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 Searching for your family history


In the past, many people were separated from their families due to policies and practices which reflected the social attitudes of those times. As a result many people do not know their relatives, their own background, childhood or family history. The Department's records include historical family and personal information about Aboriginal people, former state wards, and British and Maltese child migrants.

Collaboration between the Department of Communities and the Department of Aboriginal Affairs Aboriginal History Research Unit to collect and preserve information assists Aboriginal people access their personal records and family history. This information has been gathered from former Department of Native Welfare files and other government files, with some records going back to the early 1900’s.

The available information for former state wards and child migrants can be limited to entries in volumes of birth records or registers of prior state wards. However, in the majority of cases, the records have been preserved on micro-film, electronic imaged files or, more recently, physical files and virtual files.

Files are limited in the amount and type of information they hold. This is because the information which was recorded depended on the extent of contact with the person or the family. Sometimes records are incomplete, have pages missing or the writing has deteriorated and is unreadable, and some files have been destroyed. The Department has made every effort to preserve the remaining records.

Access to confidential historical information is restricted and provisions of the Freedom of Information Act 1992 apply. Applications for information can be made by completing the following form: Application for access to information

Further information is available from:
Freedom of Information
PO Box 6334

Telephone: (08) 9222 2555 or 1800 000 277 (free call in WA)
Facsimile: (08) 9222 2776
Email: foi@communities.wa.gov.au


Find and Connectread information about and view images of children's homes, get help to find records about your childhood in 'care' and connect with support groups and services in your state or territory.

Looking West: A guide to Aboriginal records in Western Australia: This guide details the location of records, type of service, years of operation, information in records and contact details.

A guide for children and young people in care from 1920 (Signposts): Signposts aims to help people find records and other documents related to their time in residential, out of home care as children – or  who have lived in supported accommodation as a young person.

Department of Aboriginal Affairs
The Aboriginal History Research Unit (AHRU), part of the Department of Aboriginal Affairs (DAA), manages access to Western Australian State archives, and some privately owned records, under its jurisdiction.  


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