|Description of this AgencyDescription of this Agency|
Establishment and Functions
Following the achievement of responsible government in 1855, the central role of the Colonial Secretary passed to the Chief Secretary whose department co-ordinated, in addition to the departmental branches, a wide variety of other agencies not specifically assigned to other Ministers. The Department also co-ordinated the policy of government and acted as a channel of communication between departments. Consequently the inward and outward correspondence of the Department are a rich source of information about many government activities especially for the period to 1900.
As departmental and ministerial arrangements were formalised during the second half of the nineteenth century, other ministerial departments came to act more independently. Chief Secretary's remained, however, the principal omnibus department and its Minister was head of government exclusively until 1874 and then periodically until 1918. The Department was responsible for the administration of matters relating to head of government functions until 1883. Between 1894 and 1928 it was again responsible for this function through the Premier's Office (VA 672), which operated as a sub-department of the Chief Secretary's Department during this period.
As well as serving the Chief Minister or Premier, the Chief Secretary's Department inherited the functional responsibilities formerly exercised by the Colonial Secretary's Office (VA 856). including:
* agricultural matters
* census, statistics and registration functions
* libraries, galleries and museums
* liquor and theatre licensing
* mining and goldfields administration, including the Chinese on the Goldfields
* police administration.
A number of these diverse functions gradually became the responsibility of separate departments, for example mining from 1860 (VA 2719), agriculture from 1872 (VA 618), education from 1873 (VA 714), and public health from 1890 (VA 2904).
Among the Chief Secretary's Department's prime continuing responsibilities from 1855 were the prison system and associated social control and welfare programs which were separated out into the new Social Welfare Department in 1970 (VA 946); the maintenance of law and order through the Victoria Police Force and management of other emergency services, which were inherited by the Ministry for Police and Emergency Services (VA 421) in 1979 when the Chief Secretary's portfolio was finally dismantled; the administration of policies and programs for Aborigines in 1855 and 1856 and from 1860 to 1968 when the Ministry of Aboriginal Affairs portfolio (VA 2873) was established; and the administration of mental health services and facilities until 1944 when this also became a responsibility of the Department of Health (VA 695). The Chief Secretary was also responsible for the conduct of elections until 1979 when the State Electoral Office passed to Property and Services (VRG 69). Libraries, galleries and museums remained part of the Department for many years until 1972 when the Ministry for the Arts (VA 1025) was established and these responsibilities were transferred to the new department. The Chief Secretary was also responsible for liquor licensing for an extended period and for the administration of laws relating to racing and other professional sports, gambling and betting. The Minister for Labour and Industry (VRG 42) inherited responsibility for liquor licensing in 1979 and the new Department of Youth, Sport and Recreation (VA 1028) took over responsibility for sporting and recreational matters in 1972. While some registration functions were only exercised for a short period in the 19th century, for example inquests from 1856 to 1869 and land titles from 1863 to 1864, census and statistics, including the registration of births, deaths and marriages, were a responsibility of the Chief Secretary's Department for many years, passing in 1979 to the Department of Property and Services (VA 430).
Other functions developed within the Chief Secretary's Department and were subsequently taken over by new departments. Concern about employment conditions, industrial and safety issues in the latter part of the 19th century resulted in the regulation of factories and shops and, by 1900, when the first Minister of Labour (VRG 42) was appointed, this regulatory function had developed into a major area of government activity. Administrative support for this function continued to be provided by the Chief Secretary's Department until 1916.
The Chief Secretary had briefly exercised some responsibility for immigration between 1900 and 1904. In the immediate post-war period, the Chief Secretary became responsible for the State's role in joint commonwealth-state immigration schemes until the appointment of a Minister of Immigration in 1950 (VRG 90). However the State Immigration Office continued to operate within the Chief Secretary's Department until 1971.
More detail about the Chief Secretary's role as head of government and the diverse functional responsibilities of the Department is provided below under the following headings:
* The Chief Secretary as Head of Government
* Aborigines 1855-1856 and 1860-1968
* Agriculture 1855-1872 and Animal Protection to 1979
* Cemeteries 1888-1890
* Census, Statistics and Registration Functions to 1979
* Defence c1855-1858
* Education 1855-1873
* Elections 1855-1979
* Goldfields Administration and Mining 1855-1860
* Health 1855-1944
* Immigration 1900-1904 and 1947-1971
* Labour and Industry to 1916
* Libraries and Galleries 1855-1972/3, Museums 1855-1976
* Liquor and Theatre Licensing
* Police and Emergency Services 1855-1979
* Prisons and Social Welfare 1855-1970
* Public Records 1973-1978
* Royal Botanic Gardens and Herbarium
* Sport, Recreation, Racing and Gaming to 1972
* Other Responsibilities.
THE CHIEF SECRETARY AS HEAD OF GOVERNMENT
The Chief Secretary was frequently also the head of government or Premier prior to 1918.
NOTE: For more information about the history and function of head of government in Victoria, see VRG 50 Premier.
Administrative Support for Head of Government Role
Administrative support for the head of government function was initially provided by the Chief Secretary's Office within the Chief Secretary's Department. By 1883, in view of the fact that the head of government was no longer always the Chief Secretary, separate administrative arrangements were made and a Premier's Department or Office (VA 672) was established.
The functions of the Premier's Department on its establishment were set down in an Order-in-Council of 29 May 1883:
* correspondence with other colonies, governments and the Agent-General
* correspondence with the Governor, including despatches from the Secretary of State in Britain referred by the Governor to Ministers
* matters referred to the Premier and Cabinet by other Ministers or departments for their consideration
* other matters concerning the Premier
* issuing Cabinet circulars and attending upon Cabinet (VA 2989)
* matters relating to the Public Service as a whole.
The Office's role in the central co-ordination of Government policy gradually expanded. Following Federation in 1900 it also became responsible for relations with the Commonwealth and other States.
From 1884 to 1890 this Office functioned as a sub-department within the Department of the Treasurer (VA 865); from 1890 to 1894 as a separate Department of State; from 1894 to 1928 as a sub-department within the Chief Secretary's Department; and from 1928 to 1936 again as a sub-department within the Department of the Treasurer (VA 865).
From December 1936, the Department of the Premier (VA 2717) and from 1982 the Department of the Premier and Cabinet (VA 1039) have assisted the Premier in his/her head of government functions and the co-ordination of government policies and programs.
An agency associated with the head of government role has been the Audit Office which was located within the Chief Secretary's Department until 1936 when it was transferred to the Department of the Premier (VA 2717).
Office of the Agent-General
Responsibility for the Agent-General for Victoria in London appears to have been associated with the provision of administrative support to the head of government role.
The first Agent-General took up office on 1 December 1868, being created under the Immigration Act 1863 (27 Vic 175). Functions of the Agent-General, established under the 1863 Act included:
* selection of emigrants and their conveyance to Victoria
* making contracts for such selection or conveyance on behalf of the Government of Victoria
* carrying out provisions of the Act
* presiding at all meetings of the Emigration Commissioners.
In 1872 the first Agent-General's Act 1872 (No.441) was passed. One of the sections of the Act provided that the Agent-General should carry out the instructions of the Governor-in-Council and, in 1904, the then Agent-General was instructed to reorganise the Agent-General's office upon a commercial basis so that the development of markets for Victorian produce, the dissemination of useful knowledge regarding the State, and the correction of misapprehension as to its people and resources might be the chief functions. From this time the office of the Agent-General dealt less with emigration.
Responsibility for the Agent-General remained with the Chief Secretary Department until 1883 when the Premier's Office (VA 672) was established.
Support to the Governor (VA 466) and the Executive Council (VA 2903)
From 1863 to 1936 the Official Secretary to the Governor was located within the Chief Secretary's Department however records maintained by the Official Secretary have been attributed to the Governor (VA 466). Likewise, although the Clerk of the Executive Council was located within the Chief Secretary's Department from 1901 to 1936 records have been attributed to the Executive Council (VA 2903).
ABORIGINES 1855-1856 AND 1860-1968
In 1855 and 1856 and from 1860 to 1968 the Chief Secretary was responsible for the administration of policy and programs for Aborigines in Victoria. The responsible agencies were: Guardian of Aborigines 1849-1860 (VA 513) the Central Board for the Protection of Aborigines 1860-1869 (VA 514), the Board for the Protection of Aborigines 1869-1957 (VA 515) and the Aboriginal Welfare Board 1957-1968. The staff of each of these agencies were located within the Chief Secretary's Department. The Colonial Secretary (VRG 16) had previously administered this function. In 1856 and 1857 responsibility for Aborigines was vested in the Surveyor-General (VRG 18) and subsequently in the Board of Land and Works (VA 744) until 1860.
The Guardian of Aborigines 1849-1960
The Guardian of Aborigines (VA 513) was appointed in 1849 following a Select Committee report which recommended the abolition of the Protectorate System. The Guardian was solely responsible for providing "protection to Aborigines". Crown Land Commissioners had been appointed as honorary protectors, their duties being to visit reserves, report on the condition of Aborigines and supply Aborigines with food and clothing "in cases of extreme emergency" (see VRG 27 District Land Offices).
The Central Board 1860-1869 and the Board for the Protection of Aborigines 1869-1957
Following a report by a further Select Committee established to inquire into Aboriginal welfare, the Central Board for the Protection of Aborigines (VA 514) was established in 1860. The new Board set up "native reserves" (stations) and supply depots throughout Victoria. In 1869 the Board was renamed the Board for the Protection of Aborigines (VA 515) and received statutory authority by an Act of Parliament entitled An Act to provide for the Protection and Management of the Aboriginal Natives of Victoria 11 November 1869 (No.CCCXLIX). The provisions of the Act regulated people defined by the Act as "Aboriginal natives", "Aboriginal half-caste", and "half-caste infants". The Board at this time was said to be concerned primarily with the "protection" of Aboriginal people as defined in the Act from the "evils" of European society such as drinking, as well as with the provision of clothing and food at stations and depots, and the provision of education to Aboriginal children. Under the provisions of the Act the Board had extensive powers to control and regulate the classes of people defined in the Act.
* regulate and prescribe places where Aborigines and Aboriginal tribes could reside
* prescribe the terms under which contracts were made for and on behalf of Aborigines
* prescribe the terms under which certificates could be granted to Aborigines who could earn a living
* distribute the earnings of any Aborigine or any produce resulting from Aboriginal labour on reserves
* distribute money granted by parliament
* regulate and provide care, custody and education for Aboriginal children.
During this period Aboriginal mortality rates increased and a Royal Commission was appointed to investigate this and allegations of mismanagement at stations. The resulting Aborigines Protection Act 1886 (No. DCCCCXII) re-defined the Board's responsibilities and functions. Aboriginal people classified as "half-caste" were increasing in number and were seen as incurring added expenditure. Therefore the Act re-classified Aboriginal people as "Aboriginal natives", "half-castes" associated and living with "Aboriginal natives" over 34 years of age, "female half-castes" either married or previously married to "Aboriginal natives" and still living with "Aboriginal natives", children of "Aboriginal natives", and any other "half-castes" holding licenses from the Board allowing them to reside where "Aboriginal natives" were living. Under this Act "half-castes" were entitled to receive limited benefits and had to be licensed in order to reside with "Aboriginal natives". The Board had the power, under direction from the Governor, to make and enforce regulations concerning "half-castes".
Aboriginal people living on stations during this time were expected to work hard, for little return, in an attempt to curb the costs associated with maintaining the stations.
In 1890 the Aborigines Act (No.1059) gave the Board further powers to license "half-caste" children, enter "half-caste" children into apprenticeships and transfer "half-caste" orphans into care.
The Aborigines Act 1910 (No.2255) gave the Board power, if it thought appropriate, to extend the regulations of the Act to cover "half-caste Aboriginals", the Chief Secretary having claimed that the costs would not greatly increase if "half-caste Aboriginals" were included.
Aborigines' Welfare Board 1957-1967
In 1957 the Board was abolished under the Aborigines Act 1957 (No.6086) and replaced by the Aborigines' Welfare Board which consisted of the Chief Secretary, the Under-Secretary, the Ministers of Education (VRG 35), Health (VRG 39) and Housing (VRG 53) and five other members, two of whom were to be Aborigines. A Superintendent of Aborigines was also appointed. The Board's functions were to "promote the moral, intellectual and physical welfare of Aborigines (including persons of Aboriginal descent) with a view to their assimilation into the general community". The powers of the Board were to:
* prescribe the distribution of money
* provide for the supply of clothing, medicine and rations
* manage and regulate Aboriginal reserves
* purchase, build or acquire buildings and land, and grant licenses to occupy land or buildings to Aborigines
* generally supervise matters concerning the interests and welfare of Aborigines.
The Act also prescribed conditions of employment and the issuing of permits to reside on reserves.
Post 1967 : Changing Focus of Aboriginal Affairs Policy
From the late 1950's there was increasing concern in Australia and internationally about policies and programs relating to Aborigines and their legal status, resulting in rapid changes in related legislation, policies and administrative arrangements.
In 1966, under the provisions of the Aborigines (Amendment) Act 1965 (No.7267) the Minister of Housing (VRG 53) succeeded the Chief Secretary as the Minister responsible for Aboriginal affairs. However the staff of the Aborigines' Welfare Board remained within the Chief Secretary's Department (VA 475). The appointment of a Minister of Aboriginal Affairs (VRG 58) in December 1967 reflected the beginning of a new policy direction in Victoria in regard to matters relating to Aborigines, and a move away from the earlier policy of assimilation, which dated from the late 1950's. The stated aim of the new policy was creating opportunities for Aborigines to take responsibility for their own affairs. The Minister's responsibilities involved "promoting the social and economic advancement of Aborigines in Victoria". The Aborigines' Welfare Board was abolished in 1968, when the Ministry of Aboriginal Affairs (VA 2873) was established under the provisions of the Aboriginal Affairs Act 1967 (No.7571).
Aborigines were recognised as Australian citizens under the Commonwealth Nationality and Citizenship Act 1948, and before this Act as British nationals. However, prior to 1967 the special laws passed by State legislatures, including Victoria, with the expressed purpose of "protection", in effect denied Aborigines the vote, required large numbers of them to live on reservations, and gave the agencies responsible for managing their affairs considerable powers to regulate and control their children, property, earnings and employment.
In 1967 a referendum extended voting rights to Aborigines and authorised a change to the federal Constitution (in particular sections 51 and 127 which had largely excluded Aborigines from federal jurisdiction), which by the mid-1970's was to result in the Commonwealth taking over from the states primary responsibility for policy and programs for Aborigines.
NOTE: For further information of the administration of policy and programs relating to Aborigines in Victoria, see VRG 58 Aboriginal Affairs.
AGRICULTURE 1855-1872 AND ANIMAL PROTECTION TO 1979
In the early days of settlement, sheep suffered from diseases such as scab and catarrh. Regulations to prevent the spread of disease were administered by Stock Inspectors appointed by the Superintendent of Port Phillip (VRG 11) and later the Colonial Secretary (VRG 16) and the Chief Secretary.
In 1859 a Board was established in the Chief Secretary's Department by an Act for the Establishment of a Board of Agriculture 22 Vic., No.83 to distribute grants in aid to agricultural societies, and operate an experimental farm at Royal Park. It was also responsible for disseminating information about agricultural practices and conducting classes for the study of agriculture.
The Board consisted of the Chief Secretary, the Commissioner of Crown Lands and Survey, three persons appointed by the Governor-in-Council and representatives of Agricultural Societies. It was abolished by the Act of 1870 34 Vic., No.380, having failed to demonstrate its usefulness.
Once large scale selection of land began in the early 1870's more Government assistance to, and regulation of, agriculture became necessary. Therefore in 1872 a Minister of Agriculture (VRG 34) was appointed, taking over responsibility for functions previously administered by the Chief Secretary including the control of stock diseases and the right to destroy stock and compensate owners. A Department of Agriculture (VA 618) was also established in 1872, initially as a branch of the Department of Crown Lands and Survey (VA 538), but in 1882 it became a Department in its own right.
The Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals was established in 1871 and today (1989) functions according to a constitution laid down by the Prevention of Cruelties to Animals Act 1968. Until 1979 the Society and its activities were associated with the Chief Secretary's portfolio, from 1979 to 1981 with Conservation (VRG 55), and thereafter with Agriculture (VRG 34), later Agriculture and Rural Affairs (VRG 79).
Under the provisions of the Cemeteries Acts trustees of public cemeteries were to be appointed by the Governor-in-Council. The Trustees were responsible for the establishment and management of public cemeteries, the collection of fees, expenditure of government subsidies including fencing grants and the making of rules and regulations for the administration of cemeteries.
By 1864 and until August 1873, the Commissioner of Public Works (VRG 28) and the Public Works Department (VA 669) were responsible for the administration of cemeteries including the appointment of trustees and approval of regulations and fees. From 1873 until 1888 the Commissioner of Crown Lands and Survey (VRG 18) and the Department of Crown Lands and Survey (VA 538) were responsible and in 1888 the Chief Secretary (VRG 26) and the Chief Secretary's Department assumed responsibility. The Public Works Department (VA 669) however continued to be responsible for the allocation of fencing grants.
In 1890, under the provisions of the Public Health Act 1889 (No.1044), the Minister of Health (VRG 39) and the Department of Public Health (VA 2904) became responsible for the management of cemeteries and responsibility has remained within the Health portfolio since that time.
CENSUS, STATISTICS AND REGISTRATION FUNCTIONS TO 1979
The Chief Secretary's Department and its sub-departments were responsible at various times for a range of functions associated with census and statistics; the registration of land titles, births, deaths, marriages, companies, inquests, patents, copyright and trademarks; and in later years for the registration of estate agents (1974-1978).
A number of registrations functions - companies, inquests, patents, trademarks and copyright - were the responsibility of the Registrar-General, who was located in the Chief Secretary's Department until 1869.
Births, Deaths and Marriages Registration 1855-1869 and 1893-1979
Compulsory registration was first introduced in 1853 under the Act 16 Vic., No.26. The administration of the function has been the responsibility of the following Groups and Agencies:
VA 2889 Registrar-General's Department
VRG 16 Colonial Secretary (to 1855)
VRG 26 Chief Secretary (to 1869)
VA 862 Office of the Registrar-General and the Office of Titles
VRG 19 Law (to 1893)
VA 989 Office of Government Statist and Actuary
VRG 26 Chief Secretary (to 1979)
VA 983 Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages (1983-1986: Assistant Government Statist, Registration of Births, Deaths and Marriages)
VRG 69 Property and Services (from 1979)
Census and Statistics 1855-1869 and 1874-1979
Originally the responsibility of the Statistics Branch within the Colonial Secretary's Office (VA 856), collection of statistics and periodic census taking became the responsibility of the Registrar-General's Department (VA 2889) in 1854, was transferred to the Office of the Registrar-General and the Office of Titles (VA 862) in 1873 and then to the newly formed Office of the Government Statist and Actuary (VA 989) in 1874. Ministerial responsibility for this agency has been exercised by the Colonial Secretary (VRG 16) to 1855, the Chief Secretary 1855-1869 (VRG 26), the Attorney-General (VRG 19) 1869-1874, the Chief Secretary 1874-1979, the Minister for Property and Services (VRG 69) 1979-1983, and the Treasurer (VRG 23) since 1983. The functional responsibilities of the agency in relation to census and statistics have, since federation, largely been taken over by the Commonwealth (VRG 87) and the Australian Bureau of Census and Statistics.
From 1893 until 1983 the Office of the Government Statist and Actuary was also responsible for the registration of births, deaths and marriages under the Births, Deaths and Marriages Transfer Act 1893 (No.1303).
Inquests Registration 1856-1869
The registration of inquest findings was the responsibility of the Registrar-General's Department (VA 2889) in 1856-1873 and the Office of the Registrar-General and the Office of Titles (VA 862) until 1988 when this function was taken over by the State Coroner's Office (VA 2807). Ministerial responsibility was exercised by the Chief Secretary to 1869, the Attorney-General (VRG 19) to 1985, the Minister of Property and Services (VRG 69) to 1988 and the Attorney-General (VRG 19) from 1988.
Under the provisions of the Justices of the Peace Acts and the Coroners Acts, coroners were required to forward depositions to the Crown Prosecutor. From 1853 and the proclamation of An Act for Registering Births Deaths and Marriages in the Colony of Victoria 16 Vic., No.26, coroners were required to inform the Chief Registrar in the Registrar-General's Department (VA 2889) of the particulars of deaths and the findings of the jury or the opinion of the magistrate as to the cause of death in those cases where an inquest or magisterial inquiry was held.
In 1856, following correspondence between the Chief Registrar and the Attorney General concerning the obligations of coroners to provide information, the Attorney General advised the Chief Registrar that depositions in cases of inquests would, in future, be forwarded to that office as soon as it had been ascertained that they were no longer required for the administration of justice. (See register of legal opinions in the custody of VA 983 Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages.)
The practice of forwarding inquest depositions to the Registrar-General continued until 1988. For more details about the function, see VRG 19 Law.
Land Titles Registration 1863-1864
The transfer and registration of land titles from 1862 under the newly introduced Torrens system was the responsibility of the following Groups and Agencies:
VA 2889 Registrar-General's Department
VRG 26 Chief Secretary
VA 2926 Commissioner of Titles
VRG 19 Law
VA 2888 Office of Titles
VRG 19 Law
VA 862 Office of the Registrar-General and the Office of Titles
VRG 19 Law (to 1985)
VRG 69 Property and Services
For more information about the Torrens system, see VA 862.
Patents Registration to 1869
Until 1865 the registration of patents was a function of the Chief Secretary's Department, thereafter of the Registrar-General's Department (VA 2889) and from 1873-1889 of the Office of the Registrar-General and Office of Titles (VA 862). In 1889 the Commissioner of Patents within the Law Department (VA 2825) assumed responsibility for this area until it was taken over in 1904 by the Commonwealth. Ministerial responsibility was exercised by the Chief Secretary (VRG 26) to 1869 and the Attorney-General (VRG 19) to 1904.
Trademarks and Copyright to 1869
These functions were also administered by the Registrar-General (VA 2889 and VA 862) until 1905 when the Commonwealth (VRG 87) assumed responsibility.
It is most likely that the Colonial Secretary's Office (VA 856) and after 1855 the Chief Secretary's Department had responsibility for the growing defence function. Further research is required to establish this responsibility with certainty. However it is clear that from 1856 until 1857 the Chief Secretary had responsibility for defence co-ordination and policy which included:
* Her Majesty's Regular Troops
* the Commissariat
* the Volunteer Forces and Staff (from 1854)
* the Steam Sloop Victoria (from 1854)
Between 1854 and 1858 the Colonial Government undertook the payment of Imperial troops as well as the newly established volunteer forces.
In 1858 responsibility for defence was assumed by the Treasurer (VRG 23).
The Chief Secretary took over responsibility for education from the Colonial Secretary (VRG 16) in 1855 and continued to be responsible for this area until 1873 when a Minister of Public Instruction (VRG 35) was appointed and the Education Department (VA 714) established to administer the Education Act 1872.
Early schools in the Colony were run by religious organisations. In 1848 a Board of National Education (VA 920) and a Denominational School Board had been established in New South Wales to regulate denominational schools and provide for government-funded education. In the Port Phillip District a Denominational School Board (VA 703) had been set up in the same year to regulate and inspect the secular aspects of denominational schools supported by public funding. In 1852 the Victorian National School Board (VA 919) was established under the Education (National) Act 1851 15 Vic., No.7 with responsibility for regulating government schools, training, appointing and paying teachers, maintaining school buildings, and administering two thirds of national school funding.
The National and Denominational School Boards were amalgamated to form the Board of Education (VA 713) in 1862 under the Common Schools Act 25 Vic., No.149. The Board was abolished with the establishment of the new Education Department in 1873.
NOTE: For more information about the history of education in Victoria, see VRG 35 Education. For records of Educational Institutions, see VRG 24 Educational Institutions.
Elections were held in Victoria from 1851 under the provisions of the Constitution Act (and subsequently of the Constitution Act Amendment Act) as well as a succession of laws relating specifically to elections, until electoral matters were brought comprehensively into the Constitution Act Amendment Act 1890 (No.1675).
Until the appointment of a Chief Electoral Inspector under the Purification of Rolls Act 1891 (No.1242), the statutory responsibilities for electoral matters were divided amongst the several electoral registrars (responsible for electoral rolls) and the returning officers (responsible for the conduct of elections). The Inspector had functions in relation to the electoral rolls only.
In 1910, the position of Chief Electoral Officer was established under the Electoral Act 1910 (No.2288) with general responsibility for the administration of electoral laws. The Chief Electoral Inspector and later the Chief Electoral Officer and the State Electoral Office appear to have operated in close connection with the Chief Secretary's Office until 1979 when the Chief Electoral Officer became part of the Property and Services portfolio (VRG 69). In January 1989 the Chief Electoral Officer or Electoral Commissioner achieved independent and Chief Administrator status and now (1989) reports directly to Parliament.
Compilation of Electoral Rolls
Initially, electoral rolls were compiled by Collectors of Electoral Lists and transmitted to the Clerks of the Court of Petty Sessions which were established to act as "revision courts" for the lists (see 14 Vic., No.47 et seq.). Similar provisions were extended to the elections for both Houses after 1855 (19 Vic., No.12 et seq). After 1863 (27 Vic., No.168 et seq) compilation of the rolls was the responsibility of the electoral registrars. In 1868, separate provision was made for the compilation of rolls for the Legislative Council from lists of ratepayers drawn up by municipal clerks and transmitted to the electoral registrars.
With the establishment of the Chief Electoral Inspector and district electoral inspectors under the 1891 Act, provision was made for the centralisation of the rolls. Since 1924, the Assembly rolls have been maintained by the Commonwealth Electoral Office (see Victorian Yearbook 1972, p.91) under the Joint Rolls Agreement Act (1924 Act No.3331). Separate provision continued to be made for the Council rolls until they too came under the Agreement in 1952 (Act No.5465).
Conduct of Elections
The several returning officers are governed by the provisions of the electoral laws in the conduct of elections and have been, since the 1910 Act, under the general administration of the Chief Electoral Officer.
Provision was made in the 1851 Act for the appointment of a Disputed Returns Committee (1851-1855) of the Legislative Council to deal with disputes over election results. Separate Committees of Elections and Qualifications, comprising members of both the Council and the Assembly, were established by the Act of 1856.
The Committee of Elections and Qualifications for the Assembly was superseded by the Court of Disputed Returns (the Supreme Court) in 1934 (Act No.4278). The Committee in the Council continued until 1961 when the Court of Disputed Returns gained jurisdiction (Act No.6764).
GOLDFIELDS ADMINISTRATION AND MINING 1855-1860
The Chief Secretary was briefly responsible for this function before 1860 when a Commissioner of Mines (VRG 30) was first appointed and a Department of Mines (VA 2719) was established.
Historical Background to the Mines Function
Administration of the goldfields was based on a series of Goldfields Acts dating from 1853 when an Act for the better management of the Goldfields, 17 Vic., No.4, was passed. This Act provided for a system of mining leases and licences to be administered by the Commissioners of Crown Lands, who were also known as Goldfields Commissioners. Earlier legislation (e.g. the 1851 and 1852 Acts 15 Vic., No.15 and 17 Vic., No.1) had made provision for the Commissioners to regulate mining on "waste lands of the Crown". In 1855 the licensing system introduced in 1853 was replaced by a system of miners' rights administered by local courts which operated in designated districts, and had similar powers to a Court of Petty Sessions (18 Vic., No.37). Members of the courts were elected by holders of miners' rights in the district. These arrangements were further refined by the 1857 Act 20 Vic., No.32 which set up a more complex administrative and judicial structure within specified Mining Districts comprising Mining Boards, Mining Wardens and Courts of Mines.
NOTE: For more information about the history of this function, see VRG 30 Mines. For records of Mining Districts, see VRG 25.
Geological Survey 1858-1860
By 1855 the Geological Survey had been associated with the administration of public lands. It remained within the Lands portfolio (VRG 18) until 1858 when responsibility was transferred to the Chief Secretary's Department. In 1860 responsibility was transferred to the Department of Mines (VA 2719).
The Chief Secretary was responsible for public health matters from 1855 to 1890 when the first Minister of Health (VRG 39) was appointed, for hospitals and charities until 1923 when responsibility for this function passed to the Treasurer (VRG 23) and for mental health until 1944 when the Minister of Health became responsible for this area too.
Government medical services, including the medical treatment of infants, children and wards in the care of the Children's Welfare Department, prisoners and members of the police force; regulation and registration of health care professionals, and regulation of the preparation, sale and use of poisons and narcotic substances, also continued to be the responsibility of the Chief Secretary's Department until 1944.
In 1944 following the proclamation of the Ministry of Health Act 1943 (No.4988) there was a major re-organisation of the administration of the State's health services and the Department of Health (I) (VA 695) became responsible for maternal and child welfare and mental health as well as public health.
NOTE: For further information about the administration of the health functions for the period 1836-1989 see VRG 39 Health.
Public Health 1855-1890
Prior to the establishment of the Central Board of Health in 1855 under the provisions of the Public Health Act 1854 18 Vic., No.13, the Medical Department had consisted of the Chief Medical Officer, District Surgeons at Geelong, Williamstown, Portland, Belfast, Castlemaine, Sandhurst, Ballarat, Avoca, Beechworth, Kyneton and Kilmore, other medical staff who were based at Pentridge and the goldfields hospitals, the Secretary to the Medical Board and the Health Officer.
The Chief Medical Officer and the Medical Officers in Melbourne were responsible for immigrants from the time of their landing until their departure from the Immigration Depot, the police, and the officers and prisoners in gaols and stockades. In the seaport towns and the goldfields they were responsible for immigrants, police, military, prisoners and the gold commission. Immigrants who were seriously ill were treated at the Colonial Hospital at Batman's Hill.
The Health Officer, who was primarily concerned with quarantine, was Superintendent of the Sanitary Station which had been established in 1852 at Ticonderoga Bay, Point Nepean, until 1853 when he was transferred to Queenscliff and ordered to board every inward bound ship and ascertain the state of health of its passengers and crew and where necessary to place the ship in quarantine.
In 1855, under the provisions of the Public Health Act 1854 18 Vic., No.13 the Central Board of Health which was located within the Chief Secretary's Department was established and William McCrea, the Chief Medical Officer became its first chairman. The Chief Secretary continued to be responsible for the administration of the Public Health Acts until 1890 when a Minister of Health was appointed and a Department of Public Health (VA 2904) was established. The Central Board was then replaced by the Board of Public Health.
* The functions associated with the administration of Public Health included:
* the control and prevention of infectious and contagious diseases
* establishing and enforcing standards of proper sanitation including waste disposal and collection and prevention of pollution
* regulation of offensive and dangerous trades
* establishing and enforcing standards for public buildings and dwelling houses and for the prevention of fires
* registration and control of boarding houses and other accommodation venues and of premises where food was consumed
* regulation of the preparation and sale of foods, poisons and narcotic substances
* supervision of abattoirs and milk production
* infant welfare and the vaccination, later immunisation, of children
* administration of municipal or district hospitals
* registration of private hospitals
* care and treatment of patients suffering from tuberculosis, or cancer
* registration of plumbers and gasfitters
* registration of health care professionals such as doctors, dentists, pharmacists, opticians, optometrists and dietitians.
From the 1850's the municipalities (VRG 12) also had a very significant role in the administration of many of the public health functions.
Hospitals and Charities to 1923
The Chief Secretary was also responsible for the administration of the Hospitals and Charitable Institutions Acts until 1923 when, following the proclamation of the Hospitals and Charities Act 1922 (No.3260) and the establishment of the Charities Board of Victoria (VA 2707), the Treasurer (VRG 23) became responsible.
The earlier legislation had provided for the incorporation of any institution, society or association which had been established with the object of saving human life, promoting health, temperance or morality, preventing cruelty or vice or for other philanthropic or humane purposes and which was funded in whole or in part by voluntary contributions. Such institutions were to be governed by Committees or Boards of Directors elected by contributors. Many of these institutions received financial assistance from the Government and by 1882 an Inspector of Industrial and Reformatory Schools and Public Charities had been appointed within the Chief Secretary's Department. In 1895 the Inspector of Charities was transferred to the Department of the Treasurer (VA 865).
Mental Health 1855-1944
The Chief Secretary's Department was responsible for the administration of mental health from 1856 until 1944.
In summary, the functions associated with the administration of mental health were:
* care and treatment of psychiatrically ill patients
* registration, supervision and administration of institutions providing psychiatric care
* care of intellectually disabled children and adults
* registration, supervision and administration of institutions caring for the intellectually disabled
* care and treatment of alcoholics and drug dependent persons.
For information about the administration of mental health for the period 1856 to 1944 see VRG 39 Health and the Inventory of Series entries for the following sub departments of the Chief Secretary's Department:
* Hospitals for the Insane Branch
* Lunacy Department
* Department of Mental Hygiene
In 1944 following the proclamation of the Ministry of Health Act 1943 (No.4988) there was a major re-organisation of the administration of the State's health services and the Minister of Health became responsible for public health, maternal and child welfare, mental health and hospitals and charities. For further information about the administration of these functions for the period 1836 to 1989 see VRG 39 Health and for records of the institutions see VRG 8 Health and Welfare Agencies.
IMMIGRATION 1900-1904 AND 1947-1971
Pre-Federation control and regulation of British and alien (non-British or foreign) immigration, naturalisation, administration of assisted migration and nomination schemes, as well as associated reception, settlement and welfare services, had been the responsibility of the Department of Trade and Customs (VA 606) and prior to 1851 of the Police Magistrate (VA 472) and Superintendent (VA 473) of the Port Phillip District. At Federation, responsibility for alien immigration control and regulation passed to the Commonwealth (VRG 87). However, although the Commonwealth (VRG 87) had been granted powers with respect to alien immigration control and naturalisation in 1901, the Chief Secretary's Department appears to have assumed responsibility for the functions from the Department of Trade and Customs (VA 606) in December 1900 and passed it to the Commonwealth circa 1904.
The State through the Commissioner for Public Works (VRG 28), continued to monitor migrant arrivals and departures until 1923 when this responsibility also passed to the Commonwealth (VRG 87).
Administration of assisted British migration and nomination schemes continued to be a state responsibility until 1983 when it was taken over by the Commonwealth. Migrant reception, settlement and welfare services were associated with this function. The schemes flourished in the period prior to 1873, between 1906 and 1918 under the Commissioner of Crown Lands (VRG 18), from 1918 to 1923 under the Minister for Labour (VRG 42), from 1923 to 30 under the first Minister of Immigration (VRG 44), and in the post-World War II period, but were suspended during periods of economic depression and during World War II.
When assisted immigration from Britain resumed in 1947, the Chief Secretary's Department was responsible for its administration in Victoria.
Substantial numbers of migrants were brought to Victoria under the provisions of various migration schemes and agreements including the United Kingdom Free and Assisted Passenger Agreements 1946, Child Migration Scheme from 1947, Empire and Allied Ex-Servicemen's Scheme from 1947, a 1947 agreement between the Commonwealth Government and the International Refugee Organisation facilitating the settlement of European displaced persons, and later agreements between the Commonwealth and various European countries.
Under these agreements, primary responsibility for immigration was taken by the Commonwealth but, following the Premier's Conference of 1946, the State accepted responsibility for,
* granting financial assistance to voluntary organizations which were providing accommodation and maintenance for children brought out under the Child Migration Scheme
* processing personal nominations of British migrants made by residents of Victoria and group nominations designed to promote recruitment of particular categories of workers
* providing post-arrival services to nominated British migrants including their reception, transit accommodation, travel and aftercare, although the care of migrants who had been sponsored by residents of the State was the responsibility of those who had nominated them.
Although the provision of assistance to un-nominated British migrants and to non-British migrants was largely the responsibility of the Commonwealth at this time, the State would, on request from the Commonwealth, assist these migrants also.
Between 1946 and 1950 the Chief Secretary was responsible for ensuring that the State's obligations under these agreements were met. In 1950 a Minister of Immigration (VRG 90) was appointed and became responsible for these functions. However, a branch of the Chief Secretary's Department, known as the State Immigration Office, continued to have operational responsibility in this area until the establishment of an Immigration Division within the Department of State Development (VA 552) in 1971.
NOTE: For a brief history of the administration of immigration from 1836 to 1983, see VRG 68 Immigration and Ethnic Affairs.
LABOUR AND INDUSTRY TO 1916
Government regulation of conditions of employment including wages, hours of work, leave, and the employment of children and young people, developed within the Chief Secretary's portfolio in the latter part of the 19th Century.
In 1885 the Factories Office was established within the Chief Secretary's Department to inspect and regulate factory conditions and control shop hours. Industrial health, safety and welfare were also a responsibility of the Chief Secretary. In 1896 the Wages Boards (VA 1010) were established to settle industrial disputes and to fix wages and other conditions of employment. Separate Boards covered different trades and from 1903 appeals were heard by the Industrial Appeals Court (VA 1011).
In 1900 a Minister of Labour was appointed however until 1916, when the first Department of Labour (VA 2874) was established, the Factories Office operated within the Chief Secretary's Department.
LIBRARIES AND GALLERIES 1855-1972/3, MUSEUMS 1855-1976
Libraries, galleries and museums, together with other agencies concerned with the Arts, were grouped in the Chief Secretary's portfolio from 1855. In 1972 when a Minister of Arts (VRG 61) was first appointed, the galleries were transferred to the Arts portfolio, libraries following in 1973 and museums in 1976.
Early institutions in the Colony were the Melbourne Public Library established in the 1840's, the Museum of Natural History in 1854, and the Museum of Art in 1860, administered by the Trustees of the Melbourne Public Library and the Fine Arts Commission (1863-1869).
In 1870, under the provisions of the Library Museums and National Gallery Act 1869 33 Vic., No.357, the Public Library of Victoria, the Industrial and Technological Museum, and National Gallery of Victoria replaced the earlier institutions. The Trustees of the Public Library, Museums and National Gallery of Victoria were appointed to administer them, this joint administration continuing until 1944.
In 1945 the Industrial and Technological Museum became the Museum of Applied Science, which in turn became the Institute of Applied Science in 1961, and in 1971 the Science Museum of Victoria. In 1961 the Public Library became the State Library of Victoria (VA 2923) under the State Library, National Gallery, National Museum and Institute of Applied Science Act 1960. From 1971 the Science Museum and National Museum were amalgamated to form the Museum of Victoria.
From 1944 all these institutions were administered by Trustees separately appointed for each body and later by Councils - for example the Library Council of Victoria from 1966, the Council of the Trustees of the National Gallery of Victoria from 1966, the National Museum of Victoria and Science Museum of Victoria Councils from 1971. However the building which they jointly occupied was administered by a separately constituted group of Buildings Trustees from 1944 to 1983 when the Library Council of Victoria took over this role. This Council also took over the functions of the Free Library Service Board which operated from 1946 to 1965.
LIQUOR LICENSING 1870-1979
Further research is required to clarify fully the references to publicans' licences in the Chief Secretary's records. However it is certain that from 1870 onwards Clerks of Courts forwarded to the Chief Secretary lists of applicants approved by the Licensing Magistrates for special leave to hold private dancing or theatrical concerts within licensed premises.
Between 1907 and 1968 the Chief Secretary had administrative responsibility for the Licences Reduction Board (VA 2906) a body specially established to oversee the orderly reduction of hotel licences in Victoria. Further research is required to establish the extent of control which the Chief Secretary had over this function.
After 1968 and the cessation of the system of Licensing Courts and Licensing Magistrates, the newly established Liquor Control Commission (VA 1110) became the responsibility of the Chief Secretary. The Commission had authority over all aspects of liquor licensing and control. In 1979 responsibility for liquor licensing passed to the Minister of Labour and Industry (VRG 42).
NOTE: For a brief account of the administrative history of liquor licensing see VRG 4 Courts for the period 1836-1968 and VRG 82 Industry, Commerce and Technology for the period 1968 to the present.
THEATRE LICENCES FROM 1855
The Chief Secretary had responsibility for the administration of theatrical licences from 1855 until at least the early 20th century.
Under the provisions of the 1850 Act 14 Vic., No.23 and the 1865 Licensed Theatres Statute 28 Vic., No.252, all arts, performances and representations performed for hire or gain or to which admission was charged were required to obtain written authority or licence from the Chief Secretary.
POLICE AND EMERGENCY SERVICES 1855-1979
The Chief Secretary inherited responsibility for the Chief Commissioner of Police and Victoria Police Force (VA 724) from the Colonial Secretary (VRG 16) in 1855 and the maintenance of law and order continued to be one of the prime responsibilities of the Department until 1979 when a Ministry for Police and Emergency Services (VA 421) was established.
Victoria Police Force
The position of Chief Commissioner of Police dates from 1853 when a single integrated Victorian Police Force was formed under the Police Regulation Act 1853 16 Vic., No.24. Prior to that time there were, in addition to the local constabulary attached to Police Magistrates, a number of special police forces, including the Melbourne City Police, Border Police, Mounted Police, Water Police, Native Police, Gold Escort and Goldfields Police. In regard to its general law enforcement and policing duties, the Victoria Police has operated since 1853 on a District basis. The Office of Chief Commissioner has provided central control, supervision, administration and co-ordination for the Force, its members and operations, while administrative assistance has also been provided by public service officers. Before the establishment of the Ministry for Police and Emergency Services (VA 421) in 1979, these public servants belonged to the Police Branch or Police Department of the Chief Secretary's Department. The Force also comprises the Criminal Investigation Branch, which has operated since 1936 on a regionalised basis and includes the Information Bureau, Fingerprint Bureau, the Homicide Squad, Armed Robbery Squad and so on, as well as a range of other special purpose units, for example the Licensing and Gaming Squad, Forensic Science Laboratory, Police Air Wing and D24, the Force's Communication Control Centre.
NOTE: For more information about the Victoria Police Force, its history and records, see VRG 10 Police.
Road Safety, Traffic Management, Motor Registration and Driver Licensing
From the early 1900's police duties included traffic control at intersections. The Motor Police, equipped with bicycles, was formed in 1912 with duties including motor registration and driver licensing. By 1921 the Traffic Control Branch (from 1971 Traffic Department) and Motor Registration Branch (VA 488) had been established. The role of the police in road safety and traffic operations, and of the Motor Registration Branch were set down in a series of Transport. Transport Regulation, Road Traffic and Motor Registration Acts. From the mid 1950's their responsibilities for road safety and traffic control were greatly increased and a prevention and educational role emerged. The Road Courtesy and Accident Appreciation/Investigation Squads date from this period. In 1978 the operational wing of the Traffic Department, the Traffic Operations Group (formerly the Mobile Traffic Section) was regionalised.
The Chief Secretary was also responsible from 1971 for co-ordinating traffic management, prevention and reporting of road accidents and promoting road safety. Previously the responsibility of the Country Roads Board (VA 722) under the Minister for Local Government (VRG 57), road safety and traffic management became the responsibility of the newly formed Road Safety and Traffic Authority (VA 487) within the Chief Secretary's Department. The Authority later became part of the Ministry for Police and Emergency Services (VA 421) and responsibility for co-ordinating traffic management and road safety now rests with the Minister of Transport (VRG 49). The motor registration and driver licensing functions also passed to the Ministry for Police and Emergency Services in 1979 and subsequently to the Ministry of Transport in 1981.
Other Emergency Services
The Chief Secretary also had responsibility, at least from 1890, for fire prevention and protection and, more recently, for the co-ordination of emergency services. Prior to 1890 when the Metropolitan Fire Brigade Board and Country Fire Brigades Board (since 1944 the Country Fire Authority (Act No.5040)) were formed under the Fire Brigades Act 54 Vic., No.1200, municipalities were mainly responsible for fire prevention and protection in their areas. The origins of the State Emergency Service, formed in 1976, lie in the Chief Secretary's Department's role in civil defence. The Chief Secretary's fire prevention and protection and emergency services responsibilities were also inherited by the Minister for Police and Emergency Services (VRG 73) in 1979.
PRISONS AND SOCIAL WELFARE 1855-1970
Among the Chief Secretary's primary responsibilities from 1855 to 1970 were the prison system and associated social control and welfare programs which were to evolve into the correctional and community welfare services programs of the 1970's and 1980's.
In 1855 the Chief Secretary assumed responsibility for the administration of penal establishments from the Colonial Secretary (VRG 16). The Sheriff also had responsibility for gaols until 1871. Thus from 1855 to 1871 the Chief Secretary and the Attorney-General (VRG 19) shared responsibility for prisons. From 1871 to 1960 the Penal and Gaols Branch (VA 1464) of the Chief Secretary's Department took on sole responsibility for prisons administration. Reformatory prisons and a more formal probation and parole system were introduced from 1908 under the Indeterminate Sentences Acts 1908 and 1915 (Nos.2106 and 2758). The probation and parole system was administered jointly by the Branch and the Indeterminate Sentences Board. The system underwent major reform in 1957 under the provisions of the Penal Reform Act 1956 (No.5961) which replaced the Indeterminate Sentences Board with the Parole Board.
In early times prisons held, in addition to criminal offenders, debtors, lunatics, the old and destitute, and neglected children. From 1864 neglected children and juvenile offenders were separately provided for under the Neglected and Criminal Childrens Act (No.216) which established a system of industrial and reformatory schools which came to be administered by the Department of Industrial and Reformatory Schools (VA 1466). From 1887 to 1954 the administration of industrial and reformatory schools was split under the provisions of the Neglected Children's Act 1887 (No.941) and the Juvenile Offenders Act 1887 (No.951); the Department of Neglected Children, from 1924 the Children's Welfare Department (VA 1467), assuming responsibility for industrial schools, and the Department of Reformatory Schools (VA 2963) for those institutions. Both were sub-departments of the Chief Secretary's Department. From 1954 the responsibilities of the Department of Reformatory Schools were administered by the Child Welfare Department.
Gradually the notion of children's welfare emerged. The Chief Secretary was responsible for the registration of private homes for the purpose of maintaining, nursing, and later adopting out infants under Infant Life Protection legislative provisions from 1907, the provision of financial assistance towards child maintenance from 1919, the administration of the Children's Welfare Act 1924, the regulation of adoption from 1928, employment conditions for children from 1928, and guardianship of child migrants from 1952.
By the 1950's the emphasis was shifting away from the control of social problems to prevention, the concept of social welfare was emerging and family and children's welfare programs were being developed to address community needs. From 1960 responsibility for these programs, prison administration and the probation and parole system was vested in the Social Welfare Branch of the Chief Secretary's Department (VA 2784), established by the Social Welfare Act (No.6651). During the 1960's the welfare programs of the Branch expanded and resources were also allocated to social policy development, social planning and research on social issues. In 1970 a Minister for Social Welfare (VRG 60) was appointed and the Social Welfare Department (VA 946) was established in 1971 under the provisions of the Social Welfare Act 1970 (No.8089).
There followed in the 1970's a major review and redefinition of the Government's policy and priorities in the administration of social welfare and correctional services, leading in 1978 to the passage of the Community Welfare Services Act (No.9248), which aimed to introduce community-oriented and needs-based welfare services.
Administration of Prisons Prior to 1871
The establishment and regulation of gaols was originally governed by the provisions of two New South Wales Acts, the first being An Act... for establishing Houses of Corrections 1828. This Act was largely repealed in 1849 by An Act for the regulation of Gaols 4 Vic., No.29. This Act conferred upon the Sheriff of New South Wales the control of all prisoners in the gaols and provided for the appointment of a Deputy Sheriff for the Port Phillip District.
The law in Victoria was subsequently codified in 1853 by An Act to make provision for the better control and disposal of offenders 16 Vic., No.32. Under the provisions of this Act the Lieutenant Governor could by proclamation establish public gaols, prisons, houses of correction, penal establishments and prison hulks which were to be maintained at public expense. Section V of the Act provided that these institutions were "to be under the charge, care and direction of the Sheriff of the Colony of Victoria and such other officer as the Lieutenant Governor shall appoint".
Under the provisions of the Statute of Gaols 1864 (No.219) sections 3 to 7, the Governor-in-Council could establish penal establishments, being places "at which male offenders under any sentence of detention with hard labour on public works shall be detained", gaols, which were also to be houses of correction and prisons for debtors, and prison hulks. All gaols and hulks were to be under "the charge, care and direction of the Sheriff of Victoria (or if within a circuit district, of the sheriff of such circuit district) or such other officer as the Governor-in-Council might appoint".
In 1871, following a Royal Commission on Penal and Prison Discipline (see Papers Presented to Parliament, Session 1871, Volume 3) the Statute of Gaols 1864 was amended and the Inspector of Penal Establishments became responsible for the supervision of all prisons (See the Statute of Gaols Amendment Act 1871 (No.397)).
Prior to the legislative change in 1871, responsibility for the administration of prisons appears to have been divided between the Attorney General (VRG 19) and the Chief Secretary (VRG 26). The Civil Establishment lists and Appropriation Acts show the sheriffs as being responsible to the Attorney-General, while the officers and staff of the gaols and penal establishments, including those appointed by the Sheriff, were located in the Chief Secretary's Department. Until 1871, there were separate departments for Gaols and Penal Establishments including the prison hulks, but subsequently there was a single Penal and Gaols Branch (VA 1464) which included the staff of all penal establishments and gaols.
The 1864 Act has also provided for the establishment of police lockups under the direction of the Chief Commissioner of Police (VA 724). Some of these were subsequently proclaimed Police Gaols and used for the detention of prisoners awaiting trial or transfer and those sentenced to less than thirty one days.
Establishment of the Penal and Gaols Branch 1871-1960
The Penal and Gaols Branch, Chief Secretary's Department (VA 1464) was administered by the Inspector General of Penal Establishments, who was known, from 1956, as the Director of Penal Services.
The Penal and Gaols Branch was responsible for the administration and management of Victorian gaols and penal establishments which had originally been defined in the Statute of Gaols 1864 as being places for the detention of male offenders under any sentence of hard labour on public works. Gaols were originally used for the detention of prisoners not sentenced to hard labour, but prisoners not contributing to their own maintenance could be required to work. In addition to criminal offenders, gaols also held debtors, lunatics and the old and the destitute who had been convicted of vagrancy.
In time the distinction between the two classes of institution became less clear; offenders sentenced to hard labour were held in gaols; a women's division was established at Pentridge (VA 863); separate institutions were established for the psychiatrically ill, neglected children, and juvenile offenders and particular gaols tended to hold a high proportion of old and infirm poor who had been imprisoned for having no visible means of support.
From 1908, the Branch was also responsible for reformatory prisons and a system of probation established under the provisions of the Indeterminate Sentences Act 1907 (No.2106). Administration of this Act was undertaken in conjunction with the Indeterminate Sentences Board from 1908 to 1957. Under this scheme, offenders who had been convicted on indictment, could be given an indeterminate reformatory sentence either as an alternative to a fixed term or on expiration of such a term and prisoners were detained at the Governor's pleasure until they had demonstrated that they were eligible for release on probation.
In 1915, under the provisions of the Indeterminate Sentences Act (No.2758) the Board was given the power to grant temporary release to prisoners to test their reform. This temporary release was known as parole and was usually granted for six months. If the prisoner met the requirements of parole, a recommendation for release on probation was made and the period of probation was usually two years.
Reformatory prisons and the Indeterminate Sentences Board were abolished in 1957 under the provisions of the Penal Reform Act 1956 (No.5961) and, in conjunction with the Parole Board, the Penal and Gaols Branch became responsible for the administration of the parole system established by the Act.
Juvenile Offenders and Neglected Children 1864-1960
Prior to 1864 children under the age of nineteen convicted of crime could be dealt with under the 1849 Criminal Law (Infants) Act 13 Vic., No.21 and assigned by the court to persons willing to undertake their "maintenance and education". In 1857 a Select Committee of Inquiry upon Penal Discipline (see Papers Presented to Parliament, 1856-57, volume 3) was very critical of the confinement of destitute orphans and young offenders in the colony's gaols and recommended that separate institutions be established. By 1863, it appears that many children in care were being housed by the Immigrants Aid Society.
In 1864, under the provisions of the Neglected and Criminal Children's Act (No.216), industrial schools for neglected children and reformatory schools for juvenile offenders were established and in 1866 George W. Duncan was appointed as the Inspector of Industrial Schools (a post which seems to have comprehended responsibility for reformatory schools also). By 1876 this office, which was located in the Chief Secretary's Department, was known as the Department of Industrial and Reformatory Schools (VA 1466).
In 1887, following the proclamation of the Neglected Children's Act (No.941) and the Juvenile Offenders Act (No.951), responsibility for neglected children was assumed by the Department for Neglected Children which in 1924 became the Children's Welfare Department (VA 1467), and a Department for Reformatory Schools (VA 2963) assumed responsibility for convicted juveniles. Although responsibility was statutorily separated, it is evident that both sub-departments continued to be administered jointly within the Chief Secretary's Department. In 1954 under the provisions of the Children's Welfare Act (No.5817), responsibility for juvenile offenders was officially transferred to the Children's Welfare Department.
Establishment of the Social Welfare Branch 1960-1971
In 1960 under the provisions of the Social Welfare Act (No.6651) the Social Welfare Branch (VA 2784) was established within the Chief Secretary's Department. The Branch assumed responsibility for functions previously administered by the Penal and Gaols Branch (VA 1464) and the Children's Welfare Department (VA 1467).
The Branch came to be responsible for the following family and youth welfare services:
* promotion and development of family welfare
* co-ordination of voluntary organizations, government departments, and persons concerned with the 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
* administration of remand centres, youth training centres and youth hostels
* provision of youth welfare services, including work-release programs and community service activities.
It also developed social welfare policy, researched social issues, and took responsibility for training and certifying social and welfare workers, child care and youth workers, and prison and probationary officers. A Prisons Division was established within the Branch, and under section 16 of the Act, was responsible for the control and supervision of all persons imprisoned or detained in any gaol and for assisting in the rehabilitation into the community of all persons released or discharged from any gaol.
Responsibility for functions relating to probation and parole was assumed by the Probation and Parole Division of the Social Welfare Branch and was administered in liaison with the Adult and Youth Parole Boards, Children's Court probation services having been transferred from the Law Department (VA 2825) in 1960.
Establishment of the Social Welfare Department 1971
In 1970 a Minister for Social Welfare (VRG 60) was appointed and under the provisions of the Social Welfare Act 1970 (No.8089) which came into operation on 5 January 1971, the Social Welfare Branch was reconstituted as the Social Welfare Department (VA 946).
NOTE For more information about the history of the prisons and correctional services and community welfare services functions, see VRG 93 Corrections and VRG 60 Community Welfare Services. For records of prisons and correctional institutions, see VRG 9 Prisons and Youth Training Institutions.
PUBLIC RECORDS 1973-1978
The Public Record Office (VA 683), which was established in the Chief Secretary's portfolio under the Public Records Act 1973, took over the archives role of the Archives Division of the State Library of Victoria (VA 2923) and responsibility for the management and disposal of Victoria's public records.
ROYAL BOTANIC GARDENS AND HERBARIUM
Responsibility for the Royal Botanic Gardens, established in 1849, and the Government Botanist/Herbarium was shared by a number of departments, including the Chief Secretary's as follows:
1855-1868 Chief Secretary's Department (VA 475)
1868-1870 Department of Crown Lands and Survey (VA 538)
1870-1873 Chief Secretary's Department (VA 475)
1873-1874 Department of Agriculture (VA 618).
From 1874 the Botanic Gardens were part of the Department of Crown Lands and Survey (VA 538), and from 1983 part of the Department for Conservation, Forests and Lands (VA 1034). In 1925 the Government Botanist and the Herbarium also became part of the Department of Crown Lands and Survey. However between 1874 and 1925 they were in turn part of the following departments:
1874-1903 Chief Secretary's Department (VA 475)
1903-1913 Department of Agriculture (VA 618)
1913-1925 Chief Secretary's Department (VA 475).
SPORT, RECREATION, RACING AND GAMING TO 1972
In 1972 a Minister of Youth, Sport and Recreation (VRG 66) was appointed. The formation of the new Ministry reflected increased State Government interest in an area previously largely the concern municipalities and of non-government agencies. The Minister also inherited responsibility for a number of functions traditionally associated with the Chief Secretary's portfolio, in particular the regulation and control of sporting and gaming activities such as racing and professional boxing. The Chief Secretary was responsible until 1972 for administering the provisions of the Racing Act 1958 and until 1979 for the Lotteries, Gaming and Betting Act 1966, under which the Raffles and Bingo Permits Board operates. The Raffles and Bingo Permits Board passed first to the Attorney-General's portfolio (VRG 19) in 1979, then to Youth, Sport and Recreation (VRG 66) in 1983.
The National Fitness Council had also been established in the Chief Secretary's portfolio to promote fitness and general health and this responsibility also passed in 1972 to the new Minister for Youth, Sport and Recreation.
The Chief Secretary also exercised responsibility for a diverse range of other functions and agencies. Further research is required on a number of functions and agencies.
Function/Agency: Chinese Interpreters and Scribes
Dates Chief Secretary Responsible: to 1861
Other Responsible Minister/Agency: Attorney-General (VRG 19), Law Department (VA 2825) from 1861
Function/Agency: Crimes Compensation Tribunal
Dates Chief Secretary Responsible: 1972-1979
Other Responsible Minister/Agency: Attorney-General (VRG 19) from 1979
Dates Chief Secretary Responsible: 1901-1965
Other Responsible Minister/Agency: Trade and Customs (VRG 22), Department of Trade and Customs (VA 606) 1851-1901, Mines (VRG 30), Mines Department (VA 612) from 1965
Function/Agency: Fisheries and Wildlife
Dates Chief Secretary Responsible: 1913-1973
Other Responsible Minister/Agency: Agriculture (VRG 34), Department of Agriculture VA 618) to 1913, Conservation (VRG 55), Ministry for Conservation (VA 551) from 1973
Function/Agency: Government Shorthand Writers
Dates Chief Secretary Responsible: to 1979
Other Responsible Minister/Agency: Attorney-General (VRG 19), Attorney General's Department (VA 2825) from 1979
Function/Agency: Land Tax
Dates Chief Secretary Responsible: to 1884
Other Responsible Minister/Agency: Crown Lands and Survey (VRG 18), Crown Lands and Survey Department (VA 538) from 1884
Function/Agency: Mercantile Marine Office and Marine Board of Victoria (VA 1424)
Dates Chief Secretary Responsible: 1901-1927
Other Responsible Minister/Agency: Trade and Customs (VRG 22), Trade and Customs Department (VA 606) to 1901, Public Works (VRG 28), Public Works Department (VA 669) from 1927
Function/Agency: Motor Accident Board (VA 1055)
Dates Chief Secretary Responsible: 1973-1979
Other Responsible Minister/Agency: Labour and Industry (VRG 42) from 1979
Function/Agency: Motor Accident Tribunal
Dates Chief Secretary Responsible: 1973-1979
Other Responsible Minister/Agency: Attorney-General (VRG 19) from 1979
Function/Agency: Royal Melbourne Zoo
Dates Chief Secretary Responsible: to 1973
Other Responsible Minister/Agency: Conservation (VRG 55), Ministry for Conservation (VA 551) from 1973
Function/Agency: State Classification of Publications Board
Dates Chief Secretary Responsible: to 1979
Other Responsible Minister/Agency: Attorney-General (VRG 19) from 1979
Function/Agency: State Insurance Office (VA 1033) its predecessor State Motor Car Insurance Office (VA 2893) 1941-1975 and State Accident Insurance Office
Dates Chief Secretary Responsible: to 1979
Other Responsible Minister/Agency: Treasurer (VRG 23); Department of the Treasurer (VA 865) from 1979
Dates Chief Secretary Responsible: to 1960
Other Responsible Minister/Agency: Local Government (VRG 57), Local Government Department (VA 601) from 1960
Function/Agency: Victorian Archaeological Survey
Dates Chief Secretary Responsible: to 1975
Other Responsible Minister/Agency: Conservation (VRG 55), Ministry of Conservation (VA 551) from 1975
Function/Agency: Weights and Measures
Dates Chief Secretary Responsible: to 1965
Other Responsible Minister/Agency: Local Government (VRG 57) and Local Government Department (VA 601) from 1965
Function/Agency: Workers Compensation
Dates Chief Secretary Responsible: To 1978
Other Responsible Minister/Agency: Labour And Industry (VRG 42) From 1978
LOCATION OF RECORDS
There are extensive holdings of Chief Secretary's records at the Public Record Office. For much of the early part of its history the portfolio acted in a co-ordinating role for government business - in a similar way to the Premier's today. The Chief Secretary's records are therefore a rich source of information about government activities generally as well as about those functions for which the Chief Secretary was specifically responsible.
Entries for the other Departments of State which date from 1855 or earlier should also be consulted, together with entries for the Departments which inherited functional responsibilities from the Chief Secretary's Department, and entries for related Non-Ministerial Groups.
The other Departments which date from 1855 or earlier are those of the main Colonial Officials who became Ministers in the years immediately following self-government, namely:
Department of Crown Lands and Survey (and its predecessors)
Attorney General's Department (previously the Law Department)
Department of Trade and Customs
Department of the Treasurer
Public Works Department
The main inheriting Departments were:
Department of Mines
Department of Agriculture
Department of Public Health
Department of Health I
Department of Labour I
Social Welfare Department
Ministry for the Arts
Department of Youth Sport and Recreation
Department of Property and Services
Ministry for Police and Emergency Services
Department of State Development
The most closely related Non-Ministerial Groups are:
Health and Welfare Agencies
Prisons and Youth Training Centres
See also List of Holdings 2nd edition 1985, sections
3.16.5 for Chief Secretary's Department records,
3.3.0 (libraries, galleries and museums),
3.4.0 (prisons and gaols),
3.5.0 (welfare services),
3.6.0 (fisheries, wildlife and zoos),
3.9.0 (labour and industry, Factories Office, Wages Boards, Industrial Appeal Court),
3.11.0 (public health, mental health),
3.18.0 (census and statistics; births, deaths and marriages; Public Record Office; State Electoral Office),
3.20.0 (sport, recreation, racing and gaming),
3.22.0 (Registrar-General), 5.0.0 (educational institutions),
8.0.0 (health and welfare agencies), 12.0.0 (police operational units),
13.0.0 (prisons and correctional institutions),
16.5.0 (Aboriginal Affairs records - note that many are presumed to have passed to the Commonwealth in 1975 and may now be held by Australian Archives, Victorian Branch).