This project studies exploratory tools used by professional personnel overseeing children in welfare and penal institutions. It provides information and analysis of institutional records, assessments, examinations and judgements on children, including Aboriginal children, during different historical periods of administration. By studying the methods by which law and welfare administrations comes to know and manage the child, the project seeks to provide better understanding of regular and enduring patterns of children transitioning from welfare to justice institutions, and contribute new insights on sociological theories of normalisation. One implication of this kind of research is that the current ‘crisis’ in child protection in Western societies can be approached by looking historically at the extension of powers of normalisation brought about by a closer linking of law to regulatory supervision of the population, and thus tying individuals more thoroughly to scientific descriptions of normality and abnormality.

(Researchers: David McCallum  and Moondani Balluk Indigenous Academic Unit at Victoria University.