This Act was the creation of the president of the State Children's Relief Board, Dr Charles Mackellar and was a significant reform in child welfare. On the one hand, it softened some aspects of child welfare law. It created the sense that children required different legal processes than adults, and more sensitivity and consideration. On the other hand, it made it easier for children and their families to be subject to surveillance by the State Children's Relief Department.
This Act introduced new concepts in child welfare to New South Wales: the Children's Court and the probation system. Children's courts were designed to separate children from adult offenders, and were a place where all matters relevant to children could be heard. This included children's crime, as well as custody, allowances paid for their maintenance, child neglect and truancy. The probation system allowed a child convicted of an offence or of being 'neglected' to be returned to its family, under the supervision of Probation Officers. This was a significant advance in reducing the numbers of children entering institutions, although it did mean some families were scrutinised closely by welfare authorities.
This Act enabled a 'neglected' or 'uncontrollable' child to be brought before a Court, which could order the release of the child on probation, commit the child to an institution until the age of eighteen, or commit it to the care of a willing person (a guardian, foster parent or the State Children's Relief Board. It enabled a child in an institution to be apprenticed in accordance with the Apprentices Act 1901.
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09 November 2021
Cite this: http://www.findandconnect.gov.au/guide/nsw/NE00009
First published by the Find & Connect Web Resource Project for the Commonwealth of Australia, 2011
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