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Victoria - Organisation

Department of Community Welfare Services (1978 - 1985)

  • The Community Welfare Services Act 1978

    The Community Welfare Services Act 1978

State Government of Victoria

Care Provider and Government Department
Alternative Names
  • DCWS (Acronym)

The Department of Community Welfare Services, State Government of Victoria, came into being in 1978. Formerly, it was known as the Social Welfare Department. In 1983, the Department of Community Welfare Services comprised the Family and Adolescent Services Division, the Youth Services Section, the Adoption Section, Residential Child Care and the Regional Services Division. In 1985, the Department was replaced by the new body, Community Services Victoria.


The Family and Adolescent Services Division was responsible for the management of reception centres and youth training centres in Victoria.

The Residential Child Care section was responsible for the 'care' of wards (about 80% of children and young people) as well as non-wards (who were placed in non-government 'care' by parents or guardians).

The Youth Services Section was concerned with preventative care for 'at risk youth'. It ran hostels for young people located in Sunshine, Ivanhoe and Thornbury. It also subsidised hostels run by the non-government sector. The Section ran Youth Welfare Services at Ascot Vale, Brunswick, Hawthorn and Windsor.

The management of foster care was transferred to the Regional Services Division in 1976. The Department had a policy of regionally based foster care programs, so that children in foster care could be placed in their local community and maintain links with family and friends.

In 1983, some significant changes were made to the Department and its policies. An annual review of wardship was introduced in February 1983. The first year of this new policy was seen by the Department as a success, evident from the reducing number of wards and an increased emphasis on returning wards to their families, or to independent living, as soon as appropriate.

In 1983, the Victorian government established a separate Office of Corrections. This led to a restructure within the Department of Community Welfare Services. From May 1983, there was a new Protective and Substitute Care Branch within the Department. The broad aims of the Branch were 'to provide a wide range of services to give care and protection to children and young people at risk of abuse, neglect or exploitation - and to provide care and control of young offenders'.

This branch was responsible for foster care, provided by the Department and 25 non-government agencies. It also organised adoptions, together with eight approved adoption agencies. Its residential care was largely provided in family group homes, comprising 4 or 5 children.

In September 1983 the Child Welfare Practice and Legislation Review released its Discussion Paper, which was endorsed by the Department of Community Welfare Services.

The annual report for 1983/84 reported the closure of 15 services in Victoria, as a result of the Department's 'planned progressive redevelopment of facilities … with the aim of developing services to meet current local demands at accepted community standards'. Illoura Children's Home (run by the Department) closed in 1983. Fourteen family group homes and campus units run by non-government agencies were closed that year, with funds reallocated to new facilities.


 1864 - 1887 Department of Industrial and Reformatory Schools
       1887 - 1900 Department for Neglected Children
             1901 - 1924 Department for Neglected Children
                   1924 - 1960 Children's Welfare Department
                         1960 - 1970 Social Welfare Branch
                               1970 - 1978 Social Welfare Department
                                     1978 - 1985 Department of Community Welfare Services
                                           1985 - 1992 Community Services Victoria
                                                 1992 - 1995 Health and Community Services
                                                       1995 - 2014 Department of Human Services
                                                             2015 - Department of Health & Human Services

Related Events

Related Organisations

  • The Salvation Army Westcare (c. 1980 - 2018)

    Following the closure of the Bayswater Boys' Homes in 1980, the Salvation Army and the Department of Community Welfare Services decided to establish residential units in the western region of Melbourne.



  • Victorian Year Book, Australian Bureau of Statistics, Victorian Office, 1873 - 2002. 1983. Details


  • Annual report: Department of Community Welfare Services, Victoria, Government Printer, Melbourne, 1978-84. Details


The Community Welfare Services Act 1978
The Community Welfare Services Act 1978


Sources used to compile this entry: Annual report: Department of Community Welfare Services, Victoria, Government Printer, Melbourne, 1978-84.

Prepared by: Cate O'Neill