Last updated:

February 23, 2018

What do I need to know?

It helps to know as much as possible about times and places of events in the life of the person you are researching.


About these records

Adoption was not formally regulated by the State of Victoria until 1928. Before then, children were put up for adoption through the churches and sometimes through the courts. Most records created after 1928 are closed as they may contain personal and private information about individuals who may still be alive. They are closed under a classification close classification Definition Systematic identification and arrangement of business activities and / or records into categories according to logically structured conventions, methods, and procedural rules represented in a classification system known as Section 9 close Section 9 Definition Section 9 of the Public Records Act 1973 allows for the closure of “personal or private” records. This prevents the violation of personal privacy and covers such material as personnel records, medical records, police and prison records and case records concerning students, welfare recipients, children in government care or compensation claimants. .

There are no specific collections dedicated to recording children who were adopted until 1928. Any records we may have about an adopted child before 1928 will usually be because that child first spent time under the care of the State or a private institution before being adopted. 

We may have records on:

  • any time spent in State care before the adoption itself (See Wards of the State page)
  • when a court ordered a child to be removed from parents
  • general records about the management of children by state government agencies.

Who created these records?

Below is a list of government agencies who had responsibility for custody close custody Definition Responsibility for the care of records and archives, usually based on their physical possession. Custody does not necessarily include legal ownership.   of children:

  • 1864–1887: Department of Industrial and Reformatory Schools (VA 1466)
  • 1887–1924: Department of Neglected Children (VA 1467)
  • 1887–1954: Department of Reformatory Schools (VA 2963)
  • 1924–1960: Children’s Welfare Department (VA 1467)
  • 1960–1970: Social Welfare Branch (VA 2784)
  • 1970–1979: Social Welfare Department (VA 946)
  • 1979–1985: Department of Community Welfare Services (VA 613)
  • 1985–1992: Department of Community Services (VA 2633)
  • 1992–1996: Department of Health and Community Services (VA 3092)
  • 1996–ct:  Department of Human Services (VA 3970)

Next Steps

Once you have found records of interest to you, order close order Definition Physical records can be ordered for viewing in PROV’s reading rooms.  When a user orders a record, it is reserved solely for their use. them online and then view in our Reading Room.

What are in these records?

  • summary information about the adoption
  • name and age of the child
  • basic details on the parents
  • reason for adoption.


We may not have many details on adopted individuals. The exceptions are Wards of State records (adopted by the state) See details on Ward Registers topic page.

Post 1928

Records created after 1918 are closed as they contain personal and private information.  If you believe you have a good reason to see these records, you can make a request to the Department of Health and Human Services to see them under Freedom of Information close Freedom of Information Definition Records transferred to PROV and closed under sections 9 or 10 of the Public Records Act may still be available for public inspection under section 15 of the Freedom of Information Act 1982. Requests under Freedom of Information legislation should be referred to the government agency currently responsible for the records. rules. 

Later adoptions might be documented in more extensive case files (apply for access  through the Freedom of Information process). 

Support for your search

If you are an adoptee or the child of an adoptee, or been fostered or ‘boarded’ out there are some organisations you can contact for advice and help in your research different services cater for different cirumstances.