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’.