The Commissioner of Native Welfare was an official role created by the Native Welfare Act 1954, replacing the Commissioner for Native Affairs. The Commissioner was the head of the Department of Native Welfare, and the legal guardian of every Aboriginal child in Western Australia to the age of 21 years, except those children made wards of state by the Child Welfare Act 1947. He had the power to remove Aborignal children and place them in Homes or in 'service' (work). The Commissioner ceased to be guardian of Aboriginal chidlren from 1963, and became responsible for their 'custody, maintenance and education'. The role of Commissioner ended with the creation of the Department of Community Welfare in 1972.
Stanley Middleton, who had been Commissioner for Native Affairs from 1948, continued as Commissioner of Native Welfare from 1954 to 1962. Frank Ellis Gare was Commissioner from 1962 to 1972.
Under the Native Welfare Act 1963, the Commissioner ceased to be the guardian of Aboriginal children ('native minors') and the duties of the Commissioner, as head of the Department of Native Welfare, included providing for 'the custody, maintenance and education of the children of natives', and also regulating 'the control, care and education of the children of natives'. This role was abolished by the Aboriginal Affairs Planning Authority Act 1972. The remaining child welfare responsibilities of the Department of Welfare were transferred to the Department of Community Welfare of the Department of Community Welfare in 1972.
1898 - 1936 Chief Protector of Aborigines
1936 - 1954 Commissioner for Native Affairs
1954 - 1972 Commissioner of Native Welfare
1972 - 1985 Department for Community Welfare
1985 - 1992 Department for Community Services
1992 - 1995 Department for Community Development
1995 - 2001 Department for Family and Children's Services
2001 - 2007 Department for Community Development
2007 - 2013 Department for Communities
2007 - 2013 Department for Child Protection
2013 - 2017 Department of Local Government and Communities
2013 - 2017 Department for Child Protection and Family Support
2017 - Department of Local Government, Sport and Cultural Industries
2017 - Child Protection and Family Support
Sources used to compile this entry: To Remove and Protect: Aboriginal Lives Under Control [website], 2010, http://aiatsis.gov.au/collections/collections-online/digitised-collections/remove-and-protect.
Prepared by: Debra Rosser
Created: 23 January 2012, Last modified: 21 April 2016