The Health Act 1898 (62 Vict. No.24) was the first comprehensive piece of legislation to regulate public health matters in Western Australia. In Part 7, the Act contained a number of elements that were relevant to children in out of home care: 'Infant Life Protection'. Alice Mitchell, the famous Baby Farmer, was in breach of this section when the infant Ethel Booth was found to have died in her home. The conviction of Mary Burton for the manslaughter of baby William Kennedy in 1888 and growing public awareness of the practice and cruelties of baby farming throughout the world had stimulated the inclusion of infant life protection in the new Act. Anyone who 'took in' infants (children under 2 years of age) for more than 24 hours had to be registered and had to register the names and other details of the children in their 'care'. The Health Act 1898 was repealed by the Health Act 1911 (62 Vict. No.24).
The Health Act 1898 also:
Relatives of infants and certain institutions were exempted from this legislation, as were institutions that were established for the 'protection or care' of infants or children (such as orphanages or poor houses).
1898 - 1911 Health Act 1898
1911 - Health Act 1911
Sources used to compile this entry: 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 and Christine Moje
Created: 17 June 2012, Last modified: 13 June 2018