This topic will help you locate and access close access Definition Refers either to the process of providing records for researchers to use in PROV reading rooms, or to the process of determining if records should or should not be withheld from researchers for a period of time. information about children who were adopted or placed into state 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.   in Victoria (‘wards’ of the state).

Things to note:

  • In general, you will not be able to access the records about a person who may be still alive.
  • If you are looking for records of your own or an immediate family member’s adoption or custody, you can request access 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. laws. 
  • There are also information resources and organisations that may provide additional help.

Language warning

The language used in these records can be distressing or offensive.  The terms used to describe health reflect the attitudes of the time and may not represent current day understandings.  We sometimes repeat these terms to accurately convey how the records can be accessed; this does not mean we endorse those past attitudes. 

What do I need to know before I start?

Records of adoption and custody of children are treated as private and sensitive to the people involved and often closed under Section 9. 

For historic records or family records this information is helpful:

  • name and year they were admitted
  • the dates of the adoption or time ‘in care’
  • the town or suburb where the child was when custody was transferred (to identify which court may have been involved)
  • the names of any orphanages or other institutions involved.

View online or at the Reading Room?

Look for the icons below to identify if records are viewable online (mouse over globe) or need to be ordered online and then viewed at our Reading Rooms (open book):

Look for these icons to:

View online

Visit Us

Various record series
Accessing records of mental and physical health
Record Series Number (VPRS): 4527