Surviving Care: Achieving Justice and Healing for the Forgotten Australians

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Bond University Press, 2010 - Abused children - 336 pages
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This book seeks to make a significant contribution to a growing body of work that charts what happened to former care residents referred to as the Forgotten Australians and what governments and others have done to address the challenges that face this now aging population. While many former residents have gone on to have productive and fulfilling lives many others have had the opposite experience. Yet what all these people share in common is that they spent time in institutions away from their families, often in very difficult circumstances. Despite a growing number of research studies and autobiographies, we still know remarkably little about the experiences of former care residents and the challenges that now face them.

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Fifteen authors - former care residents, advocates, lawyers and academics from across Australia - contributed to the book. They present moving accounts and insightful reflections which will not only raise public awareness of past and current policy and practice, but galvanise future action.
This book is an important resource for every social justice agency and is recommended as a key reading for social work and community welfare undergraduates and all those currently working with children, families and communities.
While it was known that more than 500,000 people experienced life in over 600 institutions - orphanages, children's homes - and other forms of state/church/charity/foster care in Australia between 1930 and 1980, we did not have a clear picture of their lived experience as a total population. Nor were we conversant with the real rates of related suicide, social isolation, homelessness, addiction, or mental impairment of a significant number arising from their devastating childhood and adolescent emotional neglect. Nor were we aware of the shocking extent of the physical, sexual, or psychological abuse of many "in care" which left them with physical scars and/or impairment, post-traumatic stress disorder, a lifelong loss of trust, and an inability to initiate and maintain stable, loving relationships. Nor did we know the full range of the daunting challenges former care residents now face due to the absence of recognition and support from the general community, and the lack of integration of what scant services there are for older Care Leavers provided either by governments or by the agencies which ran care institutions in the past.
This book gives them a real voice to highlight through personal stories their collective plight and show how as a group they are yet to fully achieve their goals of justice and healing. From an objective examination of what governments and others have done to support this now aging population it clearly identifies what action still needs to be taken in terms of adequate acknowledgement and redress, policy development, social action and improved service delivery.
 

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