A child or young person in need of care and protection was the term introduced by the Child Welfare Act Amendment Act (No.2) 1976 (s.3) to describe the law 'relating to the protection, guidance and maintenance of children in need of care and protection'. Previously, the term had been care and control. The Children and Community Services Act 2004 (s.3) uses the phrase, provisional protection and care. This is often just called being taken into care. Being taken into care usually means that a child is taken away from his or her parents and placed into the care of the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Department responsible for child welfare. The Department will then make all of the decisions about the day-to-day care and protection of the child or young person. Over time, children have become more involved in that decision-making.
The modern system of out of home care recognises that children or young people who need care and protection are not to blame for their situation. This wasn't always the case. Historically, children and young people who were abandoned were seen to be tainted and liable to influence other 'good' children. Giving evidence to the Select Committee of the Legislative Council into the State Children Act Amendment Bill in 1918 (p.10), Frederick Daniel Good, President of the Justices' Association of Western Australia and a magistrate in the Children's Court, gave an example of these values: 'A girl of 17 who has had two illegitimate children and who is known to be abandoned should not be sent to an institution where other girls who have not been guilty of anything serious are inmates. Goodness only knows what harm an abandoned girl will do in an institution, where other inmates are not as bad as she is.' The issues around the proximity of children who are taken into care for their own protection and children who have been brought into care via the juvenile justice system has been an ongoing factor in placement decisions and influenced the creation of separate government departments for juvenile justice and child welfare in 1994.
The care and protection of children in Australia is regulated by Acts of Parliament. In Western Australia, there have been five significant phases of this regulation:
Sources used to compile this entry: 'The laws - Western Australia', in Bringing Them Home: Human Rights Education Resources for Teachers, Australian Human Rights Commission, 2010, https://humanrights.gov.au/our-work/8-laws-western-australia-bringing-then-home-1997; Australian Institute of Criminology Publications, Australian Institute of Criminology, 2014, https://aic.gov.au/publications; Bromfield, Leah; Goldsworthy, Kathyrn & Lamont, Alister, 'History of Child Protection Services', in Australian Institute of Family Studies, Australian Institute of Family Studies, January 2015, https://www3.aifs.gov.au/cfca/publications/history-child-protection-services; Information about the Law, https://www.legalaid.wa.gov.au/resources/information-sheets#Protection; Report of the Select Committee of the Legislative Council on the State Children Act Amendment Bill [Document], Date: 19 November 1918; Rowe, Leanne, 'The Children's Protection Society: child protection in Western Australia, 1906-1930: towards a Medical-Welfare Model', Studies in Western Australian History, vol. 25, 2007, pp. 116-131.
Prepared by: Debra Rosser
Created: 25 October 2011, Last modified: 7 February 2019