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Australia - Concept

Boarding Out (1870s - )

Glossary Term and Type of 'care'

Boarding out was the term used to describe the placement of children and young people in foster care in private homes.


Two South Australians, Catherine Helen Spence and Caroline Emily Clark, were significant figures driving the introduction of boarding out in Australia.

In 1893, Spence reported to the International Congress of Charities, Corrections and Philanthropy on the success of the boarding out movement in Australia. She claimed that the introduction of the boarding out system had emptied Australia's 'barrack-like institutions', with the result that the government only needed to provide a central receiving depot before suitable homes could be found.

Spence's words reflected the belief, underpinning the child rescue movement, that environment was stronger than heredity: 'By getting hold of the children we strike the most effective blow at the hereditary pauper, criminal and lunatic, the curse of modern civilisation'.

Prepared by: Cate O'Neill