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Australian Capital Territory

Legislation / 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 Repealed by Adoption of Children Ordinance 1965 (Cth).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 Repealed by Children's Services Ordinance 1986 (Cth).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 Repealed by Child Welfare Ordinance 1957 (PDF - Cth).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 Repealed by Child Welfare Ordinance 1957 (Cth).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.