The importance of records to people who were in care can’t be underestimated. Records can answer integral questions about identity, and provide knowledge of hidden family. They can fill in lost memories of a childhood. They can provide the information needed for important documents such as birth certificates, passports and licenses. Occasionally, they can provide some understanding of the circumstances that led to a child being placed in care.
This story recently published in the Guardian details the barriers, difficulties and heartbreak that is the experience that can await those desperately searching for their own, and their loved ones’ histories.
Kath Travis features in this story for her many attempts over years to get access to the records of the United Aboriginal Mission for Aboriginal families whose children were stolen.
The records were stored in a ground-floor unit in Williamstown. Most were reported destroyed, erasing the stories of many of the members of the Stolen Generations, and the opportunity for them to find family members unknown to them, or to fill in the gaps of what happened in their childhood.
You can read the Guardian story of the United Aboriginal Mission records here: https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2023/sep/23/a-melbourne-office-held-vital-records-of-aboriginal-childrens-homes-how-did-they-go-missing