Trust Me, I'm a Storyteller

August 31, 2009

Not Before Time – An Apology for the Forgotten Australians

Filed under: Uncategorized — roundtablewriting @ 6:47 am

Finally, Forgotten Australians are to be given a public apology for the horrific and brutal treatment they received as State Wards or inmates of Dickensian style ‘homes’ where they were put into ‘care’.

Media release at:

A great many Australians, if not most, applauded the public apology on behalf of Australia to the Stolen Generation. It was a moving, sincere and long-awaited recognition of the terrible treatment inflicted upon them. While there are still many issues to be resolved it was a great moment in Australian history.

Now, thanks to many dedicated and persistent advocates, not least Leonie Sheedy from Care Leavers of Australia Network (CLAN) and also the comments by forthright columnist Kerry-Anne Walsh, The Forgotten Australians have been promised a public apology with the same solemnity with which the Stolen Generation were given an apology. This apology is also well overdue and I hope fervently that it will be given and taken in the same spirit of generosity.

Kerry-Anne’s article can be read at:

Here is an article about the Forgotten Australians with links to websites giving more information and background about the Forgotten Australians and their horrific history.,23739,26002515-953,00.html

CLAN provides Australia-wide advocacy and support for those who have been in ‘care’ or ‘homes’ and/or were made State wards. It was started by volunteer Care-Leavers themselves and has grown from a small number to a large organisation that has at last been given some funding to operate an office and key staff. Leonie and Joanne and many others have worked tirelessly to advocate for Care Leavers of Australia and it is great to be able to congratulate them on all that they have done and especially for this huge achievement that they have worked towards—an apology from the country for the suffering of the children who are now the Forgotten Australians.

It is a flint-hearted person who can read through the history of what happened to these children, as well as the Mullighan Report into the Inquiry into State Wards and Children’s Homes in South Australia, without being at least concerned, if not angry and upset, about what they went through as children and how they continue to suffer to this day. This is not simply about the past and different times, it is very much about people who are alive today and trying to cope with life with very few life-skills and often with physical, mental and/or emotional damage from their experiences as children in ‘care’.

Most of the institutions that exploited and damaged these people when they were children continue to treat them with disdain and disrespect and continue to fight them in the courts with everything they can throw at them, despite the power and financial imbalance.

Another site dedicated to Forgotten Australians, with many links to papers, reports and other information is:

If you want to know more you can read the report by Justice Mullighan of the Enquiry at:,%20justice%20and%20the%20law/Mullighan%20Inquiry

And the responses on the ABC Radio National website at:

Writing Tip

Write about a incident from childhood. How well can you recall the details? What was life like then? What has changed? Can you remember the games you played? Focus on a particular event or incident and see how much detail you can recall and draft a story. It can be happy, poignant, inspirational, insightful, entertaining, confronting–it depends on your circumstances and the details that you remember. If you are interested in writing your life story or memoirs, I recommend the book “Writing Your Life” by Patty Miller.



  1. I dont think the apology is worth a hill of beans.It wont give me back the first 16 years of my life nor will it take away the nightmares.I am 57 and still have nightmares about my treatment as a child.It is a political stunt and that is all.No-one can apologise for what another generation has done.Maybe the politicians now are sorry but it wont change what we went through.Nor will it make a difference when all is said and done.Just more lipservice.We really just have to grin and bear it and hope it doesn’t happen again.

    Comment by jenny — September 22, 2009 @ 4:06 am | Reply

  2. Hi Jenny,
    Thanks for taking the time to respond. Your opinion is as valid as everyone else’s opinion. I am glad you can speak out and say what you think and how you feel. You have every right to feel cynical about the apology.

    Others believe that while an apology might not be a real personal apology, particularly from the institutions which are still denying and fighting claims from survivors of the abuse, at least it acknowledges that these things did happen. Some of the people who committed the horrific abuse on children are still enjoying their lives today and should be shamed. The abuse wasn’t made up and the children didn’t lie. Some forgotten Australians think it is better out in the open than hidden away as if it had never happened.

    If we don’t want the same thing happening again and again then it has to be acknowledged so that people really understand that it happened, here, in Australia; and Australians let it happen. We have to do more than hope it won’t happen again, we have to make sure it doesn’t happen again.

    I do know that for most forgotten Australians or ‘homies’ there will be no peace—ever.

    I really do appreciate your comments.

    Comment by roundtablewriting — September 25, 2009 @ 10:51 pm | Reply

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