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Media Release by Senator the Hon Kay Patterson

Funding to support care leavers

Professional and specialised counselling services for people who grew up in institutional or out-of-home care and their families will be increased with funding under the Local Answers initiative of the Stronger Families and Communities Strategy.

The Minister for Family and Community Services, Senator Kay Patterson, today announced that interim funding of up to $100,000 would be provided to the Care Leavers of Australia Network (CLAN) for counselling services in 2005.

The funding is in response to an urgent need identified by CLAN following the release of the Senate Community Affairs Committee’s report, Forgotten Australians: A report on Australians who experienced institutional or out-of-home care as children. The funding has been provided in advance of the response to the report by the Australian Government, states and territories.

It is estimated that at least 500,000 Australians experienced care in an orphanage, Home or other form of out-of-home care during the last century. Since the beginning of the Senate Inquiry, CLAN has assisted hundreds of care leavers and their families with support, counselling and relationship advice.

CLAN has been active in assisting care leavers to tell their stories, which has proved confronting and traumatic for many of these brave people. The counselling support will assist people who are having difficulty resolving past hurts and forming solid and stable relationships now, Senator Patterson said.

The majority of the report’s 39 recommendations are aimed at state and territory governments, churches and other non-government agencies, in recognition of their primary responsibility for the well being of children in institutional care.

The report also makes a number of recommendations for the Australian Government, and we are considering those recommendations. The Australian Government is also working with state and territory governments to address issues where both levels of government can contribute, Senator Patterson said.

Senator Sue Knowles, Deputy Chair of the committee, which delivered the report, today welcomed the funding.

Leonie and Joanna, who run the service, have been doing an outstanding job of supporting the survivors of abuse, but they can’t be expected to do it without professional assistance forever.

The provisions of qualified personnel will not only assist CLAN but all those who so desperately need the ongoing support required for their general well-being, Senator Knowles said.