Media Release by The Hon Jenny Macklin MP

Australian Government to apologise to Forgotten Australians and Lost Innocents

The Australian Government acknowledges that the abuse and neglect suffered by many children in institutional or other out-of-home care during the last century was unacceptable.

Today marks the anniversaries of the landmark tabling of the Senate Community Affairs Committee’s Lost Innocents – Righting the Record (2001) and Forgotten Australians: A report on Australians who experienced institutional or out-of-home care as children (2004) reports.

The Australian Government believes it is now time to apologise.

By the end of 2009 the Australian Government will issue a formal statement of acknowledgement and apology, on behalf of the nation, to Forgotten Australians and former child migrants. In the spirit of the bipartisan nature of the Senate Inquiry reports, the Government will work with the Opposition to develop the remembrance event.

This is a significant national step in the healing process for Forgotten Australians and former child migrants.

Many former child migrants and other children who were in institutions, their families and the wider community have suffered from a system that did not adequately provide for, or protect children in its care.

In June this year, a further Senate Inquiry reported on progress since the 2001 and 2004 reports. This report said more needed to be done. The apology will address recommendations 1 and 2 of this recent report and the Government will table a full, formal response in coming months.

To further help the healing process, the Government is also providing $300,000 each to both the Alliance for Forgotten Australians (AFA) and the Care Leavers Australia Network (CLAN), over the next two years. We will work with these organisations to make sure that care leavers can get the practical support and information they need.

We will also be consulting broadly with state and territory governments, past care providers and those affected by these practices to develop the apology and the path ahead.

We have also begun a dialogue with mothers and children separated by past adoption practices which were inappropriate or unethical. The Government recognises that the pain and suffering of these women also endures.

We will work with the National Library of Australia, the National Museum of Australia and those who have suffered in the past on how to best to record, for the historical record, the experiences of the Forgotten Australians, former child migrants, and women and children affected by past adoption practices.

To register your interest in being involved in the apology consultation or the history projects please call 1800 050 011 or email