OUR STORY SO FAR
In 2003/04 the Senate Community Affairs Reference Committee held an inquiry known as “Children in Institutional Care”. As a result of this inquiry, two reports were tabled in the Senate. The first report “Forgotten Australians – a report on Australians who experienced institutional or out of home care as children” was tabled in the Senate on 30 August 2004 and the second report “Protecting vulnerable children – A national challenge on the inquiry into children in institutional or out of home care” addressing the needs of children currently in out of home care, was tabled on 17 March 2005.
The Victorian Department of Human Services has for several years provided funding to agencies that provide support services to Forgotten Australians, including VANISH, CLAN and the Child Migrants’ Trust. Through VANISH, Victorian Forgotten Australians received assistance in accessing their records and were able to access funding for counselling support and for life skills programs.
In August 2006 the Victorian State Government made a formal Apology to Victorian Forgotten Australians. In the 2008/09 State Budget the government provided funding of approximately $2 million per year to develop new services to address the needs and issues of people who grew up in institutions or “in care” between the years 1920 and 1989, as a step towards helping people deal with the legacy of their childhood experiences.
As part of the development of the new service, the Department of Human Services undertook an extensive consultation process to enable Forgotten Australians to contribute their views and ideas about what services should be included.
The final report from that consultation process formed the basis of a tender document outlining the type of services that were required for Forgotten Australians in Victoria. In May 2009, the State Government called for submissions from community service organisations to provide the new support service for Forgotten Australians.
In July 2009, VANISH withdrew as the auspice agency providing support services for Forgotten Australians. An interim service was established by the Department of Human Services in collaboration with the Centre for Excellence in Child & Family Welfare in Market Street, Melbourne. The work that had been undertaken through VANISH continued at the Centre for Excellence until the new service provider was in place.
Berry Street, in partnership with Relationships Australia (Victoria), successfully submitted to provide these services for Victorian Forgotten Australians.
Open Place officially opened its doors on 18 January 2010.