The Victorian Government records relating to wardship and adoption date from 1864 to the present. These records were created by the state government departments that were responsible for child welfare in Victoria. Some of these records are held at the Department of Human Services (DHS), and some are held at Public Record Office Victoria (PROV). Generally, records less than 99 years old are not open to the general public because of the personal and private information they contain. If the records are about you, or members of your family, you have a right to access these records.
For a variety of reasons that may be to do with protecting privacy, cultural sensitivities, etc. some records can only be accessed by certain people or groups for a defined period. Records less than 99 years old that relate to children in 'care' can be accessed by former wards and adoptees, but they are not open to the general public because of the personal and private information they contain. The State Government calls these 'closed' records.
Access to government records relating to wardship and adoption is controlled by a system that can be hard to understand and navigate. However, there are services like the Family Information Networks and Discovery (FIND) in the Department of Human Services that help former wards access government records. Former state wards wanting to find information about their time in care, or access personal files can contact FIND directly. If you do not want to approach the Department yourself, someone else (like a worker from a support service) can apply to FIND on your behalf.
After 99 years, government records relating to children in the 'care' of the state are opened to the public. This means that anyone is able to access them. Generally speaking 'open' records can be accessed directly at the Victorian Archives Centre, Public Record Office Victoria.
Contact the Department of Human Services, State Government of Victoria - The Duty Worker, Family Information Networks and Discovery;
Phone: (03) 8608 5700 or 1300 769 926 (for the cost of a local call)