History of Child Protection in Australia

This paper provides a brief history of developments in child protection services in Australia and internationally.

Social and political interest in the protection of children from abuse or neglect at the hands of caregivers is a relatively recent phenomenon. Since the early colonial days in Australia, there have been some forms of protection for children. Abused and abandoned children were either boarded out to approved families or placed in orphanages run by voluntary organisations (Tomison, 2001).

History of Child Protection in South Australia

The Government has placed children in State care into foster care since the 19th century. Children were boarded out, as the foster care system was known originally, with families from the early 1850s under arrangements made by the Destitute Board.1 In the 1860s a group of concerned citizens began to lobby for children to be placed in family homes rather than institutions.2 This campaign led to the formation of the Boarding-out Society in 1872 ‘for the supervision of the children when placed out’.3