Tweet Facebook Mail The Alliance of Forgotten Australians has appealed to state and federal governments, demanding prioritised access to long-awaited services and support.Speaking on behalf of the Alliance, chairperson Caroline Carroll said that with many Forgotten Australians now aged somewhere between their 50s and mid-80s, the time to act is now.“We’ve had the senate inquiry, state inquiries, we’ve had the royal commission – state and federal governments know what went wrong,” she told 9news.com.au.“It’s time for them to treat Forgotten Australians as a priority group in aging, disability, dental, medical, housing services and support.“Give us some respect and some dignity in the latter days of our lives.”Ms Carroll’s call comes more than 12 years after a senate inquiry was launched into the experiences of children who grew up in institutional or other out-of-home care arrangements, such as homes and orphanages, during the 20th century.The Senate Committee reported receiving “hundreds of graphic and disturbing accounts” by former care leavers of “emotional, physical and sexual abuse, and often criminal physical and sexual assault…neglect, humiliation and deprivation of food, education and healthcare”.RelatedRush to publish COVID-19 research saw errors in top medical journals triple, study findsNew health alert in South Australia after positive COVID-19 case breached quarantineTwo new coronavirus cases reported in South AustraliaMany care leavers have subsequently reported suffering trauma, major psychiatric disabilities and psychological problems as a result of their experiences.The report led to a number of redress schemes in some states – with the exclusion of New South Wales and Victoria – as well as funding for ‘Find and Connect Services’, which assist care leavers with accessing records, information, counselling, support and other resources.Caroline Carroll, Chair of the Alliance for Forgotten Australians, speaks during an interview in Sydney in 2009. (AFP)Ms Carroll believes the $9.77 million in federal funding, distributed across eleven separate nation-wide services over two years, is not enough.“It’s appalling,” she said.Ms Carroll has also pointed out that a number of recommendations made in the Forgotten Australians report, which include funding for dedicated health prevention schemes and aged care services for care leavers, are yet to be adopted by the federal government.The Australian Department of Social Services (DSS) said in a statement that the government is committed to ongoing support for Forgotten Australians and recognises them as a special needs group.The DSS pointed to $6.5 billion in funding, dedicated to ensuring Australians have access to affordable housing, but did not identify whether any amount had been specifically earmarked for care leavers.The department also said it has since developed and distributed education and informational materials to better inform aged care providers and carers about the “special needs of care leavers”, in response to the Forgotten Australians report’s Recommendation 27.Ms Carroll has also condemned the federal government for failing to give its full scrutiny to a number of state-run homes where abuse is alleged to have occurred.“The focus [of the royal commission] has been on churches and charities, allowing state governments [like those that ran Linnwood] off the hook,” she said.9news.com.au has spoken to a range of former state wards who attended one such facility: Linnwood Hall, a residential girls school for wards aged 14 years and older in Guildford, New South Wales.Linnwood Hall, in the days when it was still a home for school-age girls. (FACS NSW)Linnwood today. (Ehsan Knopf/9NEWS)Royal commission witness and Indigenous Australian Mary Farrell, 57, who attended Linnwood in 1971, said she was repeatedly sexually abused by a male staff member.Ms Farrell later came forward to give evidence about abuse suffered at Linnwood and other institutions at the Wood Royal Commission in 1996 and the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse in 2014.Two of her alleged abusers, Superintendent Noel Greenaway, and former head of Parramatta Girls School, Frank Valentine, were investigated by police.In 2002, a community led campaign succeeded in saving Linnwood Estate from being sold and redeveloped. (Ehsan Knopf/9NEWS)The Friends of Linnwood group hold a number of open days and public meetings on the premises. (Ehsan Knopf/9NEWS)A number of Linnwood rooms are also now available for hire to the public. (Ehsan Knopf/9NEWS)Girls living at Linnwood Hall said that disobedience was often punished by imprisonment in the "clink", a narrow cell with minimum comforts, where they were isolated from other girls, for days and sometimes weeks at a time. (Ehsan Knopf/9NEWS)Police have confirmed the investigation is ongoing.Ms Carroll, herself a resident at Linnwood, said she saw several Linnwood girls subjected to violence that ranged from a headmistress jumping on and kicking one student, to knocking another out with a blow to the head.Jane Bradshaw, 59, stayed briefly at Linnwood Hall for a month in 1969 at age 13, and said the state failed to protect her against repeated sexual abuse while she was in its care.“You never stop thinking about it,” Ms Bradshaw said.Before and after; care leaver Nola Chlopek, 68, was one of many women who lived at Linnwood Hall as a child. (FACS NSW/Nola Chlopek)“You put on a mask every day to survive.”Nola Chlopek, 68, who stayed at Linnwood in 1960, reports ending up in state care at the age of 12, after being falsely reported as neglected.“It fractured our whole family and our lives,” she said.An estimated 500,000 Australian children were placed in institutional or out-of-home care in the last century.Former wards seeking access to the Find & Connect service should call 1800 16 11 09 or go to www.findandconnect.gov.au.The National Library of Australia has developed an oral history project involving the testimony of 209 Forgotten Australians about their experiences in institutional care. Their interviews can be accessed here.A commemorative booklet recording the journey involved in creating this oral history is also available online.
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