Illegitimacy was the status given to children born as a result of an out of wedlock, or ex-nuptial, pregnancy. The term 'illegitimate' replaced the even more pejorative term 'bastard' to describe these children. The social stigma surrounding illegitimacy was a factor behind many children being relinquished by unmarried mothers, or being placed in out-of-home 'care'. Attitudes to children born from ex-nuptial pregnancies started to shift from around the 1960s in Australia. This shift was later accompanied in more social security and childcare options for single mothers. The 1974 Status of Children Act provided that all children, irrespective of the marital status of their mother and father, were of equal status in terms of the laws in Victoria.
Prepared by: Cate O'Neill
Created: 9 March 2010, Last modified: 28 October 2011