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Timeline of Significant Events and Legislation in the History of Child Welfare in Australia

On this page, you will find links to entries in Find & Connect about some of major events in the history of child welfare in Australia. (NOTE: we are working on timelines for all of the States and Territories).

1820s
Colony of New South Wales passes child welfare legislation, 1826

1860s
Colony of Victoria passes child welfare legislation, 1864

1870s
Crown Colony Western Australia passes Industrial Schools Act, 1874

1890s
Australia’s first adoption legislation passed in Western Australia, 1896

1900s
State Children Act, State of Western Australia, 1907

1910s
World War One, 1914-1918

1920s
The Great Depression, c.1929-1932

1930s
World War Two, 1939-1945

1940s
Commonwealth passes Child Endowment Act, 1941
First post-war child migrants arrive in Australia, 1947

1980s
Senate releases the report: ‘Children in Institutional and Other Forms of Care: a national perspective’, 1985

1990s
‘Bringing them home’ report handed down, 1997
The United Kingdom Parliament commences an inquiry into the welfare of former British child migrants, 1997
Queensland’s ‘Forde Inquiry’ into abuse of children in institutions commences, 1998

2000s
The Senate releases its ‘Lost Innocents’ report into child migration, 2001
Tasmanian Ombudsman begins the ‘Listen to the Children’ review, 2003
The Senate releases its ‘Forgotten Australians’ report, 2004
South Australia’s Mullighan inquiry into children in state care commences, 2004
Redress WA scheme commences, 2008
The Senate releases its ‘Lost Innocents and Forgotten Australians Revisited’ report, 2009
The Australian Parliament apologises to the Stolen Generations, 2008
The Australian Parliament apologises to Forgotten Australians and Former Child Migrants, 2009

2010s
National Apology for Forced Adoptions, 2013
Royal Commission into Child Sexual Abuse announced, 2013