Politics, Community & Society > An Apology for the Forgotten Australians

An Apology for the Forgotten Australians

By BARBARA LANE
Published: November 11, 2009

On November 16, 2009, a National Apology will be delivered in Parliament House, Canberra, to former child migrants and those dubbed the “Forgotten Australians”.

The “Forgotten Australians” are the approximately 500,000 Australians who experienced institutional or out-of-home care during the last century, many of whom relate stories of severe abuse and neglect.

Children were placed in institutions for many reasons, including being orphaned, poverty, family breakdown and parental inability to cope. Some were made wards of the State after being charged with being uncontrollable, neglected or in moral danger, not because they had done anything wrong, but because circumstances made them “status offenders”.

The “Lost Innocents” were those who, as children, came to Australian under historical migration schemes.

The Apology will finally fulfill Recommendation No.1 of the Senate Inquiry into Forgotten Australians (2004), the subsequent Senate Inquiry into the Implementation of the Recommendations of the Forgotten Australians and Lost Innocents Inquiries, (June 2009), and recommendations in the “Lost Innocents: righting the record” report of 2001.

Care-leavers from all over Australia welcome the Apology. Leonie Sheedy, of Care Leavers Australia Network (CLAN) said, “It is Vital for this country to heal and for us to heal as individuals”. Most care-leavers would agree that an apology is a crucial part of that healing.

Care-leavers from all over Australia, and some who now live overseas would like to attend the Apology. For those who cannot attend, the Apology will be aired live on ABC television at 11am on Monday, November 16.

Those who wish to attend should ring the Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs (FaHCSIA) on 1800634147.

The writer of this article is a Forgotten Australian and will be attending the Federal Apology, along with other care-leavers from the Northern Rivers area, as a guest of Janelle Saffin MP, who has been a great supporter and lobbyist. Following the occasion, an article relating a personal experience of the day will (hopefully) be posted on Flickspin.

Financial aid to attend is currently available in the form of free or subsidized travel through Greyhound buses and Countrylink.

Aftercare Resource Centre http://www.aftercareresourcecentre.org.au/arc.asp (ARC) in Queensland is offering clients a reimbursement of up to $400 for expenses incurred during the trip to Canberra.

For more information see the CLAN (http://www.clan.org.au/) site and http://www.forgottenaustralians.org.au/

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