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.
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
Created: 26 October 2011, Last modified: 2 March 2015