New Service to Mark National Apology Anniversary
18 November 2010 at 2:33 pm
To mark the first anniversary of the national apology to the Forgotten Australians and former child migrants, the Gillard Government has released details of a new nationwide Find and Connect Service to trace personal and family histories.
One year ago the Rudd Government acknowledged the abuse and neglect experienced by an estimated 500,000 children and 7,000 child migrants placed in institutional or out of home care in the last century.
The Federal Government has committed $26.5 million in this year’s Budget to deliver the new national Find and Connect Service to help 'care leavers' locate their personal files, piece together their past and, where possible, reunite with family members.
The Find and Connect Service will be launched in April next year.
The Australian Government will advertise shortly to select a service provider to operate the new service.
The new Find and Connect Service will include:
- A national website and single online access point to help Forgotten Australians and former child migrants find their records held by past care providers and government agencies;
- A national 1800 telephone number for care leavers to call if they want to speak with trained staff to help them locate their personal records;
- Specialised Find and Connect workers in every state and territory to provide hands on assistance in locating and accessing personal records and, where possible, reunite with family members; and
- New counselling services specifically for Forgotten Australians and former child migrants, as they trace their records and families. Counsellors will be appropriately trained and qualified.
The Government has also released the results of an independent scoping study which was commissioned to ensure the service would best meet the needs of Forgotten Australians and former child migrants recommending a national model of management.
The proposed model envisages integration with state-funded ARCs and tracing services, rather than duplication.
It is proposed that the national Find and Connect Service would have a developmental role in promoting the cross-sector adoption of national standards around release of information, and in supporting work around records management. These development roles would support the making available of, and the release of, personal records.
The report says the model needs to include strong strategic leadership, given the ongoing developmental requirements and need to work with all jurisdictions and the community sector. Other features are an emphasis on quality assurance and monitoring, given the duty of care owed to care leavers.
It says it must be accessible across jurisdictional boundaries and geographic areas. In particular, the service must have high levels of transparency with strong two-way communication with care leaver representatives. This includes having a simple and well advertised complaints and grievance resolution procedure for service users.
The study included extensive consultations with Forgotten Australians and former child migrants, as well as state and territory governments, and past care providers.
The Minister for Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs, Jenny Macklin says the Government is considering how best to implement the new service, based on the report’s recommendations.
The scoping study was undertaken through consultation with government officials across the eight jurisdictions, 105 care leavers (Forgotten Australians, former child migrants, members of the Stolen Generations and other care leavers), 25 agencies and representative groups providing aftercare, tracing and support services, 36 representatives of past providers of accommodation to care leavers, and 23 representatives of other relevant non-government organisations.