act 1993 (ACT)
An adoption order must be in accordance with the Aboriginal Child Placement Principle.
New South Wales
Legislation and Key Provisions
An Act to provide for the Care and Education of Infants who may be convicted of Felony or Misdemeanour 1849
Where a child under the age of 19 is convicted, court may assign care and custody of the child to such persons as make application where the court is satisfied it is for the benefit of the child. Repealed by Infants Conviction Act 1901.
State Children Relief Act 1881
Established State Children's Relief Board. `Boarding out' officers may remove children from charitable institutions and arrange for them to be boarded out in licensed homes. Regulations may be made prescribing terms and conditions upon which State children may be `adopted' by fit persons. Repealed by State Children Relief Act 1901.
Protection of Children Act 1892
Unlawful for certain persons without a written order of a Justice of the Peace to receive into care a child under the age of three 'to adopt, rear, nurse or otherwise raise for payment'. Repealed by Children's Protection Act 1902.
Custody of Children and Children's Settlements Act 1894
Where a parent applies for an order for the return of a child the court may refuse the order where it is of the opinion that the parent has abandoned or deserted or neglected the child or otherwise so conducted himself or herself that the court should refuse to enforce the parent's right to custody; or where the tender age or state of health of the child render it expedient that the child should remain with the child's mother or some other person. Repealed by Infants Custody and Settlements Act 1899.
Infants Custody and Settlements Act 1899
Similar to 1894 Act. Repealed by Children's Protection Act 1902.
Infant Convicts Adoption Act 1901
Where an infant under 19 years is convicted of a felony or misdemeanour, the court may assign the care or custody of the child to an applicant willing to take charge of him and provide for his maintenance if judged to be for infant's benefit. Repealed by Child Welfare Act 1939.
State Children Relief Act 1901
Established State Children's Relief Board with authority to direct the removal of State children; grant licences for the reception of State children as boarders; apprentice any child; approve persons applying to `adopt' State children; and arrange terms of `adoption'. Boarding out officer may remove State child from asylum, reformatory school, and arrange for a child to be boarded out. Repealed by Child Welfare Act 1923.
Children's Protection Act 1902
An offence for any person to receive a child under three to adopt, rear, nurse or otherwise maintain for payment a child, other than a guardian, manager or officer of an institution or private charity or a person exempted by Minister. An offence also to neglect or ill-treat a child. A child so found may be boarded out, sent to an industrial school or committed to the care of a relation or other person. Repealed by Child Welfare Act 1923.
Neglected Children and Juvenile Offenders Act 1905
A `neglected' or `uncontrollable' child may be apprehended and brought before a court which can release the child on probation, commit the child to an institution until the age of 18 years or to the care of a willing person. A child in an institution may be apprenticed in accordance with the Apprentices Act 1901. Repealed by Child Welfare Act 1923.
Aborigines Protection Act 1909
This Act gave the Board for the Protection of Aborigines statutory powers in relation to all reserves. Duty of the Board to provide for the custody, maintenance and education of the children of `aborigines'. Board may apprentice `the child of any aborigine or the neglected child of any person apparently having an admixture of aboriginal blood in his veins' subject to the Apprentices Act 1901. (The Apprentices Act 1901 provided for a minimum age of 14 years for apprentices and regulated the terms and conditions of apprenticeships.) The Board vested with power over all reserves including power to remove people from them. Entry onto reserves by non-Aborigines forbidden. Regulations may be made for the care, custody and education of Aborigines and prescribing the conditions on which certain children may be apprenticed under the Act.
Aborigines Protection Amending Act 1915
Removed the requirement that an Aboriginal child had to be found to be neglected before the Board could remove him/her. `The Board may assume full control and custody of the child of any aborigine, if after due inquiry it is satisfied that such a course is in the interest of the moral or physical welfare of such child' and remove such child to such control and care as it thinks best. Parents of a child removed in this way may appeal to a court. Apprenticeship of children by the Board no longer subject to the Apprentices Act 1901. The Board may apprentice children `on such terms and conditions as it may think under the circumstances of the case to be desirable'. Every child so apprenticed who refuses to go to the person to whom the Board has apprenticed him/her may be removed, for the purpose of being trained, to some home or institution as the Board may arrange. Repealed by Aborigines Act 1969.
Governor Macquarie: Proclamation dated 4 May 1816 Aborigines declared subject to the protection of British law, but any infractions may render them outlawed and lead to loss of privileges.
Aborigines Protection (Amendment) Act 1918
Provisions in 1909 Act giving Board power over a person `apparently having an admixture of aboriginal blood in his veins' removed. Repealed by Aborigines Act 1969.
Child Welfare Act 1923
Court given similar power as in 1905 Act to commit a `neglected' or `uncontrollable' child. All children committed to or inmates of an institution in the custody are under the control of the superintendent of the institution until they attain the age of 18 or are discharged, removed, apprenticed or placed out. A child may be adopted if the child's parents or guardian consent. Consent may be dispensed with if the court is of the opinion that the parent or guardian has deserted or abandoned the child. Amended by Child Welfare (Amendment) Act 1924 - court may dispense with consent in any special circumstances where it deems it expedient to do so. Repealed by Child Welfare Act 1939.
Aborigines Protection (Amendment) Act 1936
Court may order the removal of an `aborigine' who is `living in insanitary or undesirable conditions' to a reserve or a place controlled by the Board or to the State from whence he/she came. Repealed by Aborigines Act 1969.
Child Welfare Act 1939
Replaced the Child Welfare Act 1923. Where a court finds that a child is neglected it may release the child on certain conditions; commit the child to the care of the Minister to be dealt with as a State ward or commit the child to the care of an institution. The Minister of Child Welfare is the guardian `of every child...who becomes a ward to the exclusion of the parent or other guardian'. Minister may direct the removal or transfer of any ward; remove any child from any charitable institution, depot, home or hostel and cause him/her to be apprenticed, boarded out, placed out or placed as an adopted boarder. An adoption order may be made if it promotes the welfare and interests of child. Parents or guardian must consent to adoption but consent may be dispensed with where the court deems it just and reasonable to do so. Amended by Child Welfare Amendment Act 1961 - where payment of maintenance for child who is an inmate of a charitable depot, home or hostel has not been paid for 1-6 months, the child may be admitted to State control and the person in charge of the charitable depot, home or hostel deemed to be the child's foster parent. Child Welfare (Amendment) Act 1966 - where it appears to an officer or person in charge of a depot, home or hostel that the welfare of the child may be promoted, the child may be committed by a court to the care of Minister to be dealt with as a ward admitted to State control; apprenticed, boarded out, placed out or placed as an adopted boarder. Repealed by Children (Care and Protection) Act 1987.
Aborigines Protection (Amendment) Act 1940
Aborigines Protection Board replaced by Aborigines Welfare Board. An Aboriginal child found to be neglected under the Child Welfare Act 1939 to be committed to the Board as a `ward of the Board'. Duties of the Board include `assisting aborigines in obtaining employment' and `maintaining or assisting to maintain them whilst so employed, or otherwise for the purpose of assisting aborigines to become assimilated into the general life of the community'. The Board no longer has duty of education of Aboriginal children but still has duty of custody and maintenance. It may establish homes for the reception, maintenance, education and training of wards. Where in the opinion of the Board a ward is not ready for employment or apprenticeship `the ward may be placed in a home for the purpose of being maintained, educated and trained'. Wages of children to be paid to the Board and kept in a trust account for use by the Board for the ward's benefit until the ward turns 21. An offence to try to communicate with a ward in a home or enter any such home without the consent of the Board. Where a children's court finds that a child is neglected or uncontrollable under the Child Welfare Act, the court may deal with the child in accordance with that Act, except that where the court decides that the child should be admitted to State control the child shall be committed to the care of the Board as a ward; and where the court decides to commit the child to an institution the child shall be committed to an institution established under this Act. Repealed by Aborigines Act 1969.
Aborigines Protection (Amendment) Act 1943
The Board may issue (and cancel) exemption certificates whereby an Aboriginal person `shall be deemed not to be an aborigine or a person apparently having an admixture of aboriginal blood'. The Board may board-out children admitted to its control. Once an Aboriginal child has attained the minimum school leaving age the child is to be apprenticed or placed in employment. The Board is the authority in relation to children admitted to its control with power over removal and transfer of wards, apprenticing wards and approving custody of wards. Repealed by Aborigines Act 1969.
Aborigines Protection (Amendment) Act 1963
Repeal of provisions allowing a magistrate to send `mixed blood' Aboriginal people to a place controlled by the Board; and those which made it an offence to take an adult Aboriginal person away from NSW and for non-Aboriginal and Aboriginal people to live together. Repealed by Aborigines Act 1969.
Adoption of Children Act 1965
The welfare and interests of child are the paramount consideration. In making an adoption order the Court may dispense with consent if a person cannot be found or identified; the person is not capable of properly considering the question; the person is unfit to discharge the obligations of parent or guardian having abandoned, deserted, neglected or ill treated a child; the person failed to discharge obligations of parent or guardian; or there are any other special circumstances by reason of which consent may be dispensed with. Amended by Adoption of Children Amendment Act 1966(PDF - 146 KB) 1966 - court power to dispense with consent due to `other special circumstances' removed. Court may dispense with consent where the interests and welfare of child are promoted by the adoption order.
Adoption of Children (Amendment) Act 1980 - established the Adoption Tribunal.
Aborigines Act 1969
Abolition of Aborigines Welfare Board. Aboriginal children under the care of the Aborigines Welfare Board to become wards of the State. Aboriginal children's institutions deemed to be depots under the Child Welfare Act 1939 and subsequent child welfare legislation. After Aboriginal Protection (Amendment) Act 1940, Aboriginal children were removed under the Child Welfare Act 1939 and subsequent child welfare legislation.
Children (Care and Protection) Act 1987
Introduced Aboriginal Child Placement Principle. Concept of `neglect' replaced by `behaviour that harms the child'.
Community Welfare Act 1987
The objects of community welfare legislation include the promotion of the welfare of Aborigines on the basis of a recognition of Aboriginal culture, identity, community structures and standards, the rights of Aborigines to raise and protect their own children and to be involved in decision making processes that affect them and their children.
Protection of the Aborigines (report of the board):
Aborigines, Report of Board for the Protection of, for year :
Aborigines, Report of Board for Protection of, for the year ended 30th June:
Aborigines Welfare Board, Annual Report for the year ended 30th June:
Legislation and Key Provisions
Aboriginals Ordinance 1911 (Cth)
To be read with Aborigines Act 1910. After the Northern Territory became a territory of the Commonwealth on 1.1.1911 all South Australian laws remained in force until altered by a Commonwealth law. Chief Protector may undertake the care, custody or control of any 'aboriginal or half-caste' if in his opinion it is necessary or desirable. A protector or police officer may take 'any aboriginal or half-caste' into custody if he believes that person is not being properly treated. An 'aboriginal or half-caste' remaining within a prohibited area is guilty of an offence and may be removed. Repealed by Aboriginals Ordinance 1918.
Aboriginals Ordinance 1918
Combined the 1910 Act (SA) and the 1911 Ordinance (Cth), giving the Chief Protector wide-ranging powers over Aboriginal people. Repealed by Welfare Ordinance 1953.
Aboriginals Ordinance 1953 (No 2)
Amended definition of 'aboriginal' to remove references to 'half-castes'. Director made the legal guardian of all 'aboriginals'. Director may declare a person with an 'aboriginal' ancestor to be an 'aboriginal' if it is in that person's 'best interests' and that person requests the Director to do so. Director to keep a register of persons declared to be 'aboriginals'. Repealed by Welfare Ordinance 1953.
Welfare Ordinance 1953-60
Director of Welfare given extensive powers over the lives of people declared to be 'wards'. Although the Ordinance made no reference to Aboriginality, the exception of people eligible to vote from the class of people that could be declared to be wards meant that it could only apply to Aboriginal people. The Administrator may declare a person to be a 'ward' because that person 'stands in need of special care and assistance' owing to that person's 'manner of living'; 'inability, without assistance, adequately to manage his own affairs'; 'standard of social habit and behaviour'; or 'personal associations'. No person entitled to vote may be declared a ward. The Director of Welfare made the legal guardian of all wards. The Director to keep a Register of Wards. The Wards Appeal Tribunal to hear appeals against a wardship declaration. If the Director considered it to be in the best interests of the ward, a ward may be taken into custody; detained on a reserve or in an institution; or removed from one reserve or institution to another. The Administrator's authorisation required for the removal of a child under 14 years if it means removal from his/her parents. Director may make orders authorising police to enter, search and remove a child. A non-ward may not habitually live with a ward unless the non-ward is a relation. Director may order a ward not to live with another ward. A male non-ward may not live with or be in the company of a female ward after sunset. A ward may not marry without the consent of the Director. Director may manage property of wards. Repealed by Social Welfare Ordinance 1964.
Child Welfare Ordinance 1958
Replaced State Children's Act 1895 (SA). Similar definitions of 'destitute' and 'neglected' as in the 1895 Act. Director is the legal guardian of every State child to the exclusion of the child's parent or other guardian. A court may declare a child to be destitute, neglected, incorrigible or uncontrollable and commit the child to the care of the Director or another person, to be sent to an institution or released on probation. A State child who absconds from an institution or other placement is guilty of an offence. The Territory Administrator may declare a mission station, reformatory, orphanage, school, home or other establishment whether within the NT or not as an institution for the purposes of the Ordinance. A State child may be sent to a place within the Commonwealth to be placed under control, trained, educated, cared for and maintained. Repealed by Community Welfare Act 1983.
Welfare Ordinance 1961
Extends the definition of ward to include an Aboriginal person under the control of the Qld, WA or SA legislation entering the NT and allows for the removal of wards from the NT. If the removal of a ward would mean the separation of a child under 14 years from his/her parents or the separation of a parent from a child under the age of 15 years, then the court must be satisfied that 'necessary and adequate arrangements have been made for the 'maintenance, education and care of the child'. Repealed by Social Welfare Ordinance 1964.
Social Welfare Ordinance 1964
Restricted entry to reserves and assistance of the Department of Social Welfare to people who 'in the opinion of the Director are socially or economically in need of assistance'. A welfare officer can suspend the right of an 'aboriginal' to enter or remain on a reserve. Repealed by Community Welfare Act 1983.
Community Welfare Act 1983
Introduced the Aboriginal Child Placement Principle for the first time in legislation in Australia. The Minister may grant assistance to a person, family or group. The Minister is to act in accordance with the welfare of the child. In making orders in relation to a child in need of care the court must take account of the Aboriginal Child Placement Principle.
Adoption of Children Act 1994
Included the Aboriginal Child Placement Principle. Recognised traditional Aboriginal marriages for the purpose of adoption. Regulations Adoption of Children Regulation 1994 - a parent may record wishes regarding the suitability of the adoptive parents and regarding access to the child or giving or receiving information about the child.
From 1863 until 1911, the Northern Territory was annexed to South Australia.
In 1911, the Northern Territory Aboriginals Ordinance established the NT Aboriginals Department. The Chief Protector was appointed the 'legal guardian of every Aboriginal and every half-caste child up to the age of 18 years'.
In 1918, the Chief Protector's powers were extended. Under the Aborigines Ordinance 1918 , all Indigenous females were under the total control of the Chief Protector unless they were married and living with a husband 'who is substantially of European origin'.
In 1927, the Commonwealth Government set up an inquiry into Indigenous affairs in the Northern Territory. The report found that many Indigenous people were not paid wages, living conditions were appalling and that government-run institutions 'were badly situated, inadequately financed and insufficiently supervised'. The report also recommended that missions be given responsibility for Indigenous children.
The introduction of the Welfare Ordinance 1953 started the move towards assimilation through general child welfare laws. Indigenous and non-Indigenous children were now covered by the same law.' However only those people who had no voting rights could be made wards and at this time most Indigenous people could not vote.
In 1955, the NT Government decided that Indigenous children in homes and missions should be moved to homes in the southern States. By the close of the 1960s, children were being placed into foster care as institutions and homes were being closed. In 1971, 97 percent of all Territory children in foster care were Indigenous.
The assimilation policy was formally abolished by the Commonwealth Government in 1973, in favour of self-management by Indigenous people. In 1978, the Northern Territory was granted self-government by an Act of the Commonwealth Parliament. See the NT Laws page for any laws passed after this date.
Users are warned that these documents may contain words or descriptions which reflect the author's attitude or that of the period in which the item was written. These may be considered inappropriate today in some circumstances. Users should also be aware that these reports contain images and other references to deceased people which may cause sadness or distress, particularly to the relatives of these people.
Please note: only those sections specific to Aboriginal people have been digitised.
South Australia - Quarterly Report on Northern Territory
South Australia - Government Resident's Report on Northern Territory
Northern Territory of Australia, Report of the Administrator
Report on the Administration of North Australia for the year ended 30th June
Report on the Administration of the Northern Territory
Legislation and Key Provisions
Industrial and Reformatory Schools Act 1865
Established and regulated industrial and reformatory schools for children under 15 who were 'neglected' or convicted of an offence. Missions were registered as industrial or reformatory schools. A constable may arrest without a warrant any child he considers to be neglected. A court composed of two or more Justices may order a child found to be neglected to be removed from his/her mother and placed in an industrial or reformatory school. Amended by Industrial and Reformatory Schools Amendment Act 1906 - removes reference to Aboriginal children and extends age of child to 17 years. Repealed by State Children Act 1911.
Orphanages Act 1879
A destitute child may be removed to an orphanage declared under this Act. Repealed by State Children Act 1911.
Guardianship and Custody of Infants Act 1891
Where a parent has abandoned or deserted an infant or 'allowed his infant to be brought up by any other person ... as to satisfy the court that the parent was unmindful of his parental duties', the court shall not make an order for the delivery of the infant to the parent unless the parent has satisfied the court 'he is a fit person to have custody'. Repealed by Children's Services Act 1965.
Children's Protection Act 1896
Applies to boys under 14 and girls under 16. An offence to 'ill treat, neglect, abandon or expose a child' in a 'manner likely to cause such child unnecessary suffering or injury to its health'. Court can deal with a child found to be ill treated, neglected, abandoned or exposed as the 'circumstances may admit and require'. Repealed by the Children's Services Act 1965.
Aboriginal Protection and Restriction of the Sale of Opium Act 1897
For the 'better protection and care of the aboriginal and half-caste inhabitants of the colony' and 'for restricting the sale and distribution of opium'. Established positions of regional Protectors and later Chief Protector. Repealed by Aboriginal Preservation and Protection Act 1939.
Infant Life Protection Act 1905
Any person wishing to adopt a child under the age of 10 may make application to the Director of the State Children Department for permission. The Director must obtain consent in writing of parent, parents or guardian. Repealed by State Children Act 1911.
State Children Act 1911
Replaced the 1865 Act. The Director of State Children Department is the guardian of all State children. The Director may place a State child in a receiving depot; detain him/her in an institution registered under this Act; transfer him/her from one institution to another; place out or apprentice him/her; or place him/her in the custody of some suitable person. This action may be taken without reference to parents or relatives of the child. Amended by State Children Act 1917 - a court may release a child on probation. Repealed by Children's Services Act 1965.
Protection of Aboriginals and Restriction of the Sale of Opium Amendment Act 1934
Extended the provisions of the 1897 Act and the powers of the Chief Protector. Every Aboriginal and 'half-caste' child who is an inmate of an institution registered under the State Children Act 1911 shall be under the control and supervision of the Protector'. 'The Minister may from time to time cause any aboriginal or half-caste ... to be removed to any reserve, institution, or district and kept there, or to be removed from any reserve, institution, or district to any other reserve institution or district, and kept there'. This does not apply to any 'aboriginal or half-caste who is lawfully married to and residing with any person who is not an aboriginal or half caste or otherwise subject to this Act'; or 'a half-caste child living with and supported by a parent of such child who is not subject to this Act'. A 'half-caste' may be exempted from the provisions of this Act (revokable). If the Minister is of the opinion that any 'aboriginal' or 'half-caste' is uncontrollable he may order the 'aboriginal' or 'half-caste' to be kept in an institution. 'Any such order is sufficient authority for the Chief Protector, or any Protector, or any person acting under the authority of the Chief Protector or of a Protector, or any officer of police to arrest such aboriginal or half-caste and remove to an institution'. Any 'aboriginal or half caste' who is convicted of an offence against the 1897 Act or this Act may be detained in an institution. Repealed by Aboriginal Preservation and Protection Act 1939.
Adoption of Children Act 1935
Provides for adoption of 'infants' under 21. The Director of the State Children Department is responsible for making an adoption order. Director may dispense with the consent of the child's parents or guardian if satisfied that a parent or guardian has 'abandoned or deserted the infant or cannot be found or is incapable of giving consent; has persistently neglected to contribute to support; or is a person whose consent ought, in the opinion of the Director and in all the circumstances of the case, to be dispensed with'. Repealed by Adoption of Children Act 1964.
Aboriginals Preservation and Protection Act 1939
Director of Native Affairs is the 'legal guardian of every aboriginal child under 21'. Director may 'execute agreements between or on the part of aboriginals in the State for the legal custody of aboriginal children by aboriginals or other persons who in his opinion are suitable persons to be given legal custody of such children'. Director may cause any 'aboriginals' who are camped near a town to 'remove their camp to such other place as he may direct'. Director may cause any 'aboriginals' to be 'removed from any district to a reserve and kept there for such time as may be ordered' or to be removed from one reserve to another. This power does not apply to 'a half-blood child living with and supported by a parent of such child who is not subject to this Act'. Regulations made be made for the 'care, custody and education of the children of aboriginals' and prescribing the conditions on which 'aboriginal' children may be apprenticed or placed in service. Repealed by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Act 1965.
Torres Strait Islander Act 1939
Director may cause an Islander to be removed from any reserve to another reserve or to a reserve under the Aboriginals Act 1939 and kept there. 'No such removal shall be effected without the recommendation of the Island court'. Repealed by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs Act 1965.
Adoption of Children Act 1964
The Supreme Court is responsible for making an order for adoption. The welfare and interests of the child are the paramount consideration in making an order for adoption. Grounds for dispensing with consent similar to those in 1935 Act and include 'special circumstances by reason of which the consent may properly be dispensed with'. Amended by Adoption of Children Act 1983 - to dispense with consent the court must also be satisfied that the welfare and interests of the child will be promoted if the order is made.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs Act 1965
Established position of Director of Aboriginal and Island Affairs in place of Director of Native Welfare. Director is no longer the legal guardian of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children. Director may order an assisted Aborigine or Islander who is not residing on a reserve 'to be transferred from any district to a reserve'; and upon the recommendation of an Aboriginal Court of a reserve on which the assisted Aborigine is residing, order the assisted Aborigine to be transferred from such reserve to another reserve for Aborigines. Similar provisions in relation to Islanders. Regulations may be made for the preservation, development, assimilation, integration, education, training and employment of assisted Aborigines and assisted Islanders; the care of children of assisted Aborigines or assisted Islanders other than such children who are in the care, protection or control of the Director of the State Children Department; and the employment and apprenticeship of children of assisted Aborigines or Islanders other than such children who are in the care, protection or control of the Director of the State Children Department. Repealed by Aborigines Act 1971 & Torres Strait Islander Act 1971.
Children's Services Act 1965
Replaced the 1911 Act. Established Department of Children's Services. Missions and government settlements were licensed as institutions. A child found to be in need of care and protection may be admitted to the 'care and protection' of the director of the department if a court is satisfied that the child's care and protection cannot be secured by any other order it could make such as ordering a parent or guardian to enter into a recognizance or ordering the director to have 'protective supervision' over the child. The director has guardianship of a child admitted to his/her care and protection. Similar powers in relation to a child in 'need of care and control'. Once admitted to the care and protection of the director the child may be placed, in the best interests of the child, with the child's parents, a relative or friend, in an institution licensed under the Act or in a hostel. The director may grant financial assistance to a family to help care for a child.
Aborigines Act 1971
Abolished status of 'assisted Aborigine'. Established Director of Aboriginal and Island Affairs. An offence to be on a reserve unless entitled under the Act to be there. A permit may be revoked by the Aboriginal council established for that reserve or by the Director. Regulations may be made with respect to the development, assimilation, integration, education, training and preservation of Aborigines; the care of children (being Aborigines) other than those who are in the care and protection or control of the Director of Children's Services. Repealed by Community Services (Aborigines) Act 1984.
Torres Strait Islander Act 1971
Abolished status of assisted Islander. Similar provisions to the Aborigines Act 1971. Repealed by Community Services (Torres Strait) Act 1984.
Adoption of Children (Amendment) Act 1987
Amended the Adoption of Children Act 1965 to provide that the Director 'shall have regard to the indigenous or ethnic background and cultural background of the child'.
Protectors' reports lists
Annual Report of the Northern Protector of Aboriginals
Annual Report of the Chief Protector of Aboriginals
Reports upon the Operations of certain Sub-Departments of the Home Secretary's Department - Aboriginals Department - Information contained in Report for the year ended 31st December
Native Affairs - Information contained in Reports of Director of Native Affairs for the Twelve months ended 30th June
Legislation and Key Provisions
An Ordinance for the Protection, Maintenance and Upbringing of Orphans and other Destitute Children and Aborigines Act 1844
Protector of Aborigines made the legal guardian of every 'aboriginal and half-caste child' whose parents are dead or unknown, or one of whom agrees, until the age of 21. Any two Justices, with the consent of the Governor and one of the parents, may apprentice 'any half-caste or other aboriginal child having obtained a suitable age' until the age of 21 provided that 'due and reasonable provision is made for the maintenance, clothing and humane treatment of any apprentice.' Repealed by Aborigines Act 1911.
Destitute Persons Act 1881
Two Justices may commit a destitute or neglected child to an industrial school to be detained until the age of 16 years (boys) or 18 years (girls). Destitute Board may apprentice children, manage their wages and property, licence foster mothers and supervise education, work and discipline. Amended by Destitute Persons Act Amendment Act 1886 - introduced term 'State child' for destitute and neglected children. Established the State Children's Council to replace the Destitute Persons' Board. Ages for detention of boys and girls made uniform (under 18 years). Repealed by State Children's Act 1895.
State Children's Act 1895
State Children's Council established with responsibility for the care of State children. State Children's Council responsible for the care, management and control of State Children and their property, including their apprenticeship, placement and attendance at school until 13 years. Repealed by Child Welfare Ordinance 1958.
Children's Protection Act 1899
An offence for a near relative or other person having the care, custody or control of a child to neglect to provide food, clothing and lodging for the child; to ill-treat, neglect, abandon or expose the child or cause the child to be so treated. A child found by a court to be so treated may be removed to an institution. Repealed by Children's Protection Act 1936.
Aborigines Act 1911
Established the position of Chief Protector of Aboriginals and a system of regional Protectors. Aboriginals Department to provide for the 'custody, maintenance and education of the children of aboriginals' and to 'exercise a general supervision and care over all matters affecting the well-being of aboriginals'. Chief Protector is the legal guardian of 'every aboriginal and half-caste child, notwithstanding that any such child has a parent or other relative living' until the age of 21 years, except while the child is a 'State child' within the meaning of the State Children Act 1895. Each regional Protector is the local guardian of every child within his district. The Chief Protector 'may cause every aboriginal or half-caste to be kept within the boundaries of any reserve or aboriginal institution, or to be removed to and kept within the boundaries of any reserve or aboriginal institution, or to be removed from one reserve or aboriginal institution to another'. An 'aboriginal or half-caste who refuses to be so removed' commits an offence. A medical practitioner may order the removal of an 'aboriginal or half caste' child to any 'lock-hospital'. Regulations may be made for the 'care, custody and education of the children of aboriginals and half-castes'; 'enabling any aboriginal or half-caste child to be sent to and detained in an aboriginal institution or industrial school'; and prescribing the conditions on which 'aboriginal or half-caste children' may be apprenticed. Repealed by Aborigines Act 1934.
Aborigines (Training of Children) Act 1923
Expanded the definitions of 'aboriginal' and 'half-caste' in the 1911 Act. Provided for the removal of an 'aboriginal child' to an institution under the control of the State Children's Council. The Chief Protector 'may ... commit any aboriginal child to any institution within the meaning of the State Children Act 1895, ... to be there detained or otherwise dealt with under the said Act until such child attains the age of eighteen years'. Applies to legitimate 'aboriginal' children who have obtained a qualifying certificate under the Education Act 1915 or who are at least fourteen years old and all illegitimate children irrespective of age who in the opinion of the Chief Protector and the State Children's Council are neglected. Repealed by Aborigines Act 1934.
Adoption of Children Act 1925
Introduced a system of legal adoption of children in South Australia for children under the age of 15 years. Repealed by Adoption of Children Act 1966/7.
Maintenance Act 1926 [also known as the Social Welfare Act 1926]
Consolidated Destitute Persons Act 1881-1886 and State Children Act 1895-1918. Made provision for granting assistance to mothers for the maintenance of their children. State Children Council replaced by Children's Welfare and Public Relief Board. Amended by Maintenance Act Amendment Act 1965 - Children's Welfare and Public Relief Board replaced by Social Welfare Advisory Board. A child may no longer be removed on the ground of destitution but an 'uncontrollable child' may be. An 'uncontrollable child' is one who has acquired or is likely to acquire habits of immorality, vice or crime and whose parents or guardians appear unable or unwilling to exercise adequate supervision or control. Repealed by Community Welfare Act 1972.
Aborigines Act 1934
Combined the provisions of the 1911 Act and the 1923 Act. No significant alterations to the powers or duties of the Chief Protector. Chief Protector may commit any 'aboriginal child to any institution within the meaning of the Maintenance Act 1926 ... to be there detained or otherwise dealt with under the said Act until such child attains the age of eighteen years'. The child may then be dealt with as a neglected child under the Maintenance Act. These provisions only apply to legitimate 'aboriginal' children who have either obtained a qualifying certificate within the meaning of the Education Act 1915 or attained the age of fourteen years; and illegitimate 'aboriginal' children who, in the opinion of the Chief Protector and the Children's Welfare and Public Relief Board are neglected or otherwise proper persons to be dealt with under this Act'. Chief Protector has similar powers to remove 'aboriginals' and 'half-castes' as in 1911 Act. Repealed by Aboriginal Affairs Act 1962.
Children's Protection Act 1936
Similar to 1899 Act. Repealed by Community Welfare Act 1972.
Aborigines Act Amendment Act 1939
Position of Chief Protector replaced by the Aborigines Protection Board. Each member of the Board to be a protector of Aborigines for the whole of the state. System of regional protectors continued. Definition of 'aborigine' expanded and ceased to distinguish 'half-castes'. Established a system of exemptions from the jurisdiction of the Act. 'Where the board is of the opinion that any aborigine by reason of his character and standard of intelligence and development should be exempted from the provisions of this Act, the board may ... declare that the aborigine shall cease to be an aborigine for the purposes of this Act'. Exemptions may be conditional and revokable for three years or unconditional and irrevocable. Repealed by Aboriginal Affairs Act 1962.
Aboriginal Affairs Act 1962
Aborigines Protection Board replaced by Aboriginal Affairs Board. The new Board ceased to be the legal guardian of Aboriginal children. The duties of the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs include the management and regulation of reserves; general supervision and care overall matters affecting the welfare of Aborigines and persons of Aboriginal blood; 'in his absolute discretion to provide, in cases of need, when possible, for the maintenance and education of the children of Aborigines and persons of Aboriginal blood'; and 'to promote the social, economic and political development of Aborigines and persons of Aboriginal blood until their integration into the general community. The Board is to establish and maintain a Register of Aborigines and has the power to remove names of those persons 'who, in its opinion, are capable of accepting the full responsibilities of citizenship'. An applicant whose name the Board refuses to remove may appeal to a special magistrate. Amended by Aboriginal Affairs Act Amendment Act 1966/7 - provided for the establishment of Aboriginal Reserve Councils. Aboriginal Affairs Act Amendment Act 1968 - abolished the Register of Aborigines. Repealed by Community Welfare Act 1972.
Juvenile Courts Act 1965/6
A Juvenile Court may commit a child to an institution or to the care of the Minister if a complaint charging a child with being a neglected or uncontrollable child is proved. To be read with Maintenance Act 1926-65. Repealed by Juvenile Courts Act 1971.
Adoption of Children Act 1966/7
Replaces previous adoption legislation. Repealed by Adoption of Children Act 1988.
Juvenile Courts Act 1971
Establishes Juvenile Aid Panels to deal with truants and uncontrollable children. The Panel may recommend that a matter be referred to a Juvenile Court or may deal with the matter directly. Repealed by Children's Protection and Young -Offenders Act 1979.
Community Welfare Act 1972 [also known as Family and Community Services Act 1971]
Repeals Social Welfare Act 1926-71, Aboriginal Affairs Act 1962-68 and Children's Protection Act 1936-69. A child committed to care may be placed with his/her parents, approved foster parents, a 'house', hospital, mental hospital or as the case may require. In the placement of children the interests of the child are the paramount consideration. Assistance may be granted to families and persons in need. Amended by Community Welfare Act Amendment Act 1973 - removes Minister's power to manage property of Aboriginal people and communities. Community Welfare Act Amendment Act 1976 - notification requirements in relation to suspected neglect, abuse. Community Welfare Act Amendment Act 1981 - definition of 'Aboriginal'deleted. Community Welfare Amendment Act 1982 - in the administration of the Act account to be taken of 'the different customs, attitudes and religious beliefs of the ethnic groups within the community'.
Children's Protection and Young Offenders Act 1979
Where the Minister is of the opinion that a child is in need of care because he/she is maltreated, neglected, the child's guardians are unwilling or unable to exercise supervision or to maintain the child, or the child's guardians have abandoned him/her or cannot be located, the Minister may apply to the Children's Court for a declaration that the child is in need of care. Repealed by The Status Repeal and Amendment (Children Protection and Young Offenders) Act 1993.
Adoption Act 1988
Aboriginal Child Placement Principle. Traditional Aboriginal marriages recognised for the purpose of adoption.
Youth Court Act 1993, Young Offenders Act 1993 and Children's Protection Act 1993
Include Aboriginal Child Placement Principle.
Report from Protector of Aborigines, for six months ended June 30:
Report of the Sub-Protector of Aborigines for Half-Year ending December 31:
Report of the Protector of Aborigines for the Year ended June 30:
Report of the Chief Protector of Aboriginals for the year ended 30th June:
Report of the Aborigines Protection Board for the year ended 30th June
Legislation and Key Provisions
Industrial Schools Act 1867
Repealed by Youthful Offenders, Destitute and Neglected Children's Act 1896.
The Prevention of Cruelty to and Better Protection of Children Act 1895
Repealed by Infants' Welfare Act 1935.
Youthful Offenders, Destitute and Neglected Children's Act 1896
Repealed by The Children of the State Act 1918.
Infant Life Protection Act 1907
Repealed by The Children of the State Act 1918.
Cape Barren Island Reserve Act 1912
An Act `to provide for the subdivision of the Cape Barren Island reserve and for occupation of portion thereof by the descendants of Aboriginal natives'. Secretary for Lands responsible for promoting welfare and well-being of residents of the reserve. Cape Barren Island reserve, which was created in 1881, to be subdivided into homestead and agricultural blocks. Persons named in schedule and their widows and descendants may make application for licences to occupy land free of rent. Residents required to reside continuously in their houses for six months each year. Licences may be bequeathed to widow or descendants but if widow who is a licensee marries `a white man' all her rights to the licence cease. Persons over 21 years who are not licensed occupiers or lessees may be removed from reserve. `In order to encourage the settlement of the half-castes in other parts of Tasmania outside the Reserve' an applicant may be granted a licence to occupy Crown land elsewhere in Tasmania. Regulations may be made for the control of residents upon the reserve. Repealed by Cape Barren Island Reserve Act 1945.
The Children of the State Act 1918
Repealed by Infants' Welfare Act 1935.
Adoption of Children Act 1920
Provided for the legal adoption of children under the age of 17 years for the first time in Tasmania. Police magistrates given the power to make an adoption order but the Registrar-General may also exercise the power. The written consent of parents or legal guardian required unless the child is a child of the State or a `deserted child'. A deserted child is `any child who, in the opinion of a police magistrate, is deserted and has ceased to be cared for and maintained by its parents or by such one of them as is living'. Amended by Adoption of Children Act 1941 - age of a `child' for adoption raised to 21 years. Adoption of Children Act 1945 - if a police magistrate is satisfied that the parents or guardian of a child are dead or their whereabouts are unknown for not less than five years or it is impracticable to obtain the consent of the parents or legal guardian and that it is in the interests of the child to do so, the police magistrate may make an adoption order without their consent. Repealed by Adoption of Children Act 1968.
Infants Welfare Act 1935
`An Act to consolidate and amend the Law relating to Welfare of Children and the Protection of Infant Life'. A child may be apprehended as neglected and detained in a receiving home or other specified place to be taken before a children's court. The court may commit a neglected or uncontrollable child to the care of the Social Services Department or to an institution. Where a child is charged with being neglected or uncontrollable, the parents have a right to be heard, but if the parents do not appear the court can hear the matter without them. A child may also be admitted to the care of the director on the application of his/her parent or near relative or any person of good repute to be dealt with in the same way as a neglected or uncontrollable child. The Director of Social Services is the guardian of every child of the State and may place a child in a receiving home or in an institution; board-out, apprentice or place the child in service; or place the child in the custody of a suitable person. An offence to wilfully ill-treat, neglect, abandon or expose a child; communicate with a child in an institution; or, being a near relative liable to maintain a child, to desert the child or leave the child without adequate means of support. Repealed by Child Welfare Act 1960.
Cape Barren Island Reserve Act 1945
Islanders required to develop and cultivate land on Cape Barren Island within the following 5 years or it reverts to the Crown.Surveyor-General to `manage and regulate the use and enjoyment of the Reserve' and `exercise a general supervision and care over all matters affecting the interests and welfare of the residents of the Reserve'. Leases to contain covenants that lessor will make substantial improvements to the land, fence and cultivate the land and that his wife and family will reside on it for at least nine months per year. Lessee may bequeath lease to a member of his family, which comprises only his wife and children, living on the reserve at the time of death. Any person over the age of 21 who is not a lessee, or the son of a lessee who is permanently employed by and receiving wages from a lessee, may be removed from the reserve. Regulations may be made for the peace, order and good government of the reserve. Expired 1951.
Domestic Assistance Services Act 1947
Established a domestic assistance service to assist in homes where the mother is unable to undertake `ordinary domestic duties by reason of pregnancy or maternity, or by reason of accident, sickness or infirmity of any kind' or where the lack of domestic assistance service in the home is a cause of hardship.'
Child Welfare Act 1960
Replaced the 1935 Act. Under this Act honorary child welfare officers may be appointed. In 1966 there was an honorary child welfare officer appointed on Flinders Island. Children's court may declare a child found to be neglected, or brought before it `on the application of a parent, guardian or relative of the child or a person of good repute having the care and custody of the child', to be a ward or make a supervision order which requires the child to be under the supervision of a child welfare officer or probation officer. Amended by Child Welfare Act 1963 - deleted the power of a `person of good repute' to apply for a child to be made a ward.
Adoption of Children Act 1968
Consolidated and amended the previous laws relating to adoption. The Registrar-General may no longer exercise the powers of a police magistrate in relation to adoption. Before an adoption order is made a report must be made regarding the proposed adoption by the Department of Social Welfare or an approved private adoption agency. The welfare and interests of the child must be served by the adoption. The only agency approved under this Act was the Catholic Private Adoption Agency. Repealed by Adoption of Children Act 1988.
Child Protection Act 1974
Where it appears to a court that a child under 12 years may have suffered injury as a result of cruel treatment the magistrate may order that the child be taken to a `place of safety' for up to 30 days. Application may be heard ex parte. Where a court is satisfied that the child has also suffered injury through ill treatment the magistrate may declare the child to be a ward of the State.
Adoption of Children Act 1988
Replaced 1968 Act. Includes provisions enabling adult adoptees to obtain information about themselves.