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New South Wales - Legislation

Reformatory Schools Act 1866 (1869 - 1901)

  • Reformatory Schools Act 1866

    Reformatory Schools Act 1866

Principal Act
Alternative Names
  • An Act to establish Juvenile Reformatories (Long title)
New South Wales

The Reformatory Schools Act 1866 (30 Victoria, Act No. 4, 1866) came into operation in 1869. Under the Act, any child under the age of sixteen who had been convicted of a criminal offence and sentenced to fourteen or more days imprisonment could be sent to a reformatory for one to five years. There were to be separate reformatories for boys and girls, and parents were asked to pay maintenance for children, if possible, while they served time. The Act was repealed by the Reformatory and Industrial Schools Act 1901.


Reformatories were controlled by the Comptroller General of Prisons until the 1880s, when they were transferred to the Department of Public Instruction.


 1869 - 1901 Reformatory Schools Act 1866
       1901 - 1905 Reformatory and Industrial Schools Act 1901
             1905 - 1923 Neglected Children and Juvenile Offenders Act 1905
                   1923 - 1939 Child Welfare Act 1923
                         1939 - 1987 Child Welfare Act 1939
                               1965 - 2003 Adoption of Children Act 1965
                               1987 - 2010 Children (Care and Protection) Act 1987
                                     1998 - Children and Young Persons (Care and Protection) Act 1998
                                     2000 - Adoption Act 2000

Related Glossary Terms

  • Industrial Schools

    Industrial schools were established under the Reformatory Schools Act.

Related Organisations


Journal Articles

  • Williamson, Noeline, 'Life in the industrial and reformatory school for girls in New South Wales [Series of two parts]: Part 1: 1867 to 1887. 'Hymns, songs and blackguard verses'. Part 2: 1887 to 1910. Laundry maids or ladies?', Journal of the Royal Australian Historical Society, vol. 67-68, March, 1982-1983, pp. 375-386, 312-324. Details

Online Resources


Reformatory Schools Act 1866
Reformatory Schools Act 1866


Sources used to compile this entry: History of the Children's Court [extracted from Blackmore, R., The Children's Court and Community Welfare in NSW, Lawlink NSW, 2009,; 'Mount Penang Juvenile Justice Centre', in State Records Authority of New South Wales website, State of New South Wales through the State Records Authority of NSW 2016,; 'Shaftesbury Reformatory', in State Records Authority of New South Wales website, State of New South Wales through the State Records Authority of NSW 2016,

Prepared by: Naomi Parry