If you are a care leaver or former ward of the state, Family information networks and discovery can assist with you with your records.
Victorian former wards of the state are people who were removed from their families and placed in government or church operated orphanages, children's homes or foster care as children. The Victorian government took legal responsibility for their care.
The Victorian Government estimates that more than 100,000 children were placed in institutional or foster care in Victoria between 1928 and 2003 and over half of these children were made wards of the State.
The Senate Community Affairs Reference Committee 2004, Forgotten Australians, a report on Australians who experienced institutional or out-of-home care as children, described may children as having experienced abuse or neglect when in care and continuing to be affected by these experiences into their adult life.
Many state ward's experiences have had a profound influence on their health, wellbeing and disconnection from their families.
The Children and Young Persons Act 1988 introduced a new legislative framework and children were placed under Guardianship rather than wardship. This act was later replaced by the Children, Youth and Families Act 2005. If you were a Child protection client and were in Out of home care, during the period post 1989, there are also likely to be records about you and which you are entitled to receive.
For many reasons, people want to find out more about their own or their family members' experience as a Victorian state ward or more recent care leavers who were under the Guardianship of the state.
The option of supported release
The Family Information Networks and Discovery program (FIND) can assist you with your application for records.
- Assist you to complete the application form if requested
- When your receive your records – help you make sense of them - the historical context, the language used, and how records were written
- Discuss anything in your records which you might find upsetting
- Explain why some information may have been edited from your records
- Assist submit a new application if it seems that more information or records may be available
- Identify possible other supports including access to counselling
- Provide you with advice if there is a reference to adoption of a family member in the file
- Assist you to make an annotation to your file to address any inaccuracies or misrepresentations if requested by you.
For more information on the option of supported release, call the FIND Duty worker on (03) 8608 5700 or on 1300 769 926.
An application for institutional and Out of home care records held by the department can be made to the Freedom of Information unit.
Making contact with family members
People placed in state care have lost contact with their family. FIND can assist you to discover information that may assist your family members to re-establish contact. The department funded service Open Place provides support services to all Victorian Forgotten Australians regardless of where they currently reside in Australia. Care leavers Australia Network (CLAN), a national organisation, also provides support.