Sector Reform Timelines

Child Protection and Out-of-Home Care Reforms in NSW

2014Safe Home for Life

The NSW Government has introduced new legislation as part of the Safe Home for Life reform package. This legislation was proclaimed on 29th October 2014, resulting in changes for ACWA members and service providers within the sector. More...

Legislative Reform

The Child Protection Legislation Amendment Act 2014 was passed in the NSW Parliament on 26 March 2014. The changes came into effect on 29 October 2014. Further reading

Out-of-Home Care Transition in NSW

Following the Special Commission of Inquiry into Child Protection Services in NSW, Justice Wood determined that children placed with ngos receive a better standard of care and recommended the transfer of service delivery in regards to OOHC from the government to the non-government agencies.  In 2011, the Liberal Government, led by Minister for Family and Community services, the hon. Pru Goward MP, outlined the reforms and clearly stated the government’s commitment to the transition, with implementation starting 1 March 2012. More...

A Brief History of Child Protection in NSW

2009Keep Them Safe: A Shared Approach to Child Wellbeing

Announced March 2009, Government action plan accepting 106 of the recommendations from the Wood Report. More...

2008Child Protection Inquiry and the Wood Report

Two separate shocking incidents of child deaths in 2007 sparked a special commission of inquiry into the child protection services in NSW. The inquiry was completed in Nov 2008. Three volume report containing 111 recommendations. More...

Inverting the Pyramid

Emergent ideas framing child protection in a public health model. Child wellbeing focus - more preventative and collaborative approach. Read more...                  

2002Aboriginal Over-Representation

Aboriginal families and children are overrepresented in the child protection system. In NSW, approximately 2% of the population identify as Aboriginal. The rate of reporting 317.9 per 1000 for Aboriginal children and young people, and 76.2 per 1000 for non-Aboriginal children and young people. Approximately 32.1% (as of June 2009) of children and young people in OOHC are Aboriginal. (Wood Report, 2008; Community Services, 2010). 

See also Key Statistics and The Wood Report                            

A System Under Pressure

In NSW, child protection reports jumped from 159,643 in 2001/02 to 309,676 in 2008/09. OOHC has a similar increase, rising from 9,273 in 2002 to 16,524 in 2009. The increases are reflective of a global trend attributed to growing awareness in the community, changing attitudes to child abuse and neglect, and forensic process of child protection. (Community Services, 2010)

See also Key Statistics

Introduction of Standards Framework

Increased use of non-government out of home care placements. NSW Children's Guardian introduces standards framework for OOHC. Further information is available from their website.

Investing in the Statutory Authority

NSW Government announces an increase to the funding for Department of Community Services. An increase of $1 billion over 5 years.

1998Mandatory Reporting

The new legislation brings in mandatory reporting. That all professionals whose work is associated with children must report instances where they are “at risk of harm”.                                              

New Legislation in NSW

Ascension of new child protection legislation, Children and Young Persons (Care and Protection) Act.

Supporting Families

Emergent view that it is better to support families and have children safely remain in the family unit than to remove the child.                                   

UN Convention on the Rights of the Child

Development of convention. First developed by the League of Nations in 1924. Ratified by UN in 1990. Australia one of the first signatories. Further reading

1987Legislation in NSW

Ascension of Children (Care and Protection) Act. Further reading  

Foster Care

Growing body of evidence indicating foster care is preferred model of out of home care over residential care models.

Family Court of Australia

States gradually devolve their powers in relation to ex-nuptial children to federal court. States maintain individual jurisdiction for child protection. Further reading


Research in the field of child development has a dramatic impact on conceptualising the impact that abuse and neglect have on children. 

20th Century‘Forgotten Australians’ 

State institutionalisation of children for a variety of paternalistic reasons. More...

‘Stolen Generation’

Forced separation of Aboriginal children from their families under policies of assimilation. More...

Colonies develop own legislations

Australian states/colonies develop individual legislative mechanisms concerning child protection for their jurisdictions.       

19th CenturyAnimal Welfare 

In the US, the first known court case to protect child from cruelty uses animal welfare laws due to no applicable law for children. It argued that a child is a human and thus part of the kingdom of animals.

History of the New York Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children

History of the American Humane Association

18th CenturyTransportation of Children 

Children convicted of petty crimes sent to penal colony - Australia.                           

Colonisation of Australia

Colonisation decimates Aboriginal communities. Diseases, alcohol, and dispossession.

17th CenturyUK Poor Laws 

Poor Relief Act 1601- Social control of poor and destitute. It introduced “a harsh regime of begrudging support and protection, often cruelly administered, for the abandoned and destitute child.”       

'A Brief History of Child Protection in Australia' adapted from: Fogarty, J.F. (2008). Some aspects of the early history of child protection in Australia. Family Matters, 78, 52–59.