The history of child welfare in Australia has been written in large part by the organisations that were responsible for “care”, and through the lens of media at the time, which was largely uncritical.
Social values have changed significantly over the course of Australian welfare history – forced adoption, child labour and institutional residence are no longer accepted in the same way they once were.
In part, this is due to those who experienced the child welfare system speaking to their own experience.
Centering the voices of those who experienced care in any conversation about the history of child welfare is imperative to accurately reporting the standards and conditions children were exposed to. For some, placed in caring families after a life of abuse, these experiences were positive. For many, the intervention of child welfare services began or continued a childhood of abuse or neglect.
To recognise the importance of hearing the voice of the people with experience of care, organisations have recorded oral histories – spoken by people who were in care, in their own words, and in their own time.
As part of our commitment to importance of recording the experience of Care Leavers, Forgotten Australians, Wardies, and all those who encountered the child welfare system between 1920 and 1990, we have collated some of these oral history projects here.
Forgotten Australians : Micah Pilot Oral History and Digital Story Project: https://www.slq.qld.gov.au/blog/forgotten-australians-micah-pilot-oral-history-and-digital-story-project
Remembering, honouring and acknowledging former residents of Good Shepherd Homes: An oral history research study (you can read the report here which contains extensive quotes from people: https://goodshep.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2020/12/remembering-honouring-and-acknowledging-former-residents-of-good-shepherd-homes_pdf-1-mb-2.pdf (this is a pdf download of the report, not the oral histories themselves).
Forgotten Australians and Former Child Migrants Oral History Project: https://www.nla.gov.au/oral-history/forgotten-australians-and-former-child-migrants-oral-history-project. Links to the interviews here: https://catalogue.nla.gov.au/Search/Home?lookfor=ORAL+TRC+6200*&filter%5B%5D=format:Online&filter%5B%5D=format:Audio
Bringing Them Home Oral History project: https://www.nla.gov.au/oral-history/bringing-them-home-oral-history-project There are links here to the interviews.
Child Migrants Oral History Project: https://nla.gov.au/nla.cat-vn2314410
Goodwood Orphanage Oral History: https://www.findandconnect.gov.au/ref/sa/biogs/SE00503b.htm
Redfern Oral History: http://redfernoralhistory.org