The first Ordinance relating to the maintenance of the destitute was passed in South Australia in 1843.
The Destitute Board was appointed in 1849. This Board was responsible for giving relief those who had no means or relatives to support them. Two forms of relief were available:

  • “Outdoor” – consisting of rations of food and firewood to those with a roof over their head, and
  • “Indoor” – available to the sick, homeless, widowed and elderly residing in the Destitute Asylum.

The Destitute Asylum also operated the Lying-In Home for destitute expectant mothers.

Records of the Destitute Board and Asylum can be an important source of information for family historians.
These records can give a snapshots of our ancestors at different stages of their lives. 
These records can also provide extra information, such as when someone arrived in South Australia and what ship they travelled on.

Records Held

We hold records relating to the care and relief for people who were destitute and had no means to support themselves.

The Destitute Asylum was a place of refuge for:

  • those who were unable to work due to age, infirmity or disability
  • destitute expectant mothers.

There is often an overlap with cases of Children in State based care.

There may be cases also recorded in the records of the Magill Old Folks' Home.

Access conditions

Records relating to destitution are typically restricted from general public access for 100 years, to protect sensitive personal information. People have a right to apply for access to restricted records.

Indexes and Digitised Records

Alphabetical list of sick and destitute emigrants, who have received relief from the Emigration Department during 1840.

This list also gives name of ship and date of arrival.

Index to GRG24/1 Returns of sick and destitute emigrants, 1840

This series records admissions of pregnant women to the Lying-In Home operated by the Destitute Board in Flinders Street, Adelaide. The index provides information about how to access these records online.

Index to GRG 28/34 Admissions to the Destitute Lying-in Home, Flinders Street, 1865-1868 - alphabetical by surname

Digitised records on FamilySearch - Register of admissions to the Destitute Lying-In Home, Flinders Street, 1865-1868

This series records licence holders and addresses of lying-in homes from metropolitan, suburban and rural areas of South Australia.

Index to GRG 27/14 Register of applications and licences issued, 1900-1910 - alphabetical by surname of applicant

Register of applications and licences issued to keep lying-in homes

Page last updated: 7 September 2022