Legislation / Key Provisions
Neglected and Criminal Children's Act 1864
Established and regulated industrial and reformatory schools for 'neglected' children. Police may apprehend a child suspected of being neglected who must be brought immediately before two or more Justices. Justices may order child to be put out to service on conditions or detained in an industrial school for between one and seven years. Parents liable to contribute to support of inmates of schools. Amended by Neglected and Criminal Children's Amendment Act 1874 - children under 6 years may be detained in an industrial school; 'immoral or depraved' child may be sent to a reformatory school; neglected children may be detained up to the age of 16 years; child may be boarded out or apprenticed. Neglected and Criminal Children's Amendment Act 1878 - neglected children may be transferred from industrial to reformatory schools; a child may be detained until the age of 18 years. Repealed by Juvenile Offenders Act 1887.
Neglected Children's Act 1887
Maintained general provisions of 1864 Act regarding apprehension and committal of neglected children. Introduced system of guardianship for children committed to care on ground of neglect. Repealed by Neglected Children's Act 1890.
Neglected Children's Act 1890
Consolidation of 1887 Act.
Infant Life Protection Act 1890
Established a system of regulation of non-parental carers of young children. Repealed by Infant Life Protection Act 1915.
Children's Court Act 1906
Created a separate court system to deal with children under the age of 17 years charged with neglect. Repealed by Neglected Children's Act 1915.
Neglected Children's Act 1915
Consolidation of 1890 Act. Repealed by Child Welfare Act 1928.
Infant Life Protection Act 1915
- Pages 1-12 (PDF - 1,344 KB)
- Pages 12-23 (PDF - 1,226 KB)
- Infant Life Protection Act 1915 (PDF - 1,131 KB)
Consolidation of 1890 Act. Repealed by Child Welfare Act 1928.
Children's Maintenance Act 1919
Prior to this Act mothers in this position would have to arrange for a court to declare their children to be 'neglected' and committed to the care of the Department. The Department would then 'board them back' with their mothers who would receive the boarding out allowance from the Department. Repealed by Children's Welfare Act 1928.
Children's Welfare Act 1928
Consolidation. Repealed by Children's Welfare Act 1954.
Adoption of Children Act 1928
Provided for legal adoption of children in Victoria for the first time. Repealed by Adoption of Children Act 1958.
Children's Welfare Amendment Act 1933
Definition of neglected altered to include a child living under conditions that means he/she is likely to lapse into a career of vice or crime; the child's guardian is unfit by reason of his conduct or habits, or (if female) is soliciting or behaving in an indecent manner; a child wandering about the streets at night without lawful cause after a member of the police force has warned the child to cease; or a child engaged in street trading'. Repealed by Children's Welfare Act 1954.
Children's Welfare Act 1954
Introduced a system of regulation for non-government children's institutions. Children's Court to determines whether a child or young person is in need of care. Police can arrest without warrant any child or young person suspected of being in need of care and bring the child before a Children's Court to be committed to the care of the department. Director can make a range of placements including institutions, private homes, employment or service etc. Non-government children's institutions must be registered with the department and are known as 'approved children's homes'. An agency may apply for a child in its custody to be admitted to State guardianship once agreed maintenance contributions fall into 6 months arrears. Repealed by Children's Welfare Act 1958.
After Aborigines Act 1957, the Board had no specific power in relation to Aboriginal children. Aboriginal children were removed under the Child Welfare Act 1954 and subsequent child welfare legislation.
Social Welfare Act 1960
- Pages 1-12 (PDF - 942 KB)
- Pages 13-24 (PDF - 998 KB)
- Pages 25-36 (PDF - 867 KB)
- Pages 37-4 (PDF - 822 KB)7
The 'welfare of the child shall be the first and paramount consideration' in placing a child. Repealed by Social Welfare Act 1970.
Adoption of Children Act 1964
Replaced 1928 Act. Established a stricter procedure for selecting adoptive parents. Amended by Adoption of Children (Information) Act 1980 - Relates to access to records of public and private adoption agencies. Repealed by Adoption Act 1984.
Social Welfare Act 1970 [also known as Community Welfare Services Act 1970 and Community Services Act 1970].
- Pages 1-12 (PDF - 979 KB)
- Pages 13-24 (PDF - 1,021 KB)
- Pages 25-36 (PDF - 1,003 KB)
- Pages 37-48 (PDF - 977 KB)
- Pages 49-60 (PDF - 955 KB)
- Pages 61-71 (PDF - 1,054 KB)
- Pages 72-82 (PDF - 946 KB)
Consolidation of Children's Welfare Act 1958, Social Welfare Act 1960 and amendments. Amended by Community Welfare Services (Amendment) Act 1979 - minor changes to definition of 'child in need of care' includes emotional abuse and being ill-treated, exposed or neglected. Not repealed but substantially amended by Children and Young Persons Act 1989.
Adoption Act 1984
- Pages 1-10 (PDF - 689 KB)
- Pages 11-21 (PDF - 770 KB)
- Pages 22-30 (PDF - 780 KB)
- Pages 31-40 (PDF - 761 KB)
- Pages 41-49 (PDF - 697 KB)
- Pages 50-60 (PDF - 809 KB)
- Pages 61-70 (PDF - 750 KB)
Introduced Aboriginal Child Placement Principle. Placement of an Aboriginal child must be in accordance with the Principle. Consent to adoption may only be dispensed with in special cases such as where child has been seriously and persistently ill-treated.
Children (Guardianship & Custody) Act 1984
Concerns duties of guardians and disputes between them. Gives effect to the Family Law Act 1975 (Cth). Court shall not make a guardianship or custody order with respect to an Aboriginal child unless a report has been received from an Aboriginal Agency. Repealed by Children and Young Persons Act 1989.
Children and Young Persons Act 1989
- Pages 1-15 (PDF - 862 KB)
- Pages 16-30 (PDF - 1,052 KB)
- Pages 31-45 (PDF - 1,043 KB)
- Pages 46-60 (PDF - 1,074 KB)
- Pages 61-75 (PDF - 1,061 KB)
- Pages 76-90 (PDF - 1,070 KB)
- Pages 91-105 (PDF - 1,054 KB)
- Pages 106-120 (PDF - 1,086 KB)
- Pages 121-135 (PDF - 1,082 KB)
- Pages 136-150 (PDF - 1,113 KB)
- Pages 151-165 (PDF - 1,038 KB)
- Pages 166-178 (PDF - 1,043 KB)
Includes Aboriginal Child Placement Principle. Sets out procedures for removing a child 'in need of protection'.
- Aboriginal Protection Act 1869 (HTML)
- Aborigines Protection Act 1886 (HTML)
- Aborigines Act 1910 (HTML)
The Aboriginal Protection Act 1869 was the first colonial law to establish a comprehensive system of control over the lives of Aboriginal people. The Aboriginal Protection Act 1886, known as the ‘half-caste’ Act, commenced a policy of forcibly removing Aboriginal people of mixed descent from Aboriginal stations and reserves in Victoria. This inhumane policy of separating families created widespread distress and dislocation, and led to the Aborigines Act 1910 which reversed some of these policies. For more information, click here
The Victorian government agencies responsible over time were:
- Chief Protector of Aborigines 1838–1849 (HTML)
- Guardian of Aborigines 1849–1860 (HTML)
- Central Board Appointed to Watch Over the Interests of Aborigines 1860–1869 (HTML)
- Board for the Protection of Aborigines 1869–1957 (HTML)
- Aborigines Welfare Board 1957-1968 (HTML)
These agencies kept detailed records which are held at the Public Record Office of Victoria (PROV) who have produced a guide to their holdings (HTML).
The policies and practices of these agencies controlled nearly all parts of Aboriginal people’s lives in Victoria, from the removal of children, rations, access to health, education, employment and housing of Aboriginal people on stations and reserves.
Annual reports were published from 1860 onwards, but the Board for the Protection of Aborigines failed to report with gaps from 1912-1922 and 1926 until 1957, when the Aborigines Welfare Board came into existence.
Central Board appointed to watch over the interests of the Aborigines in the Colony of Victoria:
- 1861 - 1st Report (PDF - 2059 KB)
- 1862 - 2nd Report (PDF - 2021 KB)
- 1864 - 3rd Report (PDF - 1857 KB)
- 1864 - 4th Report (PDF - 1437 KB)
- Appendices (PDF - 1030 KB)
- 1866 - 5th Report (PDF - 1986 KB)
- Appendices (PDF - 763 KB)
- 1869 - 6th Report (PDF - 738 KB)
- Appendix 1 (PDF - 1100 KB)
- Appendix 2-3 (PDF - 1474 KB)
- Appendix 4-7 (PDF - 1733 KB)
The Board for the Protection of the Aborigines in the Colony of Victoria :
- 1871 - 7th Report (PDF - 1794 KB)
- Appendices 5-10 (PDF - 1167 KB)
- 1872 - 8th Report (PDF - 1922 KB)
- 1873 - 9th Report (PDF - 1996 KB)
- 1874 - 10th Report (PDF - 1914 KB)
- 1875 - 11th Report (PDF - 1847 KB)
- 1876 - 12th Report (PDF - 1069 KB)
- Appendices 6-23 (PDF - 1528 KB)
- 1877 - 13th Report (PDF - 1127 KB)
- 1878 - 14th Report (PDF - 1757 KB)
- 1879 - 15th Report (PDF - 1847 KB)
- 1880 - 16th Report (PDF - 1685 KB)
- 1881 - 17th Report (PDF - 1626 KB)
- 1882 - 18th Report (PDF - 1686 KB)
- 1883 - 19th Report (PDF - 1930 KB)
- 1885 - 21st Report (PDF - 1838 KB)
- 1886 - 22nd Report (PDF - 1971 KB)
- 1887 - 23rd Report (PDF - 389 KB)
- Appendices 1-14 (PDF - 1274 KB)
- Appendices 15-21 (PDF - 1685 KB)
- 1888 - 24th Report (PDF - 1110 KB)
- 1889 - 25th Report (PDF - 923 KB)
- 1890 - 26th Report (PDF - 1660 KB)
- 1891 - 27th Report (PDF - 937 KB)
- 1892 - 28th Report (PDF - 722 KB)
- 1893 - 29th Report (PDF - 623 KB)
- 1894 - 30th Report (PDF - 618 KB)
- 1895 - 31st Report (PDF - 789 KB)
- 1896 - 32nd Report (PDF - 561 KB)
- 1897 - 33rd Report (PDF - 597 KB)
- 1898 - 34th Report (PDF - 593 KB)
- 1899 - 35th Report (PDF - 1466 KB)
- 1900 - 36th Report (PDF - 572 KB)
- 1901 - 37th Report (PDF - 673 KB)
- 1902 - 38th Report (PDF - 943 KB)
- 1903 - 39th Report (PDF - 738 KB)
- 1904 - 40th Report (PDF - 707 KB)
- 1905 - 41st Report (PDF - 1077 KB)
- 1906 - 42nd Report (PDF - 724 KB)
- 1907 - 43rd Report (PDF - 765 KB)
- 1909 - 44th Report (PDF - 699 KB)
- 1910 - 45th Report (PDF - 729 KB)
- 1910 - 46th Report (PDF - 735 KB)
- 1911 - 47th Report (PDF - 734 KB)
- 1912 - 48th Report (PDF - 676 KB)
- 1922 - 49th Report (PDF - 453 KB)
- 1925 - 51st Report (PDF - 431 KB)
1956-57 - Report upon the operation of the Aborigines Act 1928 and the Regulations and orders made thereunder
Report of the Aborigines Welfare Board for the year ended 30th June:
Victoria: Reports from Royal Commissions, Committees and Boards of Enquiry
- 1858-59 - Report of the Select Committee of the Legislative Council on the Aborigines; together with the proceedings of Committee, Minutes of Evidence, and Appendices (PDF - 19,950 KB)
- 1877 – Royal Commission on the Aborigines. Report of the Commissioners appointed to inquire into the present condition of the Aborigines of this colony… (PDF - 18,598 KB)
- 1882 – Coranderrk Aboriginal Station. Remarks of the board for the Protection of the Aborigines on the report of the board appointed to enquire into and report upon the condition and management of the Coranderrk Aboriginal Station (PDF - 548 KB)
- 1956-57 – Report upon the operation of the Aborigines Act 1928 and the regulations and orders made there under (PDF - 2,499 KB)