Declining volunteerism in Tasmania's Neglected Children's Department, 1896-1918

Journal article

Evans, Caroline Patricia. (2011). Declining volunteerism in Tasmania's Neglected Children's Department, 1896-1918. Tasmanian Historical Studies. 16(2011), pp. 73 - 88.
AuthorsEvans, Caroline Patricia

In 1896, as the result of a campaign led by the Woman's Christian Temperance Union (WCTU), the Tasmanian Parliament passed the Youthful Offenders Destitute and Neglected Children's Act that established the Neglected Children's Department. The WCTU sought to establish a public profile through legislation that benefited women and children and by obtaining the vote. Yet, in persuading the state to assume responsibility for neglected children, the WCTU initiated a decline in women's influence over this area of child welfare policy for the next twenty-two years. With male public servants in control, the next generation of women campaigners had to accept a supportive role. Moreover, because of professionalisation, women volunteers lost their positions within the Neglected Children's Department. Public servants ran it, refined the concept of neglect, and provided advice on the next raft of reforms. Practical constraints on bureaucratic action modified policy while the officials' pragmatism, systematic management, and knowledge of the children in their care moderated the proscriptive emphasis on moral purity inherent in the Youthful Offenders and Neglected Children's Act, and greatly influenced the more thoroughgoing Children's Charter of 1918. The history of the Neglected Children's Department suggests the significance of public service culture to policy, a view that used to predominate in welfare historiography but that many historians now contest.

JournalTasmanian Historical Studies
Journal citation16 (2011), pp. 73 - 88
PublisherSchool of History and Classics, University of Tasmania
Web address (URL);dn=897359190753137;res=IELAPA
Page range73 - 88
Research GroupSchool of Arts
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Place of publicationAustralia
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