|Description of this AgencyDescription of this Agency|
The Department of Community Welfare Services was established on 13 February 1979 following proclamation of the Community Welfare Services Act 1978 (No.9248). This Act established the new Department by renaming the Social Welfare Department and hence all functions previously administered by the Social Welfare Department (VA 946) became the responsibility of the Department of Community Welfare Services.
The Community Welfare Services Act 1978 was tabled in Parliament simultaneously with the release of the first Victorian Government White Paper on Social Welfare which defined the Government's long-term policy objectives regarding welfare services in Victoria. The legislation was intended to facilitate the development of an integrated system of community-oriented and needs-based welfare services, with an emphasis on prevention rather than control of social problems.
Re-organisation of the Department
The Divisional structure of the Social Welfare Department (VA 946) had reflected the primary functions for which it had been responsible and thus there were the following divisions: Family Welfare, Youth Welfare, Prisons, Probation and Parole, Training and Research and Statistics. Following the creation of the new Department of Community Welfare Services there was a major re-organisation of the administration which emphasized regionalisation. Regional centres increasingly became responsible for a range of functions previously administered by several different divisions. In particular probation and parole services became regionalised to such an extent that a distinct probation and parole division ceased to exist.
The administration of other functions was also re-organised and a number of new divisions were created. The responsibilities of these divisions reflected the Government's changed view of priorities in the provision of social welfare services. In particular there was a clear separation of the administration of adult and juvenile correctional services which had also been evident in the Social Welfare Department. From 1979 there was a further major shift in administrative perspective and juvenile correctional services became far more closely linked to the provision of family and child welfare services.
Although the administrative structure of the Department of Community Welfare Services underwent a number of changes, the primary functions for which it was responsible were:
Family and Adolescent Services which included:
family support services including emergency housing (until 1982) and women's refuges
financial support to families and children
protection of children including prevention of child maltreatment, regulation of school attendance, child employment and street trading and refugee child care
family substitute care
residential child care
youth welfare services
youth support services
youth training centres
youth correctional field services including child probation, youth parole and probation
Community Services including responsibility for:
disaster welfare support
early childhood services
social research, planning and policy
community service grants
training and certification of persons working in government and non-government welfare work including child care, youth work, welfare work and prison services
training honorary probation officers and volunteer workers.
Correctional Services (to 1983)
The Correctional Services Division was responsible for the administration of the Victorian prison system and for developing alternatives to institutional care including community-based attendance centres. Its major functions were:
control and supervision of all persons imprisoned or detained in prison
administration of attendance centres as an alternative to imprisonment
Court advisory services including pre-trial and pre-sentence reports
assistance in the rehabilitation of all prisoners and persons released from prisons or police gaols
provision of welfare services to prisoners and their families and the provision of prisoner support services such as education, prison industries and counselling for prisoners and their families
assistance to and promotion of co-operation between organisations and Government Departments concerned with the welfare and after care of prisoners.
The provision of these services led to the development of two distinct programmes:
Correctional (or Custodial) Services being the administration of the traditional prison system, such as had been undertaken by the former Prisons Division and
Community Based Corrections being the administration of alternatives to prison detention such as attendance centres and community service orders.
The latter programme also encompassed correctional services provided by the Regional Services Division of the Department including probation, parole and community service orders.
Establishment of the Office of Corrections
In 1983 a major review of Victoria's prison system was undertaken by an American consultant J.D.Henderson and Commander P.H.Bennett of the Victoria Police. They concluded that the prison system was long overdue for redevelopment, and as a result the Office of Corrections (VA 1063) was established by an Order-in-Council gazetted on 17 August 1983.
Under the provisions of the Community Welfare Services (Director General of Corrections) Act 1983 (No.9966) the Office of Corrections was administratively separated from the Department of Community Welfare Services and the Director General assumed the powers of a Chief Administrator.
The Office of Corrections assumed responsibility for the administration of the prison system and for the provision of adult correctional services which compass custodial services and facilities and a range of non-custodial services including attendance centre orders, probation orders and community service orders, as well as the post-custodial, pre-release and parole programmes. The Office also provides pre-trial and pre-sentence advice to courts.
Responsibility for juvenile correctional services and institutions remained with the Department of Community Welfare Services.
Establishment of the Department of Community Services
In 1985, following the appointment of a Minister for Community Services, a Department of Community Services (VA 2633) was established. The establishment of the new Department followed a major review and redefinition of many services which had traditionally been regarded as health services. In May 1985 the Department of Community Services became responsible for pre-school services which included the administration of the pre-school centres, child minding centres and services providing for the care of pre-school children.
In October 1985 the new Department of Community Services assumed responsibility for all community welfare programmes administered by the Department of Community Welfare Services and for domiciliary care services, family health services, physical and sensory disability services and intellectual disability services, all of which had previously been administered by the Health Department (VA 2695).
For further information about the administration of prisons and correctional services see VRG 9 Prisons and Youth Training Centres and VRG 93 Corrections.
Location of Records
For records of the Department of Community Welfare Services see List of Holdings 2nd edition 1985, section 3.5.1 (Department of Community Services). Researchers are also advised to consult sections 3.4.7 (Correctional Services), 3.4.8 (Adult Parole Board), 3.5.6 (Youth Parole Board), 8.0.0 (Health and Welfare Agencies), and 13.0.0 (Prisons and Youth Training Centres). See also VRG 8 Health and Welfare Agencies and VRG 9 Prisons and Youth Training Centres for the records of individual institutions.