Pre-1990 Care Leavers

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

Following 10 years of service delivery, in October 2019, Berry Street Victoria announced their decision to cease operating Open Place, a specialised state-wide support service for Victorian Pre-1990 Care Leavers.  

Between October and December 2019, the department consulted with Pre-1990 Care Leavers and key stakeholders to hear their views about what they valued most about the service provided by Open Place, and if anything could be improved. The consultation produced two reports: a Consultation summary report (Word) and Service principles guide (Word). These reports informed the department’s open and competitive tender process and the announcement of Relationships Australia Victoria as the new provider of the Open Place service from 1 July 2020.

Open Place services provided by Relationships Australia Victoria will continue to include:

  • advocacy, case work support and referrals to services including health, housing, education, income support and employment
  • counselling provided by appropriately qualified staff and including individual, family and group and provided in person and through online platforms 
  • promotion of family and community connectedness including drop-in centre (located in Richmond), peer and social support groups, events, educational and personal development activities and workshops 
  • financial assistance for health and practical needs in accordance with brokerage guidelines
  • access to records and family searching including support to access and view their records and assistance with family reunification 

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.

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