From today, a comprehensive record of personal stories from more than 200 Forgotten Australians and Former Child Migrants will have a permanent place in the National Library of Australia.
On the third anniversary of the National Apology to the Forgotten Australians and Former Child Migrants, Labor Senator for Queensland, Claire Moore, launched the National Library’s oral history project and a new commemorative booklet – You can’t forget things like that.
The Australian Government provided $1.7 million to the National Library for the project, which has been completed over three years and with more than 600 hours of interviews with care leavers about their experiences as children in foster homes and institutional care.
More than 200 interviews with care leavers, advocates, welfare officers and former employees of these institutions will now be permanently held in the National Library – a lasting record of the terrible abuse and neglect that Forgotten Australians and Former Child Migrants suffered while in out-of-home care last century.
The stories will be preserved in the library and publicly available, together with the commemorative booklet. More than 100 of these interviews can be accessed at www.nla.gov.au.
The National Apology, delivered on behalf of the entire nation, acknowledged the trauma and hurt that was experienced by the estimated 500,000 Forgotten Australians and 7000 Former Child Migrants who grew up in institutional ‘care’, and opened a new chapter of understanding and healing.
Since then, the Government’s initiatives have included:
- A national network of Find and Connect support services providing personalised support and counselling, assistance with obtaining personal records and tracing and reconnecting with family;
- Phone support from Find and Connect specialist staff through a new national hotline – 1800 16 11 09;
- The Find and Connect web resource, www.findandconnect.gov.au, to help Forgotten Australians and Former Child Migrants find records held by past care providers and government agencies; and
- The National Museum of Australia exhibition – Life in children’s homes and institutions – which tells the stories of Forgotten Australians and Former Child Migrants.
Also to mark the third anniversary, a permanent calligraphy display of the National Apology is being showcased for visitors to Parliament House.
The anniversary of the Apology to the Forgotten Australians and Former Child Migrants comes after the Prime Minister’s announcement this week that the Government would recommend to the Governor General the establishment of a Royal Commission into instances and allegations of child sexual abuse that occurred while children were in the care of church, state and non-government institutions in Australia.
Many Forgotten Australians and former child migrants experienced terrible sexual abuse while in ‘care’ in the last century and this Royal Commission will investigate the responses by institutions to this abuse, and how these children were let down by those responsible for their welfare.
While we can’t change the past, or erase the hurt that comes with it, we can help to heal the legacy of lost childhoods.