Some people may find content on this website distressing. Read more
Australia - Concept

Voluntary Placement (c. 1887 - )

c. 1887
Term commonly found on child welfare records
Alternative Names
  • Private Placement (Also known as)

The term 'voluntary placements' was used to describe children who were in 'care' but had not been made a ward of the state under state child welfare legislation. A child in such a situation was sometimes referred to as a voluntary ward. Such children were often placed in Homes by their parents during times of hardship or crisis, and often only for short-term stays. People who came into 'care' under such 'voluntary', informal arrangements can experience particular difficulties in locating and accessing records.


The 'Forgotten Australians' report (2004) noted that 'non-wards' experienced particular difficulties in their search for records about their time in care.

Because we were not legally 'Wards of the State', we have no records except for admission data [Submission No. 6].

Because of this paucity of records, 'non-wards' were described in the Report as 'largely invisible' to the state authorities.

There is also less information in the public records and archives about the babies' and children's institutions which were not subsidised by state government authorities.

Related Concepts


Online Resources

Sources used to compile this entry: Senate Community Affairs References Committee Secretariat, Parliament of Australia, Forgotten Australians: A report on Australians who experienced institutional or out-of-home care as children, Commonwealth of Australia, 2004,

Prepared by: Cate O'Neill