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Queensland - Archival Collection

Client Files (c. 1865 - 2001)

Queensland Government-run Institutions

c. 1865

Client Files, Queensland Government-run Institutions relate to children and young people up to the time they were discharged from State care. These children and young people were placed in a variety of situations - some were cared for at home, others in institutions, in foster care or other alternative care arrangements.


Access Conditions

Former residents wishing to access records about their time in care can contact the Time in Care Information Access Service, in the Department of Child Safety, Youth and Women.

Although the files are confidential and access is therefore restricted, the Department supports the rights of former residents to obtain information about themselves.

The Department is aware that former residents often want the records of their family member and/or other people. This information is often sensitive and personal in nature. To safeguard the rights of privacy, clients are unable to obtain information about other people, including other family members, without the authority of the person/people concerned.

This protects the right to privacy of all individuals, as personal information on other people will be given out only with their permission.


According to Missing Pieces (2001), a significant number of the departmental client files were destroyed in the 1974 Australia Day weekend floods (p.4).

The information on the existing files varies, and generally includes reasons why the children and young people came into care (e.g. information about their and their family's circumstances) and placement details. Very few medical details are included in these files.

Until the early 1990s, information about all members of the same family was placed on the same 'family' file. This often means that documents contain personal information about more than one child, or about their parents or other family members.

After the early 1990s, individual files have been kept on each child in care. Where more than one child in a family is placed in care, there is a separate file on each child. However, if a document refers to more than one child, a copy of the document will be placed on each child's file.

To provide an overview of each child's orders and placements, index cards were made for each individual admitted to care from the early 1900s to January 1989, when computerized indexes were introduced. The index cards include a 'family' card as well as a separate card for each individual child of that family who was admitted to care.

The 'family' card includes the names and dates of birth of each child admitted to care and the dates they were admitted and discharged from care. The cards usually also include the parents' names, occupations and religion.

The individual card for each child lists the child's name and date of birth, and date of each 'movement' to an institution or other placement. The cards do not include detailed information about the placements.

A definitive date range for these records cannot be confirmed and is only an estimate.


Client files are managed by the Department of Child Safety, Youth and Women in Brisbane. Some earlier files - mostly predating the 1940s - are stored at Queensland State Archives. These client records are closed to the public. However, any files at the Archives that relate to individuals who were in care are retrieved from the Archives and provided to them when they apply for their information.



  • Department of Families, Missing pieces: information to assist former residents of children's institutions to access records, State of Queensland, 2001. pp.4-6. Details

Sources used to compile this entry: Department of Families, Missing pieces: information to assist former residents of children's institutions to access records, State of Queensland, 2001. pp.4-6..

Prepared by: Lee Butterworth