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Western Australia - Glossary Term

Unmarried Mothers

Categories
Term commonly found on child welfare records

Single pregnant women (and their children who were born out of wedlock) were the targets of various charitable endeavours in WA from the earliest days of white settlement. Until at least the late 1970s, to be an unmarried mother carried significant stigma and the approach taken by institutions was usually to hide the young woman away from society. Single pregnant women were generally regarded as a disgrace, and institutions often took a punitive approach to their care. From about the 1940s to the late 1970s, many of these mothers experienced enormous pressure to consent to have their child adopted, which was seen to be a fresh start for both mother and baby.

Publications

Reports

  • Western Australia. Child Welfare Department, Annual Report of the Child Welfare Department, Child Welfare Department, Perth [W.A.], 1928-1972. 1937. Details

Online Resources

Photos

Matron and sisters at the Salvation Army Hillcrest maternity home, North Fremantle, with some new arrivals
Title
Matron and sisters at the Salvation Army Hillcrest maternity home, North Fremantle, with some new arrivals
Type
Image
Date
15 February 1945
Source
Western Mail

Details

Sources used to compile this entry: 'Removal of Children from Unmarried Mothers - Apology [Hansard p7881a-7889a]', in parliament.wa.gov.au, Parliament of Western Australia, 19 October 2010, http://www.parliament.wa.gov.au/Hansard/hansard.nsf/0/fff526da4cf39505482577c900279425/$FILE/A38%20S1%2020101019%20p7881a-7889a.pdf; 'National Research Study on the Service Response to Past Adoption Experiences', in Australian Institute of Family Studies, Australian Institute of Family Studies, https://aifs.gov.au/publications/past-adoption-experiences; Western Australia. Child Welfare Department, Annual Report of the Child Welfare Department, Child Welfare Department, Perth [W.A.], 1928-1972. 1937.; Western Australia. Department for Community Development, ROADS. An index of locations and access to adoption records., with Adoption Service, Department for Community Development, Dept. For Community Development, 2005, http://www.dcp.wa.gov.au/FosteringandAdoption/Documents/ROADS2006.pdf.

Prepared by: Debra Rosser