No light shines for the forgotten Australians. Why?

Another letter to The Age which didn’t make it.

But let me share it with you.

Simon Gardner (Royal commission can shine a light on ‘forgotten’ people – Age 5/8) writes: ‘Mention the stolen generations and child migrants and eyes light up in recognition…No such light shines for the forgotten Australians. Why?’ I can supply some reasons.

Many former wards of state were not forgotten. My parents tried repeatedly to get me out of state ‘care’. More to the point the term ‘forgotten’ is a limp synopsis of the childhoods of many of us who were not able to live with our parents.

The very word deflects attention away from the real experience – widespread emotional, physical and sexual abuse, criminal violence, humiliation and deprivation, and lack of love and affection.

I do not expect the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse will use the word ‘forgotten’. It’s trite and hackneyed. It’s been trotted out from Bob Menzies (Forgotten People 1942) to the Human Rights Commission (Forgotten Children 2014).

If justice is going to come about it will be because of the relentless lobbying and awareness raising of former wards and residents of orphanages, children’s Homes and foster ‘care’, not by slogans foisted on them by well-meaning social workers and policy wonks.

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