State of Western Australia
The Child Welfare Department of Western Australia was responsible for the welfare of children in out of home care for much of the twentieth century. Known as the 'CWD' or 'the welfare', the department had an impact on the lives of many WA families. The CWD ran its own Children's Homes, 'placed' children in other Children's Homes or Foster Homes and organised adoptions. It licensed and inspected the places and people who were registered to provide care and kept statistics on the number of children who were in care. The CWD also had the power to bring children before the Children's Court.
The State Records Office website gives an overview of the history of the Child Welfare Department:
In 1927 the State Children Act Amendment Act was passed changing the name of the principal Act and the State Children's Department to Child Welfare Act and Child Welfare Department respectively. Responsibility for the Child Welfare function remained with the Chief Secretary until 1931 when it was passed to the Minister for Mines.
In 1934 a separate portfolio was created for child welfare. The Child Welfare Department was abolished in 1972 and its functions passed to the newly created Department for Community Welfare.
Until 1972, the Child Welfare Department shared responsibility for the 'care and control' of children who were 'Aboriginal Wards' with the Chief Protector of Aborigines, and later the Commissioner for Native Affairs and the Commissioner of Native Welfare. I
Sydney Watson had been the Secretary (head) of the Child Welfare Department for its first 15 years when he retired in 1932 after 37 years service. The department's Annual Report of that year described Mr Watson's contribution as follows:
His successful efforts in improving legislation for the protection of children and those in distress, his unfailing courtesy, keen sympathy, and practical help, have won, not only well merited appreciation, but better still, have left behind as the outcome of his official career a lasting tribute of better conditions to many in need.
1874 - 1908 Superintendent of Poor Relief and Inspector of Charitable Institutions
1908 - 1917 Public Charities and State Children Department
1917 - 1927 State Children Department
1927 - 1972 Child Welfare Department
1972 - 1985 Department for Community Welfare
1985 - 1992 Department for Community Services
1992 - 1995 Department for Community Development
1995 - 2001 Department for Family and Children's Services
2001 - 2007 Department for Community Development
2007 - 2013 Department for Communities
2007 - 2013 Department for Child Protection
2013 - 2017 Department of Local Government and Communities
2013 - 2017 Department for Child Protection and Family Support
2017 - Department of Communities
2017 - Department of Communities
2017 - Child Protection and Family Support
2017 - Department of Local Government, Sport and Cultural Industries
Sources used to compile this entry: Western Australia. Child Welfare Department, Annual Report of the Child Welfare Department, Child Welfare Department, Perth [W.A.], 1928-1972. 1930, 1932, 1935, 1953, 1965, 1970..
Prepared by: Leanne Howard and Debra Rosser
Created: 6 June 2011, Last modified: 21 April 2016