- Introduction: starting the journey
- Where do I start?
- Why are there files about me?
- How will I feel when I look at files about me?
- What is on the file about me?
- Where else can I go for information about me?
- Who can access records about me?
- Can I access other people's files?
- Have recordkeepers learned anything from the past?
- Getting help to find records about you
- Records Services
What to expect when accessing records about you
Introduction: starting the journey
Like scabs on the knee that can't be left alone until they bleed again, questions had come uninvited throughout our childhood and were left unanswered.
How do you construct your identity when all the usual influences that shape your childhood – like parents! – are missing?
Many people who were in 'care' as children find themselves as adults seeking answers to questions about their past:
- Why was I taken away?
- Why was I put in a home?
- Why didn't my parents come and get me?
- Why was I separated from my siblings?
Many ask themselves: What did I do wrong?
These types of questions haunt many people who experienced institutional care as children – child migrants, members of the Stolen Generations, Forgotten Australians. Their childhood in 'care' leaves them burdened as adults with confusion, bewilderment, self-blame, anger.
Another legacy of a childhood in 'care' is lingering questions about identity:
- Who are my parents?
- Where were they when I was in 'care'?
- Where are they now?
- Who are my family?
- Where were they during my childhood in 'care'?
- Where are they now?
- Why was my name changed?
- How old am I? When is my birthday? Where is my birth certificate?
- Who am I?
You can find clues and answers to these identity questions by locating and accessing records about your time in 'care'. Records can sometimes help if you have gaps in your own personal history, especially about your childhood. For many people, the journey of self-discovery and seeking answers to questions about the past involves searching for, locating and accessing records.
Records like books, photographs and newspaper articles can tell us a lot about the history of 'care' and help us understand the past. This Find & Connect website provides access to these types of historical records and sources.
If you (or a member of your family) spent time in 'care', there will be records that are personal to you, and your story. You won't see these records on a website, or in a book, because they are private, personal, confidential. But if the records are about you, you have the right to ask for them and to access them.
In Victoria, the state government and community services organisations are the 'custodians' of these personal records about children in 'care'. There are people and organisations and resources to help you locate records about you and get access to them, and to support you through this process.