Colony of Victoria
The Chief Secretary's Department played a significant role in the administration of Victorian government agencies from the time of its establishment in 1855. Prior to this, the Colonial Secretary had responsibility for many of these functions. With the federation of the colonies in 1901, this Department became part of the State Government of Victoria.
Among the Chief Secretary's Department's continuing responsibilities from 1855 were the prison system and associated social control and welfare programs. It was ultimately responsible for the care of 'neglected' children and juvenile offenders. For example, the Department of Neglected Children was a sub-department of the Chief Secretary's Department. It was ultimately separated into the newly established Social Welfare Department in 1970 after the passage of the Social Welfare Act in the same year.
The Chief Secretary's administrative involvement in child welfare means that the records of the Chief Secretary are a potentially rich source of information about children and families' interactions with the 'care' system. For example, the Registers of Licences contain records of children licensed to the care of private persons between 1874 and 1878. Further references to children in institutions may be found in the Chief Secretary's correspondence, registers and indexes. These records are in the custody of Public Record Office Victoria (PROV).
1855 - 1901 Chief Secretary's Department
1901 - 1979 Chief Secretary's Department
Sources used to compile this entry: 'VA 475 Chief Secretary's Department', in Public Record Office Victoria Online Catalogue, Agency details, catalogue entry, Public Record Office Victoria, http://www.prov.vic.gov.au/.
Prepared by: Cate O'Neill
Created: 6 August 2009, Last modified: 10 April 2014