Apology to the Forgotten Australians and Former Child Migrants

The Australian Government delivered a formal apology to the Forgotten Australians and former child migrants at a special remembrance event in Canberra on Monday 16 November 2009.

A moving ceremony was held in the Great Hall in Parliament House where the Prime Minister apologised, on behalf of the nation, to more than 500,000 Australians - many of whom suffered abuse and neglect while in out-of-home care during the last century.

The heartfelt speeches acknowledged that the treatment of these children was unacceptable and conveyed a sincere hope that the national acknowledgement of the trauma experienced by these people would help to begin the healing process.  The apology acknowledged that what happened in the past was both real and wrong.  It has helped to ensure that a largely invisible part of our history is put firmly on the record and served as a reminder of what happened to many of these children - the loss of family, the loss of identity and, in the case of child migrants, the loss of their country.

Around 900 people who spent time in out-of-home care travelled from across Australia to attend the event at Parliament House, as well as state and territory ministers, senators, members of Parliament and the general public.  The event was an emotional reunification for some and an opportunity to build new friendships and networks for others.

The apology was tabled in the House of Representatives and in the Senate, and followed by a number of moving constituency statements. These can be viewed through the Parliament of Australia website Hansard records under previous sitting days.

Some states also held concurrent events and a live broadcast of the apology was shown on the ABC and SKY for those people who are unable to attend the ceremony in Canberra.

A list of questions and answers about the apology is available.

The apology recognised that many Forgotten Australians and former child migrants continue to face a range of complex issues, including mental and physical illness, homelessness, substance abuse, educational and family relationship difficulties, as a result of their experiences in out-of-home care. A number of new initiatives have been developed to cater to the unique needs of these Australians.

Information about the Government’s new Find and Connect service is available.

Further information about supports and services for Care Leavers is also available on the DSS website.

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Content Updated: 7 November 2013