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Western Australia - Glossary Term

Child Endowment (1941 - 1976)

From
1941
To
1976

Child Endowment was a Commonwealth allowance introduced in 1941 'as a special supplement' for women with children 'amid concern over the ability of a basic wage to support a family of four or more children, and in recognition of the direct costs of maintaining children'. Before 1950, a mother under the age of 16 years would not receive child endowment for her first child. Child endowment was not paid in cash to Aboriginal mothers in Western Australia until 1951. Child endowment was replaced with Family Allowance in 1976.

Details

Child Endowment was a Commonwealth allowance introduced in 1941 to help women support their children. It was a 'graduated payment according to family size, provided to all parents…as a non‐taxable weekly payment'.

When the first Child Endowment Act 1941 was passed, children in State or Commonwealth institutions were not eligible to receive child endowment payments. (Children in religious or charitable Homes were paid child endowment.) In 1942, the legislation was amended to include government-run institutions, as well as Aboriginal children living on missions.

Beliefs about who should receive Child Endowment underwrote its distribution. Before 1950, a mother under the age of 16 years would not receive child endowment for her first child. In Western Australia, non-nomadic Aboriginal mothers did not have control over the cash payment until 1951. In his annual report (1953, p.5) the Commissioner for Native Affairs gave some information about this:

All qualified aborigines who are not nomads, and who need and can satisfactorily use it, receive Child Endowment. At the time of my assumption of office this Department controlled many child endowment payments, the control usually taking the form of orders issued on a local store instead of payment in cash. Quiet but thorough investigation revealed that the need for retention of this system no longer existed, that it has been abused in some instances, and that it militated against the interests of both the Department and the recipients. Its discontinuance in 1951 did not result in repercussions of any kind, but it did vastly improve the attitude of natives towards the Department and its Field Officers.

Child endowment was replaced with Family Allowance in 1976.

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Sources used to compile this entry: Daniels, Dale, Social Security Payments for People Caring for Children, 1912-2008: a chronology - tables 2-4, Parliament of Australia, 2009, http://www.aph.gov.au/About_Parliament/Parliamentary_Departments/Parliamentary_Library/pubs/BN/0809/childrenpartb; Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations, 'Submission No. 335 Commonwealth Contribution to Former Forced Adoption Policies and Practices', in Submissions received by the Committee, Commonwealth of Australia, 2012, http://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Committees/Senate/Community_Affairs/Completed_inquiries/2010-13/commcontribformerforcedadoption/submissions. p.1.; 'Western Australia Protectors Reports 1899-1959', in To Remove and Protect: Aboriginal Lives Under Control [website], Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies, National Library of Australia, http://aiatsis.gov.au/collections/collections-online/digitised-collections/remove-and-protect/western-australia. Annual Report of the Commissioner of Native Affairs 1953, p.5..

Prepared by: Debra Rosser