No Light Shines for the ‘Forgotten Australians’

Of all the things that happened to vulnerable children in institutional ‘care’, the  word ‘forgotten’ is so lame and tame.

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‘The forgotten Aussies crying out to be noticed,’ said the headline.

‘They have little influence on the national agenda, they struggle to stay connected and the things they care about are at the bottom of every list.’ Read more here.

Sadly,  they are not talking about the ‘Forgotten Australians’ of the Senate report of that name published in 2004 and used by many Care Leavers since that time as a nick name. This highlights one of the main problems of that title.

Too many Australians (rightfully) use the adjective to describe their plight. Using the same expression as a descriptor,  former Wards of State, Homies, people who grew up in orphanages and other institutions like foster ‘care’ all compete with a myriad of others who want public support for their causes.

The general public have no idea of the widespread emotional, physical and sexual abuse, criminal violence, humiliation and deprivation, and lack of love and affection experienced by children in these places.

Of all the things that happened to vulnerable children, the  word ‘forgotten’ is so lame and tame. 

 

Older Comment

This is a re-placement of a piece first posted on 7 August 2015. I wanted to make the same point again and give it its own page rather than be buried on a page with another post.

It was originally a letter to the editor of The Age (Melbourne) that did not get a run.  I have only slightly changed its contents. The central arguments are reinforced.

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?’ Simon’s answers are not the same as mine.

For starters, many former wards of state were not forgotten. My parents tried repeatedly to get me out of state ‘care’. And judging by the number of children who jumped the wall, ran away, absconded, they were not going to be passive

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 ‘forgotten’ deflects attention away from the real experience. Many would say, ‘If we’d only been forgotten and left alone’. Instead, in the so-called  ‘care’ of government, churches and charities and foster parents,  too many suffered 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’ in its final report. The word is 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 not be through  slogans foisted on us by well-meaning politicians, social workers and policy wonks. It will be because of the relentless lobbying and awareness raising of former wards and residents of orphanages, children’s Homes and foster ‘care’,  We refuse to be ‘forgotten’. 

3 thoughts on “No Light Shines for the ‘Forgotten Australians’”

  1. ‘… slogans foisted on us by well-meaning politicians, social workers and policy wonks.’

    I don’t think there is anything ‘well-meaning’ of these people at all, I think the title was carefully chosen to make sure we remain forgotten and because of the acronym…FA…FA is all we shall get in any way shape or form…else the royal commission would not be hiding our stories!

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