Series VPRS 10092
Child Migration Files
About this Series Related Series Accessing the records in this Series
Date Range: Series ? 1947 - ? 1989
  Series in Custody ? 1947 - 1989
  Contents ? 1947 - 1990
Public Access: Closed
Location: North Melbourne
Format of Records: Physical
Agency which created this SeriesAgency which created this Series
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Date Range Agency Title Agency Number
1947 - 1961 Children's Welfare Department 1924-1961 (previously known as Department for Neglected Children 1887-1924), Chief Secretary's Department VA 1467
1961 - 1971 Social Welfare Branch, Chief Secretary's Department VA 2784
1971 - 1979 Social Welfare Department VA 946
1979 - 1985 Department of Community Welfare Services VA 613
1985 - 1989 Department of Community Services (also known as Community Services Victoria) VA 2633
Agency currently responsible for this SeriesAgency currently responsible for this Series
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Date Range Agency Title Agency Number
1996 - 2014 Department of Human Services VA 3970
2015 - cont Department of Health and Human Services VA 5037
Description of this SeriesDescription of this Series
  • How to use the Records
    Consult the list of records in this series.

  • Function / Content
    This series comprises files created by VA 1467 Children's Welfare Department of the Chief Secretary's Department and subsequent departments who took over responsibility for child migrants.

    Under the Commonwealth Immigration (Guardianship of Children) Act 1946-1973 an immigrant child was defined as any person under the age of 21 years who came to Australia as an immigrant otherwise than in the charge of, or for the purpose of living in Australia under the care of, any parent or relative of that person. The Act vested legal guardianship of immigrant children during their minority in the Commonwealth Minister for Immigration. The Commonwealth Minister for Immigration was empowered to delegate all his powers of legal guardianship to any officer or authority of a State with respect to immigrant children received in that State. Statutory Rules under the Act designated the Secretary of the Children's Welfare Department/Social Welfare Department of Victoria as the delegate.

    Legal guardianship continued until the minor reached majority (i.e. turned 21) or was exempted from the provisions of the Act under a discretionary right of the Minister or delegate. Exemptions were usually only granted if the minor was over the age of 18 years and the custodial arrangements of the nominator satisfied the Department. The Act provided for the legal guardian (i.e. the Department) to oversee custody of the minor and the estate of the minor and thus empowered the Department to make home visits, consent to the marriage of the minor and approve their transfer to another state or overseas. Custodians included individuals and welfare and religious organisations such as the Big Brother Movement, Dr Bernardos Homes and institutions run by the Salvation Army and the Catholic, Presbyterian, Anglican and Methodist churches.

    The nominator assumed responsibility for the welfare and care of the minor including custody, control, maintenance, education, training and employment. Custodians were required to notify the Department if the minor absconded, became seriously ill or died.

    The Department was also required to approve proposals from nominators for the care, custody, employment and accommodation of British minors and approve applications for landing permits with respect to alien minors referred from the Commonwealth Immigration Office.

    The files document both the assessment of applications to nominate British and alien minors and the subsequent administration of legal guardianship of those minors by the Children's Welfare Department/Family Welfare Division.

    Many of the files comprise standard forms used for processing applications to nominate a minor. Initial nomination applications were made to the Commonwealth Department of Immigration or to the State Immigration Office. Notification of the application was then forwarded to the Children's Welfare Department/Family Welfare Division which then sent a questionnaire to the applicant. On the basis of the applicants responses, the Department made an assessment of the application.

    Information gathered concerned: the nature of the relationship between the nominator and minor and whether the minor had relatives in Australia; the proposed arrangements for accommodation, employment, teaching of English and continuation of religious tradition, health of the minor, citizenship status of the nominator and whether the nominator understood the provisions of the Act. In some cases the assessment was not made until further information about the behaviour, character and living conditions of the nominator had been obtained from a Departmental inspection or police report.

    Following the assessment by the State, the Commonwealth was notified of the decision. This could be:

    - the nominator is suitable to accept custody of the minor (Recommendation)
    - the nominator and minor should be exempt from the provisions of the Act (Exemption)
    - the minor does not come within the provisions of the Act
    - the nominator is not suitable.

    Some cases relate to applications for nomination which lapsed, were withdrawn or which for some other reason were cancelled. Grounds for cancellation included the migrant having attained the age of 21, married or moved interstate and thus become the responsibility of another State. The Secretary of the Department could determine that the child migrant was under the guardianship of a relative, effectively in charge of their own affairs or no longer traceable.

    Files documenting the administration of legal guardianship include considerable personal data about minors and their custodians. Documentation on the files includes reports of social workers, parents, custodians, employers, vocational guidance officers, teachers and doctors which include detail about the character, behaviour and medical condition of minors as well as the character, behaviour, financial status and living conditions of custodians.

  • Recordkeeping System
    Although the majority of the files had been allocated a file number, the original system of arrangement and control is no longer clear since the files appear to have been registered within more than one recordkeeping system. There is no index to the files.

    In 1997, the files were arranged and listed by staff of the controlling agency, VA 3970 Department of Human Services. The Department entered the data into its own electronic archival control system and retrieves the files via free text searching. The Department of Human Services has provided PROV with a paper print out from this system identifying the files in this series.

    The majority of files appear to be arranged alphabetically by surname of nominee (child migrant) in several sequences by the year(s) in which legal guardianship ceased, e.g. ceased by 1956 or A-Z ceased 1956-1960.

    There are also some units such as 10092/P Unit 1 in which the files are arranged by category of decision on the application, e.g. 1952 Recommendations and 1952 Exemptions and then alphabetically by the surname of the nominator (custodian). The Records Description List indicates the basis of the arrangement of the files in each unit.

    Where the files are arranged by the surname of the nominee, the name of the nominator is also indicated. Similarly where files are arranged by the surname of the nominator, the name of the nominee is noted on the Records Description List.

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Consignment Number Contents Date Range Public Access No. of Units
P0000 ? 1948 - ? 1971 Closed 78
P0001 ? 1956 - ? 1971 Closed 3
P0002 ? 1947 - ? 1953 Closed 1
P0003 1970 - 1990 Closed 9
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