|Description of this AgencyDescription of this Agency|
On December 22 1970, under the provisions of the Social Welfare Act 1970 (No.8089), a Minister for Social Welfare was appointed. Following proclamation of the Act on 5 January 1971 the Social Welfare Department was established as a Department of State. The purposes for which the Department was established were specified in Part I, section 5 of the Act:
For strengthening and expanding all existing services provided by and through the Government of Victoria for the social welfare of the community and providing further services, for co-ordinating the activities of Government municipal and voluntary organizations engaged in social work in the community and planning the effective use of their resources, for advancing the interests of deprived or underprivileged children, young persons, and adults by modern methods and treatment, for providing and maintaining training and research facilities for or towards any of the purposes of this Act and for the better promotion and development of services organizations and institutions relating to the social welfare of the community and in particular of children and young persons there shall be a Department of State called the `Social Welfare Department'...
Administered by a Director-General of Social Welfare, the Department assumed responsibility for all functions previously administered by the Social Welfare Branch, Chief Secretary's Department (VA 2784) and continued the Divisional structure which had existed in the Branch. The Department also assumed responsibility for school attendance regulation from the Education Department. In 1971 the Department assumed responsibility for funding children's homes from the Department of Health (VA 695).
Divisions and Functions
The seven major divisions and the functions for which they had responsibility were:
Family Welfare Division
This Division was responsible for maintaining and upgrading various forms of substitute care for children and for the development of preventative family support services aimed at reducing the necessity for long-term substitute care. Functions included:
promotion and development of family welfare
co-ordination of voluntary organizations, Government departments, and persons concerned with provision of welfare services for families
control and supervision of children and young persons in need of care and protection, including wardship, foster care, adoption, protection of infants, child employment, and child migrant welfare
management and supervision of children's homes and reception centres
family assistance (financial) and family counselling.
Youth Welfare Division
The functions of this Division, which was responsible for the placement, supervision, detention and welfare of young persons, included:
administration of remand centres, youth training centres and youth hostels
provision of youth welfare services, including work-release programs, and community service activities.
The Prisons Division had been initially established under the Social Welfare Act 1960 to carry out two main functions:
to control and supervise all persons imprisoned or detained in any gaol
to assist in the rehabilitation into the community of all persons released or discharged from any gaol.
Following the reconstitution of the Social Welfare Branch as the Social Welfare Department under the Social Welfare Act 1970 (No.8089) the Prisons Division became responsible for two new functions:
to provide welfare services to prisoners and their families
to assist and promote co-operation between organizations and Government departments concerned with the welfare and aftercare of prisoners.
These new functions saw the Division provide additional support services for prisoners and their families.
The Division also became responsible for work release programs in 1975 and for the control of attendance centres, which were progressively opened from 1976 and offered an alternative to full-time imprisonment. These services, together with the employment of social workers to service all prisons, reflected a redefinition of Government policy to include non-custodial correctional services and a greater emphasis on rehabilitation.
When the Prisons Division ceased operation in January 1979 with the proclamation of the Community Welfare Services Act 1978 (No.9248), the Correctional Services Division of the new Department of Community Welfare Services assumed responsibility for its functions.
For further information about the administration of prisons and correctional services, see also VRG 9 Prisons and Youth Training Centres and VRG 93 Corrections.
Probation and Parole Division
This Division was responsible for the central administration of adult and youth probation and parole services, in conjunction with the Adult Parole Board and the Youth Parole Board, for Children's Court probation services and for the provision of these services in the inner-metropolitan district. Provision of these services in country and outer-metropolitan regions was increasingly undertaken by the Regional Services Division.
Regional Services Division
From the establishment of the Department in 1971, increasingly greater emphasis was placed on the regionalisation of social welfare services. This Division became responsible for the provision of many social welfare services in country and metropolitan areas emphasizing the planning and development of community services at a regional and local level. In particular this Division became responsible for the provision of probation and parole services and (from 1976) for the administration of the foster care programme.
Research and Statistics Division
This Division collated departmental statistics and undertook research projects related to social welfare matters.
This Division was responsible for the provision of in-service, pre-service, and volunteer training programmes for prison, child care, youth and family welfare workers.
Establishment of the Community Welfare Services Department
Under provisions of the Community Welfare Services Act 1978 the Social Welfare Department became known, in 1979, as the Department of Community Welfare Services and all functions of the former Department were assumed by the new Department.
Location of Records
For records of the Social Welfare Department see the List of Holdings 2nd edition 1985, section 3.5.1 (Department of Community Services). Researchers are also advised to consult sections 3.4.7 (Prisons Division), 3.4.8 (Adult Parole Board), 3.5.6 (Youth Parole Board), 8.0.0 (Health and Welfare Agencies) and 13.0.0 (Prisons and Youth Training Centres). See also VRG 8 Health and Welfare Agencies and VRG 9 Prisons and Youth Training Centres for the records of individual institutions.