Aborigines Welfare Board


  • Auspice: State Government of Victoria
  • Name: Aborigines Welfare Board (1957–68)

Aborigines Welfare Board history in brief

The Aborigines Welfare Board was established by the Aborigines Act 1957. This Act abolished the Board of Protection (first formed in Victoria in 1860). The new Aborigines Welfare Board had the function 'to promote the moral, intellectual and physical welfare of aborigines (full blood and half-caste) with a view to their assimilation in the general community'.

The Aborigines Welfare Board retained many of the far-reaching powers exercised by the previous Protection Board. One significant change is that the Aborigines Welfare Board did not have specific powers in relation to children. Aboriginal children came under the provisions of the Children's Welfare Act 1954. From 1957, any removal of Aboriginal children from their family and community by government agents took place under the provisions of the Act.

The Aborigines Welfare Board was abolished in 1968 when the Victorian government established a Ministry of Aboriginal Affairs.

In 1966–97, it appears the board was still operating as an approved adoption agency.

In 1980, Professor Peter Read founded Link-Up which is run by and for members of the Stolen Generation to trace and reunite families separated by past government policies.

Warning about distressing information

This guide contains information that some people may find distressing. If you experienced abuse as a child or young person in an institution mentioned in this guide, it may be a difficult reading experience. Guides may also contain references to previous views, policies and practices that are regrettable and do not reflect the current views, policies or practices of the department or the State of Victoria. If you find this content distressing, please consult with a support person either from the Department of Health and Human Services or another agency.


List of records held by the department

Defunct Agency Adoption Records (Adoption Information Service) (1920–82)

File; Permanent VPRS Number 17943 / P0001

Content: The Adoption Act 1984 allowed approved agencies to arrange and negotiate the adoption of children. It also required that agencies keep certain records. If an agency’s approval or operations ceased, their records were to be forwarded to the Secretary of the Department.

The Act also required the Department to establish an adoption information service (AIS), with access to both records created by the Department and the records of the former approved agencies. The adoption records now held by the Department were created by as many as 30 different adoption agencies that were in operation at different times. After the AIS was formed (circa 1985) it gathered together the records of the various former agencies, numbered the files sequentially with an “A” prefix and created a full index.

Other AIS unnumbered adoption files and card indexes were transferred at a later date. The records management unit allocated these records different numbering systems. The categories of files were grouped by the adoption agency they related to and the function of the file. Some of the file sequences also hold an "A" prefix as adoption files. However, the numbering system is separate to the first collection transferred from the AIS.

Content of files will vary but may include:

  • Application to Adopt form
  • Documents and correspondence supporting the application.
  • Consent to Adopt and correspondence.
  • Legal documents
  • Birth certificates
  • Photographs
  • There is one sequence of files attributed to the Aborigines Welfare Board:
  • Files A1080 to A2026

Reviewed 04 October 2016