Added: September 5, 2015 – Last updated: September 5, 2015


Author: Shurlee Swain

Title: History of child protection legislation


Place: Sydney

Publisher: Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse

Year: October 2014

Pages: 91pp.

ISBN-13: 9781925118599 (print) – Find a Library: Wikipedia, WorldCat | ISBN-13: 9781925118605 (online) – Find a Library: Wikipedia, WorldCat

Language: English

Keywords: 19th Century, 20th Century, 21st Century | Australian History | Prosecution: Laws; Types: Child Sexual Abuse


Link: Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse (Free Access)


Author: Shurlee Swain, Australian Catholic University

Abstract: »This paper surveys the legislation relating to the out-of-home care of children. It identifies four chronological but overlapping waves of legislation. The first, beginning in the 1860s, documents the ways in which different jurisdictions structured their child welfare system, initially influenced by concerns around vagrancy, but later revised in the light of the child rescue movement. The second, dating from the 1860s, focuses on regulating care providers, establishing systems of inspection and regulations covering punishment and employment. The third concerns the ways in which legislation constructed the children’s parents, initially seeking to deter them from ‘foisting their children on the state’ but, from the 1880s, introducing measures designed to keep families together. The fourth covers legislation designed to deal with children seen as requiring special provision: child migrants, Aboriginal children, infants, and children with disabilities. The survey concludes that child welfare provision in Australia is better described as a patchwork than a coordinated model. Poorly resourced and often slow to respond to international developments in the field, it left children exposed to a system which had more interest in economy and deterrence than in ensuring their rights and best interests.« (Shurlee Swain. History of child protection legislation. Sydney 2014: 3)


  Preface (p. 1)
  Executive summary (p. 3)
  Overview of the legislative responses (p. 4)
    Scope and sources (p. 5)
    Historical context (p. 5)
    Establishment and regulation (p. 5)
      1850-79 State children's departments (p. 6)
      1880-1919 The rise of child rescue (p. 7)
      1919-50 Consolidation (p. 8)
      1950-75 From best interests to children's rights (p. 9)
    The experience of 'care' (p. 9)
      Regulating boarding-out (p. 10)
      Regulating employment (p. 11)
      Regulating punishment (p. 12)
    Attitudes to families (p. 13)
      Punishing parents (p. 13)
      Preserving families (p. 14)
    Special provision (p. 15)
      Child migrants (p. 16)
      Aboriginal children (p. 17)
      Child offenders (p. 19)
      Infants (p. 20)
      Children with disabilities (p. 22)
    Conclusion (p. 22)
  Appendix 1: Legislation related to child protection (p. 23)
  Appendix 2: Definitions of neglect (p. 85)

Wikipedia: Child sexual abuse