Second anniversary of the national apology to the Forgotten Australians (2011)

On November 16 2011 WCHM supported the Forgotten Australians to hold an event to celebrate the 2nd anniversary of what was a very emotional and significant event—the Apology by the Australian Parliament to the Forgotten Australians. The event was also supported by Woden Community Services and the ACT Women And Prisons (WAP) group.

At 11am on Monday 16 November 2009, the Australian Parliament, through the then Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, and the Leader of the Opposition, Malcolm Turnbull, formally acknowledged and apologised for the experiences of Forgotten Australians and Child Migrants, their harsh treatment and their ongoing trauma. The apology acknowledged that what happened to half a million people who as children were raised in institutions, orphanages and foster care was both real and wrong. The people who identify as Forgotten Australians today are now adults, some of them in their thirties, some very elderly. The apology recognised that many of them continue today to face a range of complex issues, including mental and physical illness, homelessness, substance abuse, educational and family relationship difficulties, as a result of their experiences in the institutional care system which was the standard form of out-of-home care at that time.

Several Federal and ACT politicians joined the event to show their support for the issues affecting Forgotten Australians and by saying a few words. They included Senator Gary Humphries and Senator Claire Moore who were both members of the Senate Community Affairs References Committee which in 2004 produced the report Forgotten Australians: A report on Australians who experienced institutional or out-of-home care as children, which revealed the history of neglect and cruelty, and of abandonment and exploitation. In recognition that it is an equally relevant and important issue for the ACT Meredith Hunter MLA (the ACT Greens Parliamentary Leader and Member for Ginninderra), and Jeremy Hanson MLA (Shadow Minister for Health, Police, Indigenous Affairs, Veterans’ Affairs, Corrections and Member for Molongolo) both spoke. These speakers were followed by Forgotten Australians John Murray and Ray Jackson who spoke from a personal perspective.

Image: National Museum of Australia