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South Australia - Glossary Term

Uncontrollable (c. 1895 - )

c. 1895
Term commonly found on child welfare records

The term uncontrollable first appeared as one of the definitions of a Neglected Child in the State Children Act 1895. It was removed from this definition in the Maintenance Act 1926 but remained in the text of the legislation. Children deemed by parents or departmental staff could be charged as uncontrollable and taken into the custody and control of the State. Uncontrollable was replaced by the term uncontrolled child in the Maintenance Act Amendment Act of 1941.


The term 'uncontrollable' first appeared in the State Children Act 1895 under the definition of Neglected Child. The legislation allowed for a parent to bring a child before justices 'as an uncontrollable or incorrigible child'. This could lead to the child being taken under the care of the State and placed in an institution.

The term was removed from the definition of Neglected Child in the Maintenance Act 1926 but was still used within the text of the Act. The Maintenance Act continued to allow for parents or officers of the Children's Welfare and Public Relief Board to bring children before a court and charge them as being 'uncontrollable'. Under Section 103 of the Act, children charged in this way could be placed 'under the custody and control of the Board' until they turned 18. They could be placed in an institution or on probation with their parents or sent to a Probationary School for up to three months.

In the Maintenance Act Amendment Act of 1941 the term 'uncontrolled child' was added to the definition for Neglected Child and this term generally replaced 'uncontrollable'.

Prepared by: Karen George and Gary George