Family matters

Forgotten Australians and former child migrants

Tomorrow marks the third anniversary of the National apology to Forgotten Australians and former child migrants.

‘Forgotten Australians’ is a term the Australian Senate has used to describe children who were brought up in orphanages, children’s homes, institutions or foster care in Australia. It is generally used to describe those in care between the period 1920-1970 but can refer to earlier and later periods. On the 16th November 2009, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, apologised on behalf of the nation for the neglect and abuse suffered by many of these children.

A child’s placement could have been arranged by the state (a State ward), by a church or welfare organisation or organised privately.  Records under 100 years old are not in the public domain, but can be requested by the individual in question or their next of kin if no longer living.

If you were a State ward in Victoria, you can request a copy of your file through the Department of Human Services’ FIND service. For those interested in 19th century records, microfiche copies of the Children’s ward registers 1864 – 1899 are held in our Genealogy Centre.

If you were placed in a non government home or orphanage, you need to request your file from the church or organisation that was responsible for your care. The Find & Connect website, lists known children’s institutions that operated in Australia and is a fantastic resource for establishing who holds what records.

If you are a Victorian Forgotten Australian, Open Place can assist you to obtain records of your care. They also provide family searching assistance.

Child migrant records can be found in the National Archives of Australia, state archives and in organisations and churches that were responsible for providing care. If you were a former child migrant, the Child Migrants Trust can assist you to obtain copies of your records.

For more information about researching records of Forgotten Australians and child migrants, please see our Adoption and Forgotten Australians research guide.

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