• Archival Series

Children's Registers

To access these records

Please contact the Library & Archives NT:

Email: ask@lant.nt.gov.au

Darwin Office:

Postal Address: GPO Box 874, Darwin NT 0801

Phone: (08) 8924 7677 or 1800 019 155

Alice Springs Office:

Postal Address: PO Box 8225, Alice Springs NT 0871

Phone: (08) 8951 566

Reference Number

Quote this number to access your records: Northern Territory Archives Service Series ID (NTRS), 3658

Records Location

These records are held by Library & Archives NT (2019 - current).


The series Children’s Registers consists of two large volumes which contain names and details of children placed in the care of the State Children’s Council and its successors. The Registers record background information about children, reasons for placement in care and details about where children were placed.

Access Conditions

Most government records in the Northern Territory are open for research 30 years after the end of the year in which the records were created. Some records, however, are subject to restrictions due to their sensitive or confidential nature. This is the case with many records related to children under the care of the government. Most of these records are restricted for 100 years from the date of their creation.

To apply for access to closed records, you will need to write to the Northern Territory Archives Service. The government agency responsible for the records you wish to access will then consider the granting of access. This is done on a case by case basis. Please contact the Archives for assistance and further information about how to apply for access to closed records. A number of Fact Sheets for researchers are also available on the Archives website.


The two registers record information about children placed in State care, including background details, reasons for placement in care and where children were placed.

The first register (Unit 1) is a large green/brown bound register secured with metal bolts with ‘State Children’s Council N.T. Children’s Register’ printed on the front cover. It covers children taken into care during the years 1951 to 1962 and is divided into three sections.

The first section is titled ‘Alphabetical index State Children, Probation children & Educational’. The first page has a key to acronyms used against the names which are SCC (State Children’s Council), NO (New Ordinance), P (Probation) and E (Education). The New Ordinance refers to the Child Welfare Ordinance 1958 and the fact that the children came into care under that legislation. Children are listed alphabetically by surname in this section. In some cases, names are crossed through and a note written next to them such ‘over 18’ or ‘ceased’.

The second section lists children with a number preceding each name and includes the printed headings: Name, Date of birth, Colour, Charged with, and Remarks. Under Colour, the acronym PC is used for ‘part coloured’ and means Aboriginal. ‘White’ refers to non-Aboriginal children. Under the ‘charged with’ heading, some of the charges listed are: Neglected child, Breaking & entering, Destitute Child or Certificate. Certificate means that the child was committed to the care of the State Children’s Council ‘with the approval of the parents’ and ‘without having gone through court procedure’. Sometimes the Remarks column includes other information about the child such as: Adopted, Died, Vic, NSW (meaning sent to these states) or Over 18. When the ‘over 18’ notation is made, a line is drawn through the entry.

The third section comprises pink pages with the printed title ‘State Children’s Council NT Children’s Register’. Each page relates to an individual child. The child’s Departmental Welfare File number is often written on the top corner of the page. The entries in this part of the register are chronological by court date. The top half of the page includes the headings: Name of Ward, Date and Place of Birth, Name and Address of Parents, Committed Court, Constitution of court, Prosecutor, Informant and Charged with. The bottom half of the page is titled ‘Action taken by Council’. This section varies greatly in detail. It often lists the institution to which the child was first sent and also subsequent moves.

The second register (Unit 2) is a huge metal bound volume with purpose printed pages. It covers children taken into care from 1962 through to the 1990s. This volume includes the following headings: Name (surname and other names), Date and place of birth, Legal action (with four sub headings of Court Date, Charge or Complaint and Decision, Variations of legal order, Due date of discharge), NTA File number and Signature of officer entering details and Date. Many pages include a stamp with ‘CEASED’ and ‘Date’. The date the child ceased to be in State Care is written in. Later on in the volume the page headings above are handwritten on lined paper and the new heading Address is included. This section often provides the name and address of an institution to which the child was sent.

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