Health and welfare records

A guide to researching health and welfare records for family historians

Hospital and welfare records from other states and territories

Guides to where to locate historical hospital and welfare records from other Australian states and territories can be found below. History and information about records from Australian orphanages, children's homes and other institutions in any state or territory can be found on the Find & Connect website

In all states and territories, if a hospital and welfare institution still exists it is a good first step to contact them directly, to see what records they hold or for information as to where the records may have been transferred.

South Australia:

Some hospital and welfare records are available via the State Records of South Australia and some are available via Genealogy SA including, Hospital, asylum or lying-in home admission records.

See the guides at State Library of South Australia, Government Records and Family Histories: Hospital Records and Adoption, fostering and child welfare in South Australia: Children in institutional care. 

State Records Government of South Australia, Children in State Based Care, Hospitals and Destitution in South Australia.


Western Australia:

See the State Records of Western Australia guide to hospital and health records


New South Wales:

View guides to health and hospital records available at the NSW State Archives.

New South Wales, Australia, Hospital & Asylum Records, 1840-1913, available on Ancestry Library Edition at State Library Victoria, contains registers of inmates, records of admission and discharge, and returns and reports from asylums at Liverpool, Tarban Creek, and Parramatta for various years.

Search the index to the Sydney Benevolent Asylum for the period 1857-1900 online.

Sydney Hospital, ca. 1880-ca. 1938. H91.300/718



Search the Libraries Tasmania catalogue for hospital records to explore available record collections. Available records are searchable via the Tasmanian Names Index, which aggregates historical records about people in Tasmania, including some hospital records.

Libraries Tasmania also has a guide to finding records of children in care.



Some medical records are held by the Queensland State Archives - see the Archives' guide to what records are available

The Brisbane Hospital Patient Index (1887-1902) is available via the online database FindmyPast, accessible at State Library Victoria. This digitised index covers four sources that have biographical data for more than two thousand men, women and children. Some of the patients lived in other parts of Queensland, including the far north and west of the State. The index is also available in hard copy in the Newspapers and Family History Reading Room: Brisbane hospital, Qld: index to some patients in 1887, 1900, 1901 & 1902 / Judy Webster.

Northern Territory:

Contact the Northern Territory Archives Service for information on accessing health and welfare records.

Before 1979, administration for Northern Territory health was a Commonwealth responsibility. See this guide from the National Archives of Australia for more information. 

Scenes around Alice Springs Central Australia Staging Camp on the Northern Convoy Route, 1940?
Argus Newspaper Collection of Photographs, State Library Victoria, H99.201/820.

Indexes at State Library Victoria

South Australia:

Reports by inspectress of licensed foster mothers and wetnurses [microform]: 1881-1891, 1898-1899, 1901-1902, 1908-1909, Volumes 1-8 compiled by Graham J Savage. Information includes personal details of licencee, names and ages of children, names of parents, cause and date of death of child, adoption and adoptive parent, amount paid in maintenance, description of the condition of children and home of the licencee.

South Australian index of the deaths of persons with no known relatives living in the colony, who died in South Australian hospitals, Adelaide mental institutions and the Adelaide Destitute Asylum by Frank W. Hall.

Mental patients' estates compiled by Jill Statton from records held at State Records of Australia.

Alphabetical index to register of infants born in the Destitute Asylum 1888-1930 [microform] : 2 volumes.

New South Wales:

Index to children in the care of the State Children's Relief Department as of 05 April, 1883 indexed and published by Susan Lark.

Doctors, rat catchers and quarantine in between : index to the Board of Health Salary Registers 1895-1913.

An index to Liverpool asylum admission and discharges compiled by Bruce Shepherd. Lists surname and given names, age and date of admission, age and date of discharge for the years 1859 to 1894.

The "Forgotten" children in homes, reformatories and industrial schools in NSW from State Records NSW by compiled by Kaye Vernon. Indexed by last name for the years 1867 to 1925.


Publications at State Library Victoria

Rations, residence, resources : a history of social welfare in South Australia since 1836 by Brian Dickey ; with contributions from Elaine Martin and Rod Oxenberry.

The scars remain : a long history of forgotten Australians and children's institutions by Nell Musgrove. This ebook looks at child welfare and institutional care in New South Wales and Tasmania in the the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

From tents to stone compiled and written by Valarie J. Griffiths. Early history of Sydney hospital.

Peat Island : dreaming and desecration by Adrian Mitchell. Available as a ebook, Peat Island was an institutional home for the mentally ill for more than 3000 residents for just over 100 years.

The Masonic hospitals of New South Wales by Grahame H. Cumming. A history of masonic hospitals.

For a personal account of a nurse's life you can read, Apprentice in black stockings : an Australian nursing memoir by Norma Sim.

Margaret Barbalet's personal account of being a state ward, Far from a low gutter girl: the forgotten ward of State wards, South Australia, 1887-1940. 

State Library Victoria

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As we do this some catalogue links may not resolve correctly.