Many children whose time in residential, out of home care
was formally organised by the Department or who were admitted to Departmental
facilities will have some evidence of their placement on record in the
Department. The amount and quality of these records will vary. Sometimes, it
will be only a name in a register.
However, if the child’s placement was arranged by family,
or by family with the informal assistance of a Departmental officer (for
example, in the country or one of the suburban regions), no Departmental record
of that placement or contact may have been made. In that case, the person
should contact the agency where they were placed. The Historical Directory
provides contact details for all major agencies, even though some organisations
are no longer providing residential child care. In some cases, the agencies in
the non-Government sector will be able to find some records. In other cases,
such a search may be unsuccessful. All agencies, however, welcome such
enquiries and will do their best to discover whatever information could possibly
have been retained.
The non-Government residential child care sector has
always been under-resourced in terms of its management functions, and
record-keeping was not always given a high priority. Nor was it generally a
legal requirement and, though that changed over time, it is relatively recently
that comprehensive records have been kept.
In the Government sector it has generally always been a
requirement to note the admission and discharge details of each child into a
facility. However, many of these register entries are incomplete and/or
incorrect, and although the Department holds admission and discharge registers
for its assessment centres (ie. Government Receiving Home/Walcott Centre and
Bridgewater) most of the admissions and discharge registers for its other
facilities could not be found at the time of this project. The registers that
do exist have been compiled into an electronic, searchable index – the Children
in Care Index.
Children who were placed in Aboriginal Education Hostels
by their families were and are, not considered by the Department to be Children
in Care, so their names will not appear on that Index.
In the private agencies, many of the records that do
exist are in paper form, not indexed and therefore not able to be searched
electronically. It is intended to seek funding for a project to remedy this
situation in the near future, so as to make such records as do exist more
accessible. Limited indexes, generally developed from admission registers which
may themselves be incomplete, are available for most of the main private
(generally religious) agencies.
For former child migrants, the Department for Child Protection holds a comprehensive index, as do the Catholic agencies (PHIND –
the Personal History Index).
The names of children from Indigenous backgrounds who
were resident in many Government or private facilities, including Native Welfare
hostels, missions and often on stations, are held by the Department for
Child Protection on a searchable Index.
Many children who were in residential child care were
assisted by the Commonwealth Employment Office during various phases of history;
and many would have been assessed by the Education Department, who provided
Child Guidance Reports on all primary age schoolchildren in the State for many
years. The Children’s Court and Western Australian Police Service may also hold
records on individual children; as may hospitals – Princess Margaret, Fremantle,
South Perth Community and Royal Perth Hospitals all treated children who were in
care, as did many country hospitals. Children who were adopted after being in
care should also consult the Department for Child Protection regarding the
Records of Adoption (ROADS) Index as that may provide avenues for following up
birth and other information relating to the adoption.
Due to strict privacy regulations,
interested individuals are advised to try and seek out any such records on their
own behalf. All agencies will have access protocols which will need to be
followed. If you want someone else to search on your behalf, you will need to
give your written consent and most agencies will have a form which you must sign
and which they will keep as evidence of that consent.
The Department is the best ‘starting
place’ for any search. Contact Release of Information (formerly the Family Information Records Bureau), Department
for Child Protection, PO Box 6334, East Perth WA 6892.
Telephone: (08) 9222 2555
Freecall (STD) 1800 000 277