This paper explains the many different types of institutions offering out-of-home care for children in Australia from 1788 until the deinstitutionalisation movement of the 1980s. It documents the move from generic to specialist children's institutions, the mix between government and non-government provision - which differed both between institutions and the jurisdictions in which they were based - and the differences between provisions for Indigenous and non-Indigenous children. The paper concludes that the complexity of child welfare provision weakened lines of responsibility, creating a space in which children were both powerless and at risk as they navigated their way into adulthood. Placed where beds were available, moved when institutional efficiency demanded, cut off from kin whom authorities judged as neglectful, they were all too often left with no-one to whom they could turn for care and support.
This research paper for the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse drew on sources from the Find & Connect web resource.