Media Release by The Hon Jenny Macklin MP

Reconnecting Forgotten Australians and Former Child Migrants with their families

More support for Forgotten Australians and Former Child Migrants to reconnect with their families will be available online and through key advocacy agencies in the coming months.

The Australian Government is providing more than $3 million in the first phase of investment in the national Find and Connect service to help Forgotten Australians and former child migrants access professional counselling services, trace their personal and family histories and reunite with family members where possible.

The Find and Connect service was part of the Government’s commitments made at the 2009 National Apology to the more than 500,000 Forgotten Australians and Former Child Migrants – many of whom suffered abuse and neglect while in out-of-home care last century.

The funding will support:

  • A national Find and Connect website and database of records to help care leavers find records held by past care provider organisations and government agencies, including counseling support. The University of Melbourne and the Australian Catholic University have been selected to deliver the new website and develop and publish the searchable database, which will be available later this year.
  • Care Leavers Australian Network (CLAN) based in Sydney to expand its counselling support and to maintain its advocacy role.
  • The Alliance for Forgotten Australians to expand its role in advocacy including a national Ambassador program to educate service providers and the broader community about the special needs of care leavers as they age.
  • Additional social workers to extend the national outreach program for Former Child Migrants, where they live – delivered through the Child Migrants Trust.
  • Strengthened information sharing and social connections for Former Child Migrants and their families through a quarterly newsletter delivered by the International Association of Former Child Migrants and their Families.

The Government will work with community agencies, and the states and territories, to encourage timely access and the supported release of historical records to care leavers.

The Government will also continue its close engagement with care leavers, State and Territory Governments and other stakeholders in the sector as it designs the next phase of implementation of national find and connect services from November 2011.

We know that for many Forgotten Australians and child migrants who grew up in institutional and foster care, the feelings of loss and abandonment have remained with them throughout their lives.

Providing services to help them reconnect with their identity and with their families where this is possible is one way the Government can help heal the legacy of the trauma and loneliness of lost childhoods.