ACU researchers help former child migrants reconnect

Monday, 20 June 2011

Researchers at Australian Catholic University (ACU) have received a share in more than $3 million to help reconnect Forgotten Australians and Former Child Migrants with their families. 

Professor Shurlee Swain and Dr Nell Musgrove from ACU’s Faculty of Arts and Sciences will work in collaboration with a team from the University of Melbourne to develop a new website and records database for the national Find and Connect campaign.

The service will help Forgotten Australians and Former Child Migrants access professional counselling services, locate materials that will help to trace their personal and family histories and if possible, reunite with family members.

“This project is a practical coming together of historians, archivists and social workers to address the healing needs of children who grew up in out-of-home care,” Dr Musgrove said.

As part of this project, up to eight historians will join ACU for three years to assist. These historians are experts in child welfare history and will contribute to developing the website.

The Find and Connect website and database of records will hold information which can assist care leavers to find records held by past care provider organisations and government agencies, including counselling support.

“The website will be of great help to groups which support care leavers” said Professor Cathy Humphreys, a University of Melbourne researcher involved in the project. “It gets information in the public space which is accessible to everybody in a standardised way.”

child migrantsChild migrants at Fairbridge Farm School, Molong, NSW. Image courtesy National Archives of Australia.

The Find and Connect service comes as part of a commitment made at the 2009 National Apology issued by the Government to more than 500,000 Forgotten Australians and Former Child Migrants - many of whom suffered abuse and neglect while in out-of-home care during the last century.

ACU’s Professor Swain and Dr Musgrove were both involved in the project prototype, the Victorian-based website ‘Pathways’ which was developed as a resource for people who as children were in out-of-home care in Victoria at any time from the 1840s through until the present.