A comprehensive support and referral program to help the more than 500,000 institutionalised children who were removed from their families and another estimated 7,000 child migrants who were also placed in institutionalised homes has received government funding.
Families and social services minister Anne Ruston announced that $23.4 million would go to delivering specialist trauma-informed counselling, referral services, peer support, education and social support programs as part of what has been dubbed ‘Find and Connect Support Services’.
“True to its name, our national Find and Connect network helps people to uncover their history, trace and reclaim their identities, and build relationships with their families,” Ruston said.
The government funding will be distributed over five years and is expected to support roughly 3,500 people each year with access to specialist trauma-informed counselling, referral services, peer support, education and social support programs.
Children who comprise the group of Forgotten Australians and Former Child Migrants are known as ‘care leavers’, and will be able to use a dedicated website with resources to track down historical records. A free call line (1800 16 11 09) is also available to refer care leavers to appropriate supports, help locate records and where possible, reconnect with family members.
“So many people carry the scars of their lost childhoods and as a result struggle with mental health, loss of education and family relationship difficulties,” Ruston said.
“We cannot reverse the wrongs of the past, but this government is dedicated to providing assistance to every Forgotten Australian and Former Child Migrant who needs it.”
Find and Connect also supports sector representation for care leavers through funding groups such as the Alliance for Forgotten Australians, Care Leavers Australasia Network and the Child Migrants Trust.
The minister’s announcement was made on Tuesday, marking 12 years since the first National Apology for Forgotten Australians and Former Child Migrants.