The Child Welfare Act 1947 was the principal legislation governing child welfare in Western Australia, regulating the treatment of children sent to WA as unaccompanied child migrants after 1947 as well as all others in out of home care in the State. The Act repealed the State Children Act 1907 (as amended to 1941) but essentially retained the scope of the earlier legislation. Its purpose was to 'consolidate and amend' the laws for 'the protection, control, maintenance and reformation of neglected and destitute children' and related matters. New provisions included enabling penalties against a child to be withheld if it could be shown that circumstances such as a child's upbringing or health had contributed to the offence (s.26). The Act was amended many times during the 1950s and 1960s but was not greatly changed until the Child Welfare Amendment Act (No 2) 1976 was implemented. The Child Welfare Act 1947 was eventually repealed by the Children and Community Services Act 2004 on 1 March 2006.
The Child Welfare Act 1947 governed out of home care in Western Australia from January 1948. It repealed the State Children Act 1907 and all its amendments, including the State Children Act Amendment Act 1919, the State Children Act Amendment Act 1927 and the Child Welfare Act Amendment Act 1941. The purpose of the 1947 Act was not dissimilar from the legislation's origins in 1907: 'to consolidate and amend the law relating to the making of better provision for the protection, control, maintenance and reformation of neglected and destitute children, and for other purposes connected therewith.'
Although the Act was amended many times during the 1950s and 1960s, it was not greatly changed until the Child Welfare Amendment Act (No 2) 1976 was implemented with a number of modernisations.
The Child Welfare Act 1947 was eventually repealed by the Children and Community Services Act 2004.
1874 - 1893 Industrial Schools Act 1874
1893 - 1907 Industrial and Reformatory Schools Act 1893
1907 - 1948 State Children Act 1907
1948 - 2006 Child Welfare Act 1947
2004 - Children and Community Services Act 2004
Sources used to compile this entry: 'Child Welfare Act 1947 (WA)', 1947, http://www.slp.wa.gov.au/legislation/statutes.nsf/main_mrtitle_7632_homepage.html; To Remove and Protect: Aboriginal Lives Under Control [website], 2010, http://aiatsis.gov.au/collections/collections-online/digitised-collections/remove-and-protect; ; Law Research Service, Melbourne Law School, Law Library, The University of Melbourne. 'Find and Connect Project - Western Australia Legislation', 13 December 2013, held in the project files at the University of Melbourne eScholarship Research Centre.
Prepared by: Debra Rosser
Created: 18 July 2011, Last modified: 8 August 2017