Some people may find content on this website distressing. Read more
New South Wales - Organisation

Child Welfare Department (1923 - 1970)

  • New Parents for Nobody's Child

    New Parents for "Nobody's Child", 7 August 1939
    Details

State Government of New South Wales

From
1923
To
1970
Categories
Adoption Agency, Care Provider, Foster Care and Government Department
Alternative Names
  • CWD

The Child Welfare Department was created in 1923, when the Child Welfare Act was introduced. Although it continued the work of the State Children's Relief Department, it was supervised by the Minister for Public Instruction, rather than the State Children's Relief Board, and was part of the Department of Public Instruction. The Child Welfare Department took over industrial schools and reformatories, as well as maintaining its supervision of boarded out children and apprentices. As the Child Welfare Act introduced legal adoption, the Child Welfare Department regulated and recorded adoptions. It was renamed the Department of Child Welfare and Social Welfare in 1970.

Details

The Child Welfare Department lasted for nearly fifty years. Throughout that period boarding out, or fostering, remained the main focus of the Department's work, but more varied systems were put in place and the numbers of institutions increased.

When the Department was created in 1923 it assumed responsibility for institutions that had been used for reformatory purposes, such as Gosford Farm Home and Parramatta Industrial School for Girls. During the 1930s and the 1940s a series of inquiries into these homes found they had been poorly administered, that punishments were not recorded properly, and that children were being mistreated. These reports resulted in some improvements, and argued children were in a sensitive developmental phase, and could benefit from guidance. Importantly, the idea that families could be supported to keep their children and that removal was a last resort began to take hold.

From the 1940s the probation system that had been in use since 1905 changed into the idea of 'child guidance', and child guidance clinics were introduced to children's courts, institutions and, in some cases, schools. At the same time the Child Welfare Department began to develop a staff of trained social workers. While children continued to be removed, and many families found social workers overbearing, and Aboriginal families struggled to be recognised by the Department, it was beginning to develop a broader approach to social problems.

In 1952 the Director of the Child Welfare Department promoted the Department in The Australian Women's Weekly:

To rehabilitate the family is the first objective of the department … If we can get the home going properly again, then the children are returned to their parents. The best way for a child to grow up is with its own family.

First, our trained social workers do everything they can to help the family, especially if the home is suffering through the ill-health of the mother or the desertion of one of the parents.

Hicks told the Women's Weekly that of the 1700 children who came to the Department's attention in the previous year, 13% had been removed. When that occurred:

The children are taken to special State Homes, where they are medically examined before being sent to homes with other State wards.

"Because one of the most important influences in a child's upbringing is the spiritual and moral influence of good family life, we try to get foster parents for each child," said Mr Hicks. "In many cases the child may remain with the foster parents for the rest of his childhood. In some cases the parents improve their conditions and have the child returned to them," he added.

Hicks gave no statistics as to the numbers of children in foster care compared with institutions, but as so many former foster children report multiple placements and being moved from institution to institution, it seems Mr Hicks was painting a rosy picture of his Department's practices. From the 1950s onwards the Department also developed a range of institutions that were designed to provide specialised care to certain categories of children. Often children were placed in them because foster care did not work out or could not be found.

During the 1950s increasing numbers of Aboriginal children were taken into the Child Welfare Department, and its institutions. After 1969, when the Aborigines Protection Board was abolished, the Child Welfare Department assumed responsibility for all Aboriginal children in New South Wales, and for the Aboriginal institutions at Cootamundra and Kinchela.

From the late 1950s the Child Welfare Department was an enthusiastic participant in promoting adoption as an alternative to foster care or institutions, and it and its social workers arranged adoptions. It was also closely associated with forced adoptions.

Timeline

 1881 - 1923 State Children's Relief Board
       1923 - 1970 Child Welfare Department
             1970 - 1973 Department of Child Welfare and Social Welfare
                   1973 - 1975 Department of Youth and Community Services
                         1975 - 1976 Department of Youth, Ethnic and Community Affairs
                               1976 - 1988 Department of Youth and Community Services
                                     1988 - 1991 Department of Family and Community Services
                                           1991 - 1992 Department of Health and Community Services
                                                 1992 - 2009 Department of Community Services
                                                       2009 - 2011 Department of Human Services
                                                             2011 - Department of Family and Community Services

Provided 'Care' At

Related Glossary Terms

Related Organisations

Publications

Books

  • Department of Child Welfare and Social Welfare, Child Welfare in New South Wales, Child Welfare Department, Sydney, c 1962. Details
  • Djuric, Bonney, Abandon All Hope: a history of Parramatta Industrial School, Chargan, Georges Terrace, 2008, 238 pp. Details
  • Hill, David, The Forgotten Children: Fairbridge Farm School and its betrayal of Australia's child migrants, Random House, North Sydney, 2007, 338 pp. Details
  • Ludlow, Christa, 'For their own good' : a history of the Albion Street Children's Court and Boys' Shelter, Network of Community Activities, Surry Hills, 1994, 47 pp. Details
  • McLean, Donald, Children In Need: An account of the administration and functions of the Child Welfare Department, New South Wales, Australia: with an examination of the principles involved in helping deprived and wayward children, Government Printer, Sydney, 1955, 173 pp. Details
  • NSW Public Service Board, Building costs: interim report (Child welfare buildings), NSW Treasury, April 1978. Details

Journals

Newspaper Articles

Reports

  • Report of the Minister of Public Instruction on the work of the Child Welfare Department, Department of Education, Sydney, 1921-1931; 1935/36-1954/55. Details
  • Child Welfare Department, Annual Report: Child Welfare Department of New South Wales, 1955/1956-1969/1970. Details
  • McCulloch, J.E., Child Welfare Department : report on the general organisation, control and administration of, with special reference to state welfare institutions, Alfred James Kent, Government Printer, Sydney, 1934, 142 pp. Details

Resources

  • Barnet, Les: Whitchurch, Peter, Towards a Clearer Sky, 1 film reel (13 min.) : sd., col. ; 16 mm. A copy of this film is at the State Library of New South Wales., New South Wales Department of Child Welfare and Social Welfare, 1959. Details
  • Barnet, Les; Whitchurch, P, Rehabilitation methods used at St. Heliers Training School for Boys near Muswellbrook, N.S.W., 1 film reel, 9 minutes, colour, 16mm. A copy of this film is at the State Library of New South Wales., New South Wales Department of Child Welfare and Social Welfare, 1959. Details
  • Keen, A, The Long Climb, 1 film reel (30 min.) : sd., bw. ; 16 mm. A copy of this film is at the State Library of New South Wales., New South Wales Department of Child Welfare and Social Welfare, 1970. Details

Resource Sections

Online Resources

Photos

New Parents for
Title
New Parents for "Nobody's Child"
Type
Image
Date
7 August 1939

Details

Children who need foster parents' love: State gives everything except true family life
Title
Children who need foster parents' love: State gives everything except true family life
Type
Newspaper Article
Date
28 May 1952

Details

Future Citizens -
Title
Future Citizens - "Thornbury Lodge"
Type
Image
Date
c. 1958

Details

Bidura Receiving Home
Title
Bidura Receiving Home
Type
Image
Date
c. 1959

Details

School building at Bidura
Title
School building at Bidura
Type
Image
Date
c. 1959

Details

Brush Farm Home
Title
Brush Farm Home
Type
Image
Date
c. 1959

Details

In the classroom at Brougham
Title
In the classroom at Brougham
Type
Image
Date
c. 1960

Details

Brougham boys out on a picnic
Title
Brougham boys out on a picnic
Type
Image
Date
c. 1960

Details

Lessons in the sun at Bidura School
Title
Lessons in the sun at Bidura School
Type
Image
Date
c. 1963

Details

The new school buildings at Anglewood Special School
Title
The new school buildings at Anglewood Special School
Type
Image
Date
1964

Details

In class at Brougham
Title
In class at Brougham
Type
Image
Date
c. 1964

Details

The
Title
The "old" home, Brush Farm - one of Sydney's historic buildings, it is now unsuitable as a children's home but is to be retained for administrative and other purposes [original caption]
Type
Image
Date
c. 1965

Details

The main buildings at Berry Training Farm with boys returning from school
Title
The main buildings at Berry Training Farm with boys returning from school
Type
Image
Date
c. 1965

Details

The school library at Berry Training Farm
Title
The school library at Berry Training Farm
Type
Image
Date
c. 1965

Details

Anglewood Special School - new administrative block in foreground. Yean Cottage in background.
Title
Anglewood Special School - new administrative block in foreground. Yean Cottage in background.
Type
Image
Date
c. 1965

Details

One of the new dormitories at Brush Farm
Title
One of the new dormitories at Brush Farm
Type
Image
Date
c. 1966

Details

Brush Farm girls have morning fruit in the internal courtyard of a new cottage
Title
Brush Farm girls have morning fruit in the internal courtyard of a new cottage
Type
Image
Date
c. 1968

Details

House parents and girls in a Brush Farm Dormitory
Title
House parents and girls in a Brush Farm Dormitory
Type
Image
Date
c. 1968

Details

The Dining Room - Bidura
Title
The Dining Room - Bidura
Type
Image
Date
c. 1968

Details

The radio and television repair and maintenance workshop. Yawarra is the first of its training schools to provide instruction in this trade
Title
The radio and television repair and maintenance workshop. Yawarra is the first of its training schools to provide instruction in this trade
Type
Image
Date
c. 1969

Details

Yawarra was the first of the Boys' Training Schools to be equipped with a swimming pool at the time it was opened
Title
Yawarra was the first of the Boys' Training Schools to be equipped with a swimming pool at the time it was opened
Type
Image
Date
c. 1969

Details

The high staff-inmate ratio at Brush Farm Infants Home enables close attention to be given to the developmental needs of each child [original caption]
Title
The high staff-inmate ratio at Brush Farm Infants Home enables close attention to be given to the developmental needs of each child [original caption]
Type
Image
Date
c. 1970

Details

Intellectually handicapped girls at Brush Farm make good use of a swimming pool provided with the assistance of Eastwood Rotary Club and the manufacturer [original caption]
Title
Intellectually handicapped girls at Brush Farm make good use of a swimming pool provided with the assistance of Eastwood Rotary Club and the manufacturer [original caption]
Type
Image
Date
c. 1970

Details

Sources used to compile this entry: Report of the Minister of Public Instruction on the work of the Child Welfare Department, Department of Education, Sydney, 1921-1931; 1935/36-1954/55; Child Welfare Department, Annual Report: Child Welfare Department of New South Wales, 1955/1956-1969/1970; Ludlow, Christa, 'For their own good' : a history of the Albion Street Children's Court and Boys' Shelter, Network of Community Activities, Surry Hills, 1994, 47 pp; McCulloch, J.E., Child Welfare Department : report on the general organisation, control and administration of, with special reference to state welfare institutions, Alfred James Kent, Government Printer, Sydney, 1934, 142 pp; McLean, Donald, Children In Need: An account of the administration and functions of the Child Welfare Department, New South Wales, Australia: with an examination of the principles involved in helping deprived and wayward children, Government Printer, Sydney, 1955, 173 pp; Parry, Naomi, 'Such a longing': black and white children in welfare in New South Wales and Tasmania, 1880-1940, Department of History, University of New South Wales, 2007, 361 pp, http://unsworks.unsw.edu.au/fapi/datastream/unsworks:1369/SOURCE01?view=true; Patrick, Sheila, 'Children who need foster parents: State gives everything except true family life', The Australian Women's Weekly, 28 May 1952, http://trove.nla.gov.au/ndp/del/article/46228664; Quinn, Peter E, Unenlightened efficiency: the administration of the juvenile correction system in New South Wales 1905-1988, University of Sydney, History, 27 March 2006, http://hdl.handle.net/2123/623.

Prepared by: Naomi Parry