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Victoria - Legislation

Infant Life Protection Act 1890 (1891 - 1915)

  • The Infant Life Protection Act 1890

    The Infant Life Protection Act 1890
    Details

From
1891
To
1915
Categories
Principal Act
Website
http://corrigan.austlii.edu.au/au/legis/vic/hist_act/ilpa1890232/

The Infant Life Protection Act 1890 (No. 1198) commenced on 31 January 1891. It shifted the control of overseeing paid children's nurses to the police, and explicitly stated that people had to be registered if they were for the purpose of nursing or maintaining such infant apart taking charge of a child under two years of age 'for the purpose of maintaining such infant for a longer period than three consecutive days' or 'for the purpose of adopting such infant'.

Details

Since the 1870s there had been mounting public concern about the fates of infants placed with paid nurses, often referred as 'baby farmers', and in 1883 an amendment to the Public Health Act placed the monitoring of such arrangements under the control of Local Health Boards.

The Infant Life Protection Act 1890 shifted the control of overseeing paid children's nurses to the police, and explicitly stated that people had to be registered if they were for the purpose of nursing or maintaining such infant apart taking charge of a child under two years of age 'for the purpose of maintaining such infant for a longer period than three consecutive days' or 'for the purpose of adopting such infant'. The clause referring to adoption was intended to regulate the work of people who brokered adoptions by taking charge of surrendered infants and matching them with adoptive parents for a fee. At this time, there was no law providing for an adoption to be recognised in law and it was not unusual for informal adoptions to be negotiated through 'baby farmers'.

The Infant Life Protection Act 1907 extended the definition of infants to include all children under five years of age and also transferred the administration of infant life protection measures to the Neglected Children's Department. The Infant Life Protection Act 1915, No. 2670 which repealed this Act, was a re-enactment of the 1907 provisions, and was consolidated in the Children's Welfare Act 1928.

Timeline

 1891 - 1915 Infant Life Protection Act 1890
       1915 - 1929 Infant Life Protection Act 1915
             1929 - 1955 Children's Welfare Act 1928
                   1955 - 1959 Children's Welfare Act 1954
                         1959 - 1971 Children's Welfare Act 1958
                               1971 - 1978 Social Welfare Act 1970
                                     1979 - 1983 Community Welfare Services Act 1978
                                           1987 - Community Services Act 1987

Amends

Related Glossary Terms

Publications

Books

  • Harris, Helen Doxford, Infant Life Protection Act of 1890 - index to mothers, children, nurses and adoptive parents, Harriland Press, Forest Hill, Vic., 2001. Details
  • Jaggs, Donella, Neglected and criminal: foundations of child welfare legislation in Victoria, Centre for Youth and Community Studies, Phillip Institute of Technology, Melbourne, 1986. Details
  • Swain, Shurlee with Renate Howe, Single mothers and their children : disposal, punishment and survival in Australia, Cambridge University Press, Melbourne, 1995. Details

Journal Articles

Online Resources

Photos

The Infant Life Protection Act 1890
Title
The Infant Life Protection Act 1890
Type
Document

Details

Sources used to compile this entry: Jaggs, Donella, Neglected and criminal: foundations of child welfare legislation in Victoria, Centre for Youth and Community Studies, Phillip Institute of Technology, Melbourne, 1986; Law Research Service, Melbourne Law School, Law Library, The University of Melbourne. 'Find and Connect Project - Victoria Legislation', 13 December 2013, held in the project files at the University of Melbourne eScholarship Research Centre.

Prepared by: Nell Musgrove