Series VPRS 4978
Registered Persons Homes Register
About this Series Related Series Accessing the records in this Series
Date Range: Series 1908 - ? 1964
  Series in Custody 1908 - 1964
  Contents 1908 - 1964
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
1908 - 1960 Children's Welfare Department 1924-1961 (previously known as Department for Neglected Children 1887-1924), Chief Secretary's Department VA 1467
1960 - 1964 Social Welfare Branch, Chief Secretary's Department VA 2784
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
    Refer to the list of records in this series.

  • Function / Content
    This series commenced in 1908, when the responsibility for administration and regulation of homes and persons was transferred to the Department for Neglected Children, Chief Secretary's Department. The register continued to be used until 1964, when the passing of the Adoption of Children Act changed the way in which children unable to be cared for by the birth parents were cared.

    Since the 1870s there had been mounting public concern about the fate of infants placed with paid nurses, sometimes referred to as 'baby farmers', and in 1883 an amendment to the Public Health Act placed the monitoring of such arrangements under the control of Local Health Boards. These local boards of health became responsible for the registration of premises and persons other than parents, relatives or guardians who were responsible for the care of infants.

    The boards were required to maintain a register of premises and those responsible for the care of infants were to keep a register and to notify the coroner or a justice of the peace of the death of any child in their care.

    In 1890, under the provisions of the Infant Life Protection Act 1890, the Chief Commissioner of Police assumed responsibility for the registration of homes used for the purpose of nursing or maintaining infants, that is, taking charge of a child under two years of age 'for the purpose of maintaining such infant for a longer period than three consecutive days' or 'for the purpose of adopting such infant'. The clause referring to adoption was intended to regulate the work of people who brokered adoptions by taking charge of surrendered infants and matching them with adoptive parents for a fee. At this time, there was no law providing for an adoption to be recognised in law and it was not unusual for informal adoptions to be negotiated through 'baby farmers'.

    In 1907 a subsequent Infant Life Protection Act extended the definition of infants from that in the 1890 Act, to include all children under five years of age, and also transferred the administration of infant life protection measures from the Local Health Boards, to the Chief Secretary and the Department for Neglected Children, later known as the Children's Welfare Department in the Chief Secretary's Department. The passing of the Infant Life Protection Act 1907 (No.2102) was partly in response to concerns about 'baby farming'. The Act required parents to register voluntary foster placements with the Neglected Children's Department and pay for the upkeep of the child or risk the child becoming a ward of the state. Registered carers also became subject to inspection. The Infant Life Protection Act 1915 was a re-enactment of the 1907 provisions, and was consolidated in the Children's Welfare Act 1928. The renaming of the Neglected Children's Department signified the Government's awareness of the stigma which had become attached to the term 'neglected child', and did not reflect a change in functional responsibility or status. Under the Children's Maintenance Act 1919, mothers without sufficient means of support could apply to the Department for financial assistance toward the maintenance of their children, rather than have the children committed to the Department's care.

    The spine of the volume is marked Infant Life Protection Act, and Register of Nurses in Homes. An alphabetical index by surname of Names of Registered Persons is located at the front of the volume. Entries in the index refer to a corresponding folio number in the body of the volume, where more detailed information appears in relation to the applicant. Entries are arranged numerically by application number and registration or renewal date, on the left-hand folio page. Some entries note the date of an inspection of the premises for the purposes of renewal of the registration. There are several entries noting where an application may have been refused or withdrawn, or the registration had ceased, or cases where a child originally placed with the applicant had been placed elsewhere.

    The folio pages are divided into two sections. On the left hand side folio, under the heading 'Registered Persons' , column sub-headings record the registration details: Number of Application, Date of Registration or Renewal, Name, Condition (single, married, or widow), Occupation of Applicant or of Husband if married, Age, Religion, and Age and Sexes of Applicant's own Children (if any). The right-hand folio page is headed 'Registered Houses' with column sub-headings: Locality, Street and Number, Number of Rooms, Number of Bedrooms, Number of Persons living in House, Reference to Register of Infants, and Remarks.

    The Reference to Register of Infants column refers to the collection of volumes providing an index to infants and children placed in Registered Homes [refer Infant Life Protection Registers - Applications to Board Out Infants: [VPRS 17823]

  • Recordkeeping System
    Registers are arranged chronologically by the date range covered. An alphabetical index by surname of "Names of Registered Persons" is located at the front of the volume.

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Consignment Number Contents Date Range Public Access No. of Units
P0000 1927 - 1964 Closed 1
P0001 1908 - 1929 Closed 2
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