Pre-1990 Care Leavers

People who were in institutional care as children before 1990 (Pre-1990 Care Leavers, also known as Forgotten Australians) can receive support.

The Victorian Government is committed to providing ongoing support to Pre-1990 Care Leavers to address the impact of past practices.  

It is estimated more than 90,000 children were placed in care in Victoria between 1928 and 1992. Many Pre-1990 Care Leavers experienced various forms of abuse such as physical, psychological, emotional and child sexual abuse during their time in care.

The challenges Pre-1990 Care Leavers faced have been documented in numerous inquiries including:  

Recognition of Pre-1990 Care Leaver experiences

On 9 August 2006 the then Premier, Steve Bracks, issued a formal statement of acknowledgement and apology to ‘Forgotten Australians’ for past practices in Victoria and the enduring detrimental effect their care experience has had on their lives.

On 16 November 2009 the then Prime Minister of Australia, Hon Kevin Rudd, issued a formal statement of acknowledgement and apology, on behalf of the nation, to ‘Forgotten Australians and Former Child Migrants’ for the abuse and neglect suffered by many children in institutional or other out-of-home care during the last century across Australia.  

A ‘Forgotten Australians’ memorial was unveiled on 25 October 2010 at Southbank, Victoria as a lasting recognition of the experiences of Pre-1990 Care Leavers.

Services and supports

Open Place

Berry Street Victoria is funded by the Victorian Government to provide Open Place, a specialised state-wide support service for Victorian Pre-1990 Care Leavers. Services include:

  • Professional counselling
  • Coordinated support with:
    • advocacy, information, casework and referrals to community services including health, housing, education and employment services
    • legal information about potential compensation claims and support during the claims process
  • Social support and activity groups that meet monthly throughout Victoria
  • Brokerage support
  • Community education to increase awareness of issues impacting Pre-1990 Care Leavers
  • Richmond drop-in centre where Pre-1990 Care Leavers can meet with each other, use computers, access meals and available facilities.

Open Place is also funded by the Victorian Government as part of the Restore: Victorian Redress Counselling Service (Restore) program to provide specialist counselling, advocacy and support to people who have accepted an offer of redress counselling in Victoria.  For more information about Restore, see National Redress Scheme.

The federal Department of Social Services funds Open Place to provide:

  • Records, Find and Connect Service to assist Pre-1990 Care Leavers to access institutional and ward records, family records and undertake family searches and in some cases family reunions
  • Redress Support Service provides support for people applying, or thinking about applying, for redress through the National Redress Scheme for people who have experienced institutional child sexual abuse.

Open Place transition to Relationships Australia Victoria

After an open and competitive tender process, the Department of Health and Human Services is pleased to announce Relationships Australia Victoria as the new provider of Open Place, commencing 1 July 2020.

Relationships Australia is well placed to take on this new service, having experience working with Pre-1990 Care Leavers and an initial partner with Berry Street Victoria in the delivery of Open Place. Relationships Australia currently provides services to other states and territories. Information about Relationships Australia Victoria is on their website.

The department would like to once again thank the commitment and dedication of Open Place and Berry Street staff who have worked diligently with Pre-1990 Care Leavers and contributed to alleviating the life-long impact of institutional care. The valued services and expert knowledge provided by Open Place and Berry Street Victoria over the past 10 years will provide the foundation for a strong future service.

We would also like to thank those Pre-1990 Care Leavers and stakeholders who generously contributed their views, personal journeys and reflections in the consultations undertaken in late 2019 which informed the tender process. We look forward to these conversations continuing and further informing and shaping the Open Place service with Relationships Australia Victoria.

For more information about the Open Place transition process, see the Open Place transition to new service provider page.

Care leaver Australia network (CLAN)

CLAN is a national, independent, peak body which represents, supports and advocates for Pre-1990 Care Leavers. CLAN offers support to people who have grown up in Orphanages, Children's Homes, Missions and Foster Care in Australia and New Zealand, or whose parents or other family members had this experience. Services include, but are not limited to:

  • Professional counselling
  • Assistance with locating family members and friends
  • Support to access records and ward files
  • Advocacy and referrals
  • Social get-togethers.

CLAN is a member of the Restore program and also funded by the federal Department of Social Services to provide a Redress Support Service.

Find and connect

Find and connect is a website for people who were in out-of-home care as children in Victoria. It tells the story of institutional care in Victoria from its beginnings in the 1840s through to the present.

You can use Find and connect to:

  • Read about and view images of orphanages, homes and other residences
  • Track down records - where they are, who to contact and what to expect
  • Find out about key institutions, agencies, public figures, legislation and policies.

Other support services

There are a number of other agencies that provide support to care leavers and these include:

There are several other organisations that provide support to Pre-1990 Care Leavers including: