This paper documents Australian inquiries into institutions providing out-of-home care for children between 1852 and 2013. It identifies three categories of inquiries. The first, dating from 1852 through to the post-war period, was concerned with establishing and refining the child welfare system; the second, dating from the 1860s to the 1990s, convened in response to allegations of abuse. The third, dating from the 1990s to today, focuses on hearing survivor testimony. The paper argues that an inability or unwillingness to recognise abuse, and a tendency to individualise the problem where it could not be ignored, may well have served the interests of the government and non-government institutions that provided child welfare services, but did little to protect the children entrusted to the children's 'care'.
This research paper for the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse drew on sources from the Find & Connect web resource.