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Legislation Industrial Schools Act 1874
Crown Colony Western Australia
- Reference No
- 1874 (38 Vict. No. 11)
The 'Industrial Schools Act 1874' was the first comprehensive attempt at child welfare legislation in Western Australia. The purpose of the Act was to provide for and educate 'orphan and necessitous children, or children or descendants of the Aboriginal race' but it also prescribed the way young offenders would be treated. It was based on the principle that these children (to age 21) would have a better chance at life if they were subject to the guardianship and discipline of the managers of charitable institutions. The Act served double duty as a means to care for children identified as needy, and a gaol to punish young offenders. These separate functions led to the amended 'Industrial and Reformatory Schools Act 1893'. Both Acts were repealed by the 'State Children's Act 1907'.
The 'Industrial Schools Act 1874' defined an 'infant' to mean an 'infant, child or person' (s.19) and 'certified' institutions to receive, provide for and educate them (s.2). By modern standards, the Act is harsh and punitive but at the time it was an attempt to regulate the treatment of children and young people, particularly those who seemed to be neglected or abandoned by family, and 'juvenile offenders' who at that time were sent to adult prisons. It represents the tension between a belief that children should not be a burden on the public or charitable purse if they had parents to look after them, and a belief that many parents were not fit to bring up their children in respectable circumstances.
It formalised and entrenched the power of the managers of charitable institutions, making them guardians of the children in their institution (s.5) for as long as they felt necessary (ss.7, 8). This could make it difficult for parents who had voluntarily sent their child to an institution to claim them back, but in practice most children were returned if parents were insistent. The Act (s.6) allowed managers of industrial schools to apprentice any child 'either to some trade or as agricultural or domestic servants or to the sea service' as they saw fit providing the child was over 12 years old.
'Youthful offenders' were to be sent to an institution regulated under this Act (s.9) which ideally would be 'as far as possible' of the same 'religious persuasion to which such offender appears to belong' (s.10). The Act provided a mechanism whereby young people could be transferred from adult gaols into an industrial school (s.12), between institutions, or into the hands of a 'trustworthy and respectable person' (s.13) under a license issued by the Colonial Secretary. This time out of the original institution under license would be counted as part of the sentence (s.14).
If a young person 'escaped' from an institution, or from the person with whom they were placed under license, they were 'deemed to be guilty of an escape from lawful custody on a criminal charge' (s.15) and anyone who helped or harboured them was likewise guilty (s.16).
The 'Industrial Schools Act' (s.18) also made it 'a duty' for any Justice of the Peace in any district 'make inquiry' about any 'native' or 'crossbreed' child who was 'apparently under the age of twelve years' and who was 'not living under the care or guardianship of either father or mother'. If the inquiry led the Magistrate to have any concerns, the Act made it lawful for him to 'assume the guardianship' of that child.
The Act (s.20) also required managers of scheduled institutions to present a report of activities to the Colonial Secretary so that the report could be tabled at the Legislative Council, as a record of how public monies had been spent.
1874 Industrial Schools Act 1874
1877 Industrial Schools Act 1874 Amendment Act 1877
1886 Aborigines Protection Act 1886
1882 Industrial Schools Act Amendment Act 1882
1889 Aborigines Act 1889
1905 Aborigines Act 1905
1893 Industrial and Reformatory Schools Act 1893
1905 Aborigines Act 1905
1963 Native Welfare Act 1963
1907 State Children Act 1907
1972 Aboriginal Affairs Planning Authority Act 1972
1919 State Children Act Amendment Act 1919
1927 State Children Act Amendment Act 1927
1942 Child Welfare Act Amendment Act 1941
1947 Child Welfare Act 1947
1952 Child Welfare Act Amendment Act 1952
- Hetherington, Penelope, Paupers, Poor Relief and Poor Housing in Western Australia 1829 to 1910, UWA Publishiing, Crawley, Western Australia, 2009. pp.98-100. Details
- Industrial Schools Act 1874 (WA), 6 August 1874. Also available at http://www.slp.wa.gov.au/legislation/statutes.nsf/main_mrtitle_10526_homepage.html. Details
- 'Legislative Council [Industrial Schools Act 1874]', The Western Australian Times, 7 August 1874, p. 4, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article2973052. Details
- To Remove and Protect: Aboriginal Lives Under Control [website], 2010, http://www.aiatsis.gov.au/collections/exhibitions/remove/index.html. Details
- AustLII [website], 2011, http://www.austlii.edu.au. Details
- Department for Community Development, State of Western Australia, 'Submission No. 55 Inquiry into Children in Institutional Care: Submissions', in Inquiry into Children in Institutional Care - Submissions received by the committee as at 17/3/05, Senate Community Affairs Committee, Commonwealth of Australia, July 2003, http://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Committees/Senate_Committees?url=clac_ctte/completed_inquiries/2004-07/inst_care/submissions/sublist.htm. Details
- Tilbrook, Lois, Nyungar Tradition : glimpses of Aborigines of south-western Australia 1829-1914, Online version published by the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies in 2007, University of Western Australia Press, 1983, http://archive.aiatsis.gov.au/terms5.html?http://archive.aiatsis.gov.au/m0022954.pdf. Details
- State Law Publisher: Official Publisher of Western Australian Legislation and Statutory Information, 1997, http://www.slp.wa.gov.au. Details
- Industrial Schools Act 1874 (WA)
- 1874 (38 Vict. No. 11)
- State Law Publisher of Western Australia
Sources used to compile this entry: To Remove and Protect: Aboriginal Lives Under Control [website], 2010, http://www.aiatsis.gov.au/collections/exhibitions/remove/index.html; Hetherington, Penelope, Paupers, Poor Relief and Poor Housing in Western Australia 1829 to 1910, UWA Publishiing, Crawley, Western Australia, 2009. pp.98-100.; Industrial Schools Act 1874 (WA) [Document]; Tilbrook, Lois, Nyungar Tradition : glimpses of Aborigines of south-western Australia 1829-1914, Online version published by the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies in 2007, University of Western Australia Press, 1983, http://archive.aiatsis.gov.au/terms5.html?http://archive.aiatsis.gov.au/m0022954.pdf.
Prepared by: Debra Rosser
Created: 28 June 2011, Last modified: 22 March 2013