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Tasmania - Legislation

Public Charities Act 1873 (1873 - 1935)

Principal Act

The Public Charities Act 1873 also known as "An Act to make provision in respect of the Maintenance of Indigent Persons" (Act no. 37 Vict. No.15) enabled the government to assist poor people who were not living in an institution. It also provided for children under the age of 16, who were orphaned, deserted or surrendered by their parents, to be boarded out, that is, placed in foster care. The Charitable Grants Department was established in 1873 to administer the Act. This legislation was repealed by Public Welfare Institutions Act 1935 (Act no. 26 Geo. V No.15) on 27 August 1935.


Tasmania was one of the first Australian colonies to have a boarding-out system.

Boarded out children would be would be supervised by a 'Committee for Boarding-Out Destitute Children'.


 1862 - 1873 Maintenance by Relatives of Indigent Persons in Public charitable Institutions 1862
       1873 - 1935 Public Charities Act 1873
             1935 - 1991 Public Welfare Institutions Act 1935

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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, 2004. Also available at p.31.; Law Research Service, Melbourne Law School, Law Library, The University of Melbourne. 'Find and Connect Project - Tasmanian Legislation', 20 January 2014, held in the project files at the University of Melbourne eScholarship Research Centre.

Prepared by: Caroline Evans