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Northern Territory - Organisation

Welfare Branch, Northern Territory Administration (1955 - 1970)

Australian Government

Government Agency

The Welfare Branch replaced the Native Affairs Branch in 1953. This occurred as a result of the passing of the Welfare Ordinance 1953 which created the position of Director of Welfare. This legislation also gave the Director responsibility for and power over all children declared as 'wards'. This included both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal children. Prior to the establishment of the Welfare Branch, the State Children's Council was responsible for the welfare of non-Aboriginal children. In 1970 the Northern Territory Administration was re-organised and the Welfare Branch was upgraded to become the Welfare Division.


An office of the Welfare Branch was also located in Adelaide from 1963. This branch was responsible for children from the Northern Territory who were moved interstate into foster or instutional care. This office comprised two welfare officers who resported to the Head Office of the Welfare Branch in Darwin. This branch was sometimes referred to as the Welfare Section or Welfare Office.

Under the Welfare Ordinance which led to the creation of Welfare Branch, the Director of Welfare had specific duties towards all wards . In his role he was expected to take steps

to promote their social, economic and political advancement for the purpose of assisting them and their descendants to take their place as members of the Community of the Commonwealth.

When read in relation to Aboriginal people, this duty reflects the move 'from protection' towards 'assimilation'.

The Welfare Branch through the Director was also responsible for supervising and regulating 'the use and management of institutions'.


 1910 - 1928 Northern Territory Aboriginals Department
       1928 - 1930 Health and Aboriginals Branch, Northern Territory Administration
             1931 - 1939 Medical Services, Health and Aboriginals Branch
                   1930 - 1959 State Children's Council, Northern Territory
                   1939 - 1955 Native Affairs Branch
                         1955 - 1970 Welfare Branch, Northern Territory Administration
                               1970 - 1972 Welfare Division, Northern Territory Administration
                                     1972 - 1990 Department of Aboriginal Affairs, Northern Territory Division
                                           1974 - 1977 Community Welfare Section, Department of the Northern Territory
                                                 1977 Department of Community Services
                                                       1977 - 1978 Department of Community and Social Development
                                                             1978 - 1987 Department of Community Development
                                                                   1987 - 1995 Department of Health and Community Services [I]
                                                                         1995 - 2001 Territory Health Services
                                                                               2001 - 2008 Department of Health and Community Services [II]
                                                                                     2008 - 2010 Department of Health and Families
                                                                                           2011 - Department of Health
                                                                                           2011 - 2016 Department of Children and Families
                                                                                                 2016 - Department of Territory Families, Housing and Communities, Northern Territory Government

Related Organisations


Online Resources

Sources used to compile this entry: Ling, Ted, Commonwealth Government records about the Northern Territory : Research guide, National Archives of Australia, 2011,; National Archives of Australia, 'Agency details: CA 1076 Welfare Branch', in National Archives of Australia, Recordsearch,; National Archives of Australia, 'Agency details: CA 6571 Welfare Branch, Northern Territory Administration, Adelaide', in National Archives of Australia, Recordsearch,

Prepared by: Karen George and Gary George