Wattle Place recently became aware of an initiative that we are very excited about and would like to share with you.
This April marks the inaugural Care Experienced History Month. It is an initiative of Who Cares Scotland (an organisation supporting Care Leavers across Scotland).
The term “Care Experienced” is the Scottish/British term for those we refer to as Forgotten Australians, Stolen Generations, Former Child Migrants, or Care Leavers, and others who experienced out-of-home care. It is therefore an initiative that Wattle Place welcomes and hopes to see grow to a significant, world-recognised event in the future.
While it is a Scottish initiative, Who Cares Scotland have established an international steering group to promote Care Experienced History Month globally and raise awareness of the significant contribution of care leavers to humanity around the world.
Dr Dee Michell and Kayt McGeary, both of whom are Care Leavers, are the Australian members of the international steering group.
What can Care Experienced History Month achieve?
“Care Experienced History Month is a time for people who spent time in institutional and foster care to be celebrated for their resilience, activism and advocacy and contribution to humanity. It represents an acknowledgement of the systemic, cultural and individual oppression that Care Experienced people have endured.”
These are all issues very close to our hearts here at Wattle Place. Wattle Place’s very existence came about because of both the impacts of the experiences of Forgotten Australians and other care leavers, and also their resilience, activism and advocacy which lead to Royal Commissions, Government apologies and the establishment of services such as Wattle Place!
However, addressing the ongoing impacts of out-of-home care experiences extends beyond just what Wattle Place and services like ours can achieve. If our society, which placed them in that situation in the first place, really wants to make amends for at least some of the wrongs that were done to Care Leavers, we need to create a society in which they feel safe, feel included and a have a strong sense of belonging. Sadly, this isn’t always the case right now.
A key aspect of Care Experienced History Month is its emphasis on promoting awareness about the strengths, contributions and achievements of the remarkable survivors. Survivors of the various forms of out-of-home care deserve to be acknowledged. Acknowledgment brings awareness, which encourages learning and then understanding. This is a part of Australia’s (and much of the world’s) history that is largely ignored, unknown or forgotten (hence the term, Forgotten Australians). Forgetting or ignoring what they experienced is insulting and unjust, because what happened to them matters. It is part of their story and part of their identity in the history of our country. However, it is just as important to look beyond just what happened to them in their childhood and recognise the courage, strength and tenacity so many of them have displayed in overcoming such difficult beginnings to become the amazing people they are, fighting for the safety, rights and inclusion of their fellow survivors and children who continue to move through the out-of-home care system. This is another important part of their identity and place in Australia that we can recognise in Care Experienced History Month.
Lack of understanding about the history Forgotten Australians, Stolen Generations, Former Child Migrants and others placed in out-of-home care, and the legacy of what they experienced, and the prevalence of trauma survivors in our society also prevents or limits consideration of the needs of these survivors in designing and implementing services and policies. We would like to see this change so that trauma is recognised and addressed increasingly in social policy and programs.
That is what makes Care Experienced History Month so exciting and important. It is vital to raise the awareness and profile of everyone who has experienced the out-of-home care system in all its forms, so that we can better cater to the wants and needs of those who experienced it, and work towards insuring that we, as a society, don’t continue to repeat those mistakes.
Care Experienced History Month will end with a Day of Rememberance on Friday 30 April, setting aside time to remember care leavers who are no longer with us.
Would you like further information?
If you would like to find out more, you can visit the Care Experienced History Month website, a Scottish website, at careexperiencedhistorymonth.org