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Presentation on theme: "STRUGGLING TO KEEP IT TOGETHER LIFE IN CHILDREN’S INSTITUTIONS AND ITS AFTERMATH Survey Report 2010 for ACWA Conference Report: Frank Golding and Leonie."— Presentation transcript:

1 STRUGGLING TO KEEP IT TOGETHER LIFE IN CHILDREN’S INSTITUTIONS AND ITS AFTERMATH Survey Report 2010 for ACWA Conference Report: Frank Golding and Leonie Sheedy

2 CLAN is sincerely appreciative to the 520 Care Leavers who freely gave insights into their childhood experiences and their adult lives. CLAN understands the great difficulty of revisiting unhappy childhoods and reflecting on experiences after leaving “care”. The valuable evidence they have contributed will assist CLAN in advocating for the needs of Care Leavers, and to assist and inform Government agencies.

3 Of the 520 respondents, 55% were women and 45% were men, with ages ranging from 27 years to 89 years. Just fewer than 90% are 50 years old or older and nearly 46% are over 60.

4 Respondents were from all states and even some overseas, however, majority, nearly 80%, are from NSW, Victoria and Queensland.


6 LEAVING CARE Some comments: “I was sent back to abusive Father” “I went back to the same alcoholic parents that I was taken from - nothing had changed” “I was welcomed back to hell and mental abuse - but the sexual and physical abuse stopped - I was strong” “I was sent back home to parents but ran away due to violence at home” “I was returned to my abusive Mother where her boyfriends attempted to molest me”


8 IMPACT OF CHILDHOOD ON ADULT LIFE The formula seems clear: Separation from parents and siblings + A childhood of neglect and abuse = An adulthood of social exclusion and entrenched multiple disadvantage

9 People who lived in a household where no person is employed. CLAN Survey: the number of households in which there was no person in paid employment was 40% and long-term unemployment was prevalent. People in the bottom 30% of equivalent household disposable income who would not be able to raise $2,000 within a week. CLAN Survey: Only 28% said they could raise $2,000 and a further 19% said maybe – while 53% said definitely not. People who are not able to get support in times of crisis from people living outside the household which may impact adversely on their ability to participate in the community. CLAN Survey: Fewer than 60% said they could get help and just over 40% said no or were uncertain; as well the CLAN Survey shows the extent to which Care Leavers are disconnected from family and community.

10 People whose self-assessed health status was fair or poor. CLAN Survey: 60% reported their physical health to be fair, poor or very poor; while 57% reported their mental health to be fair, poor or very poor. People aged 20 years or more who had not completed year 10 or higher at school. CLAN Survey: More than a quarter had no schooling beyond primary level and more 50% were not given the opportunity to gain the first certificate level of secondary schooling – Year 10. Institutionalised children were offered inferior schooling with life- long negative effects on employment and earning capacity. People who felt unsafe or very unsafe at home alone after dark. CLAN Survey: As many as 121 people felt unsafe or very unsafe (out of 520 = 23%). Compare this with the Social Inclusion Board: In 2006, 7% of Australian adults felt unsafe or very unsafe alone at home after dark.

11 EMPLOYMENT ‘I can’t work full time due to serious back pain inflicted as a child in homes.’ ‘Retired at 39 years due to psychological problems when I found out my parents were alive after hearing they were dead when I was in the home.’ ‘Ill for many years due to treatment from the system - lost a lot of income.’ ‘Because of lack of education in homes I am only able to get menial labour jobs.’ ‘Very difficult to keep a job, I have an issue with authority - suffer depression and anxiety.’ ‘When I told the job capacity manager about the Forgotten Australians, she said, “Centrelink has an Indigenous service officer, go there.” I am white!

12 EFFECTS OF “CARE” ‘I can't trust anyone.’ ‘My alcohol problem came about to forget the homes.’ ‘I am continually haunted by my past.’ A lot of us were treated as P.O.W.S "prisoners in welfare system" I've listen to old diggers and I'm an ex vet but kids were treated as bad as them. Some worse, some the same, some were lucky to have not been scarred, but we will never forget them.

13 Respondents marked more than one option however the most commonly founded themes were trusting people, difficulties with relationships, psychological issues, physical pain and problems as a parent.

14 FAMILY CONTACT The Social Inclusion Board reported that about 96% Australians have contact with friends and family outside the household at least once a week: “Having regular contact with family or friends provides many benefits. Communicating with friends or family can assist people to feel connected, cared for, and part of a strong family or social network. Regular communication with friends and family also means that when people are faced with challenges it is more likely that they will have someone to whom go to for support or to talk to.”

15 INTERGENERATIONAL “CARE” Although most respondents acknowledged bad experiences of growing up in “care” of the 520 respondents, over 40% said that they were not the first generation of Care Leavers.

16 However, 75 respondents noted that their children or grandchildren have been in “care” and the cycle has been repeated with the next generation.

17 ‘ I had my second daughter adopted out because I thought I wasn't a good mother. Nurses used to tell me when I was eleven that I wouldn't be any good. My first daughter I kept and she is a drug addict - I wasn't any good in the end. I had 4 abortions as well.’ ‘After 2nd marriage - I had a nervous breakdown because of physical abuse; I was sent to psychiatric care and children in state care - this still upsets and impacts them today.’ ‘Children were taken away when I left my violent husband - no help from DoCS - except them taking kids away.’ ‘Became pregnant at 17 - my mum didn't want anything to do with me. I had no support and gave the baby up for adoption.’ ‘I did not have the skills necessary to raise my son I gave him up willingly.’ Seven respondents acknowledged that they chose not to have children; whilst the majority of respondents had similar opinions acknowledging that “over my dead body will any of my children go into "care"’ as many try to break the cycle.

18 SERVICES FOR CARE LEAVERS The most frequently used service (defined as used once or more in the past 12 months) was counselling. It is clear that counselling by its very nature tends to be a recurring activity whereas the next most frequently used service.


20 WHAT STOPS YOU FROM USING SERVICES? When asked what stops you using these services, the five main recurring messages were: I NFORMATION BARRIERS : Did not know about or did not know how to use the service - 115 respondents P RACTICAL BARRIERS : Distance; or not available where I live; live in another State from where I grew up; Not eligible; Cost and time - 106 respondents E MOTIONAL OR PSYCHOLOGICAL BARRIERS : Shame or fear; Reminds me of my childhood; Can bring up painful memories; Stress; Mental health; Self-esteem; pride; Can’t mix with people in groups - 60 respondents S ERVICE PROVIDER BARRIERS : Mistrust of, or lack confidence in, service providers; Prefer to deal only with Care Leavers; Waste of time - 45 respondents D ON ’ T NEED A SERVICE - 39 respondents

21 REDRESS APPLICATIONS AND OUTCOMES 186 respondents said they did not know anything about Redress. 50 respondents applied and received a payout from: - QLD Redress – 25 respondents - Churches and charities – 22 respondents - TAS Redress – 3 respondents


23 AGED CARE Of the 520 respondents, 139 respondents declared they would never live in “care” again; this is particularly due to the fear of abuse, reinstitutionalisation and as well as finishing their life the way they started – living in an institution.




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