The Superintendent of Poor Relief and Inspector of Charitable Institutions was a position within the Colonial Secretary's office. The Colonial Secretary's office was responsible for a wide range of affairs in Western Australia, administered by a number of 'sub-departments' such as that of the Superintendent. In 1907, after the State Children Act was proclaimed, responsibility for child welfare and institutions was transferred to the new Public Charities and State Children's Department.
During this period, there were 4 orphanages (established under the Industrial Schools Act of 1874) under the supervision of the Superintendent: Perth Girls' Orphanage, Swan Boys' Orphanage, St Joseph's Catholic Orphanage for Girls and the Subiaco Boys' Orphanage. The Superintendent's annual reports contain information about these and other institutions for children.
According to Abbott and Chensey, the Superintendent 'personally dealt with each case' of relief and conducted personal inspections of the institutions (p.26).
The Superintendent's office was sometimes referred to as the Poor Relief Department, and the position was also known as the Superintendent of Poor Houses, and the Superintendent of Poor Relief.
The Superintendent's position was held by William Dale from January 1874 until his death aged 59 years in March 1897. James Longmore began official duties as the Superintendent of Poor Relief and Inspector of Charitable Institutions on 22 December 1897.
1874 - 1908 Superintendent of Poor Relief and Inspector of Charitable Institutions
1908 - 1917 Public Charities and State Children Department
1917 - 1927 State Children Department
1927 - 1972 Child Welfare Department
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: Report by the Superintendent of Poor Relief, Government Printer, Perth, 1890-1896; 'AU WA A103 - Colonial Secretary's Office', in State Records Office of Western Australia - Organisations & People, State Records Office of Western Australia, 2015, https://archive.sro.wa.gov.au/index.php/colonial-secretarys-office-au-wa-a103; Abbott, Kellie and Chesney, Celia, 'I am a Poor Woman: Gender, Poor Relief and the Poorhouse in Late Nineteenth and Early Twentieth-Century Western Australia', Studies in Western Australian History, vol. 25, 2007, pp. 25-39; Department for Community Welfare, History of the Department 1829-1979, 1979.
Prepared by: Debra Rosser and Cate O'Neill
Created: 18 March 2012, Last modified: 20 November 2014