Find and Connect is a resource that allows Forgotten Australians, Former Child Migrants and anyone with an interest in the history of child welfare in Australia to access information about the country’s orphanages, children’s homes and other institutions. It provides users with access to personalised support and counselling, their personal information and records, and can help them to reconnect with family members.

Developed by a team of historians, archivists and social workers across every Australian state, the resource is a result of the work of academics and researchers from ACU and the University of Melbourne. The Find and Connect database is part of the larger Department of Social Services program of Find and Connect services and projects, and it receives funding from the Australian government.

Emeritus Professor Shurlee Swain led ACU’s team on the project. One of Australia’s pre-eminent social welfare historians, she was involved in the Who Am I? project, a precursor to Find and Connect, which was funded by an ARC Linkage Grant.

This project involved researching the history of out-of-home care for children in Australia, with a focus on issues surrounding records and memorials relating to Forgotten Australians, which had been highlighted in the Forgotten Australians Report (2004). It brought together historians, social workers, archivists and 15 partner organisations to research and discuss where relevant records were located, how best to provide access and the impact of these issues on people who grew up in out-of-home care.

“Previously, access to full and accurate records was difficult due to there not being a comprehensive or integrated records database within and across Australia’s states and territories,” Professor Swain said.

“The Find and Connect resource now enables care leavers and support services to access records that were previously unavailable. This helps inform counselling and support services, which address the specific issues of trauma experienced by the individual care leaver due to his or her time in care."
Emeritus Professor Shurlee Swain
Fellow of both the Australian Academy of the Humanities and the Academy of the Social Sciences in Australia

“I became involved because I had a long history in the area and an association with (University of Melbourne researchers) Cathy Humphreys from social work and Gavan McCarthy, Director E-Scholarship Research Centre, which led to ACU’s participation.

“ACU provided infrastructure and employed local historians in each state to research, collate and update the material that is now available in this online resource. The project is ongoing as the tool develops further to include maps and more detailed records listings.”

Lead researcher


Emeritus Professor Shurlee Swain

Fellow of both the Australian Academy of the Humanities and the Academy of the Social Sciences in Australia 

This project was developed in collaboration with the e-Scholarship Centre at the University of Melbourne.


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ACU submitted this research as an Impact study in the 2018 ARC Engagement and Impact (EI) assessment. The research received the rank of 'High', meaning the impact made a highly significant contribution to economy, society, environment, or culture, beyond the contribution to academic research. A summary of the impact areas is available in the below infographic.

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