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Tasmania - Organisation

Social Services Department (1934 - 1961)

State of Tasmania

From
1934
To
1961
Categories
Government Department
Alternative Names
  • Social Services and Children of the State Department (Also known as)
  • SSD (Abbreviation)

The Social Services Department replaced the Charitable Grants Department in 1934. It managed outdoor and indoor relief, child welfare services and, between 1934 and 1946, the State Immigration Office. The Social Services Department became the Social Welfare Department in 1961.

Details

The Social Services Department replaced the Charitable Grants Department following an amendment to the Public Service Regulation 4. The Children of the State Department, which had, since 1923 to 1924, been located within Charitable Grants, went with it. In 1935, the Infant Welfare Act made it clear that Children of the State was a part of the Social Services, rather than a Department in its own right. However, as a reflection of its former status, Annual Reports were issued by the Social Services and Children of the State Department until well into the 1940s.

The newly formed State Immigration Office was also located within the Social Services Department. This apparently led to the division, in 1936, of the Department into three branches: Social Services, Children of the State, and the State Immigration Office. In 1946, the Department lost the State Immigration Branch when the government established the Tasmanian Government Tourist and Immigration Department.

The first Director of the Social Services Department was Charles Frederick Seager, formerly the Secretary of the Children of the State Department and Administrator of Charitable Grants. Seager had a long association with welfare work, having been appointed a clerk to the Departments in 1901 when his father, FR Seager, was in charge of them. The younger Seager had lived on the grounds of the New Town Charitable Institution, where the Departments were located, with the rest of his family. In 1911, when the Under-Secretary took over direct management of the Departments and moved them into the Chief Secretary's Offices in Hobart, Charles Seager went too, eventually becoming Chief Clerk. In 1923, Charitable Grants acquired full Departmental status and Seager became the Administrator. In addition, he was Secretary of the Children of the State Department.

The next two Directors stayed for much shorter periods of time. The first, HR Reid, who had also been a Chief Clerk in the Chief Secretary's Department, replaced Seager in 1941. The second, William G Patterson, took over in 1951. His career in the Department had begun as an inspector in 1918. Patterson's successor, in 1955, was Gordon Charles Smith, a New Zealander, whose original appointment was in the position of Superintendent of Child Welfare, which had been created in 1954. He remained Director when, in 1961, the Social Services Department became the Social Welfare Department.

The Department made financial and material assistance, or outdoor relief, available to widows, deserted wives, unemployed men (in exchange for work), and people who were elderly. It also provided indoor relief at the Invalids Home in Launceston, and for a short while, the New Town Rest Home.

It managed the boarding out system, that is, its bureaucrats recruited foster mothers, placed children, and arranged for inspecting nurses to visit foster homes. When children reached school leaving age, Departmental employees found them work, often as farm labourers, if boys, or domestic servants, if girls. Departmental inspectors visited these children. In the later years of the Department, state wards were able to undertake a wider range of work.

Inspecting nurses, employed by the Department, inspected the homes of foster mothers looking after babies under the infant life provisions of the Act. These babies had single mothers who placed them in temporary foster homes so that they could earn a living to support them.

The Department managed the already-existing Ashley Home for Boys and Omaru (in Launceston) and Hobart Receiving Homes. It established and managed the Cottage Home, Malmesbury Girls' Home, Rochebank Hostel, Wybra Hall, and Weeroona Girls' Training Centre as well as Kanangra and Gilburn Receiving Homes.

Between 1934 and 1946, another of the Department's functions was to oversee the nominated passage scheme whereby a family member or friend paid the fare of a British immigrant. In the 1930s, to be eligible, the immigrants had to be farm boys or domestic servants. The scheme came to an end in June 1940 because of World War Two. Four years later, the Department was getting ready for a post war migration boom. In particular, it prepared to deal with the adoption of war orphans and youth migration for Fairbridge and Salvation Army Schools. Children did eventually come to Tasmania under the Fairbridge scheme but not with the Salvation Army.

Following the passage of the Domestic Assistance Service Act, the Social Services Department took over the Domestic Assistance Service in 1947. This service provided a housekeeper or temporary accommodation for children during a family emergency which meant that there was no one to look after them.

In 1954-5, the Social Services Department took over the Juvenile Probation Service from the Attorney-General's Department.

In 2014, the correspondence created by the Department's work, including the case files of state wards, is in the Tasmanian Archive and Heritage Office.

Timeline

 1873 - 1901 Charitable Grants Department
       1896 - 1901 Neglected Children's Department
             1873 - 1901 Charitable Grants Department
             1901 - 1918 Neglected Children's Department
                   1901 - 1934 Charitable Grants Department
                   1918 - 1935 Children of the State Department
                         1934 - 1961 Social Services Department
                               1961 - 1983 Social Welfare Department
                                     1983 - 1989 Department for Community Welfare
                                           1989 - 1993 Department of Community Services
                                                 1993 - 1998 Department of Community and Health Services
                                                       1998 - Department of Health and Human Services

Related Archival Series

Related Concepts

Related Glossary Terms

Related Organisations

Related Places

Publications

Books

  • Wettenhall, RL, A Guide to Tasmanian Government Administration, Platypus Publications, Hobart, 1968, 206 pp. Details

Reports

  • Social Services and Children of the State Department: Report for 1934-5, Social Services and Children of the State Department, Hobart, 1935. Details
  • Social Services and Children of the State Department: Report for the year ended 1943-44, Social Services and Children of the State Department, Hobart, 1944. Details
  • Social Services Department: Report for year ended 1949-50, Social Services Department, Hobart, 1950. Details
  • Social Services Department: report for the year ended 30th June 1960, Social Services Department, Hobart, 1960. Details
  • Social Services Department: report for the year ended 30 June 1961, Department of Social Services, Hobart, 1961. Details
  • Social Services Department: report for the year ended 30 June 1963, Department of Social Services, Hobart, 1963. Details
  • Ombudsman Tasmania, Listen to the children: Review of claims of abuse from adults in state care as children, Office of the Ombudsman, Tasmania, Hobart, November 2004. p.59. Details

Online Resources

Sources used to compile this entry: 'New chief of Child Welfare appointed', The Mercury, 16 July 1954, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article27219228; Ombudsman Tasmania, Listen to the children: Review of claims of abuse from adults in state care as children, Office of the Ombudsman, Tasmania, Hobart, November 2004. p.59.; Wettenhall, RL, A Guide to Tasmanian Government Administration, Platypus Publications, Hobart, 1968, 206 pp.

Prepared by: Caroline Evans