Introduction: Where Are My Records?

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


Other Useful Sources of Information