Journal article

‘The beneficent and legal godfather’: a history of the guardianship of unaccompanied immigrant and refugee children in Australia, 1946–1975

J Silverstein

The History of the Family | Taylor & Francis (Routledge) | Published : 2017


In Australia in 1946, the Immigration (Guardianship of Children) Act was passed. This Act was intended to support the postwar migration to Australia of British children, unaccompanied by their parents, and provided them a guardian in Australia: the Immigration Minister. This key provision of the Act continues into the present, covering all unaccompanied child migrants, including refugees. Starting with the parliamentary debates which occurred at the formation of the Act in 1946, this article traces a history of the Act until its first High Court challenge in 1975. In doing so, a focus is placed on a series of key questions raised by its production of categories: How does the Act construct id..

View full abstract


Awarded by Australian Research Council

Funding Acknowledgements

This article was researched and written with funding provided by the ARC Laureate Research Fellowship Project [FL140100049], 'Child Refugees and Australian Internationalism from 1920 to the Present'.