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What to expect when accessing records about you.
Getting help to find records about you
Organisations that provided 'care' to children (like children’s homes and orphanages) created records to help them in their work. If you spent time in an institution as a child, there may be records about your time in ‘care’ that have been kept. You have a right to access these records.
These records can be a valuable source of information about you, your childhood, your family and the story of your time in ‘care’.
Many people have found that the experience of accessing your records has a significant emotional impact, bringing up feelings of anger, hurt, fear, but also sometimes feelings of nostalgia or relief. You can find more information about what to expect here.
The search for your records can be complicated and frustrating – but there are many different organisations that can help you find out information about your time in ‘care’, locate and access any personal files that might exist, and give you support throughout the process.
If you are not sure where to start your search for records, or you want some support through the process, we suggest you get in touch with an organisation who can help.
Find & Connect Support Service
The Find & Connect Support Service is a national network delivering support to Forgotten Australians and Former Child Migrants. The Find & Connect Support Service will assist and support those people who were in care in Australia from the 1920s to 1989 to:
- Access personalised support and counselling and, where possible, help you to obtain your personal records, trace your history and understand why you were placed into care
- Connect with other services and support networks that may assist you at this time in your life
- Reconnect with family, if this is possible
1800 16 11 09 (free call)
Care Leavers of Australia Network (CLAN)
The Care Leavers of Australia Network (CLAN) offers support to individuals who have been a State Ward, Home child or foster child in Australia, or whose parents or other family members have had this experience. CLAN can help you to obtain your ward file or get information about your Home and you may advertise at no cost in the newsletter to help locate lost family members, or people you remember from your Home and would like to contact.
Telephone: 1800 008 774
Child Migrants Trust
The Child Migrants Trust has offices in Melbourne and in Perth and provides a range of social work services to child migrants all over Australia, including counselling and support with family reunions. The Child Migrants Trust also provides help with information, advice and family research to former child migrants and their families.
Telephone numbers and a contact form are provided on their website.
To see more organisations that can help, see the Support Groups and Services page.
Finding your own story
To get more information about what records exist from an institution or organisation, visit the Find & Connect web resource for the state or territory where you were in ‘care’. There are organisations in each state or territory that can help and support you locate and access records.
See Getting help to find records about you for:
What if there are no records about me?
Unfortunately, not every person who was in ‘care’ will be able to find and access their records. In the past, records have been lost and even destroyed, meaning that vital and precious information is not available.
Even if you are one of the people whose records no longer exist, there are other historical records that might contain information that helps you to understand your time in ‘care’ – newspaper articles, photographs, books and oral histories can be valuable resources. This Find & Connect website has information from these types of resources relating to particular homes, organisations and events.