Forgotten Australians

Protect vulnerable children

 Coral Miller  11 November, 2010

It has almost been one year since former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and former opposition leader Malcolm Turnbull apologised to the Forgotten Australians and Child Migrants on behalf of the people of Australia.

On 16 November, Forgotten Australians from all over the country, supported by the ACT Women and Prisons group (WAP), will march across Commonwealth Avenue Bridge to Parliament House to mark this historic occasion.

The purpose of the march is to pay tribute to the estimated half a million Indigenous, non-Indigenous and migrant children who were put into institutions, orphanages and out-of-home care throughout the twentieth century.

‘Many Forgotten Australians, ‘state wards’ or “homies” as we often call ourselves, experienced physical, emotional, psychological and criminal abuse as children.

As a result of this harsh treatment and lack of educational opportunities, issues such as mental illness, unemployment, imprisonment and substance abuse, are common’, says Wilma Robb, ACT resident and Forgotten Australian.

The march aims to draw attention to key policy issues such as the need for better access to health care and other services, and the lack of a nationally consistent, on-going redress scheme for Forgotten Australians.

‘The Apology was hugely important for Forgotten Australians, but many still face significant legal and financial barriers to accessing redress through the courts. For example, redress schemes exist in only 3 states

The march on Tuesday is not just about the past: it is about making sure that the traumatic experiences of Forgotten Australians inform current and future policies relating to child protection and institutional care systems.

Vulnerable children in state care are still being neglected and abused within these systems today as in the past. “The mistakes of the past should not be allowed to be repeated’.

Poster advertising a Canberra march on the anniversary of the National Apology