Commonwealth of Australia
Under the Commonwealth Immigration (Guardianship of Children) Act 1946-1973 an immigrant child was defined as any person under the age of 21 years who came to Australia as an immigrant otherwise than in the charge of, or for the purpose of living in Australia under the care of, any parent or relative of that person. The Act vested legal guardianship of immigrant children during their minority in the Commonwealth Minister for Immigration. The Commonwealth Minister for Immigration was empowered to delegate all his powers of legal guardianship to any officer or authority of a State with respect to immigrant children received in that State.
In Western Australia, the guardianship of children under the Immigration (Guardianship of Children) Act was delegated to the Minister for Lands and Immigration with the functions carried out by the Child Welfare Department. The children were placed in the 'care' of the Christian Brothers, the Sisters of Mercy, the Sisters of Nazareth, the Methodist Homes for Children, Swan Homes, and the Fairbridge Society.
Legal guardianship continued until the minor reached majority (ie. Turned 21) or was exempted from the provisions of the Act under a discretionary right of the Minister or delegate. Exemptions were usually only granted if the minor was over the age of 18 years and the custodial arrangements of the nominator satisfied the state department. The Act provided for the legal guardian (ie. The state department) to oversee custody of the minor and the estate of the minor and thus empowered the state department to make home visits, consent to the marriage of the minor and approve their transfer to another state or overseas.
Prepared by: Debra Rosser
Created: 5 November 2012, Last modified: 22 April 2016