Wattle Place is part of Relationships Australia NSW. We manage four specialist programs:

You can access these services in person, over the phone, or online. You don’t need a referral to access Wattle Place services and our services are free.

To receive support, please contact our experienced and friendly administration team. When you are ready, they will take you through some simple questions over the phone, which takes about 5 minutes, and they will explain what will happen next.

Wattle Place also contributes to wider discussions, when possible, to encourage better understanding of Australia’s history and the way it has impacted individuals, in the hope that our society will better provide for the needs of those living with trauma. This is best achieved by engaging allies and supporters.

Trauma-informed service

Wattle Place has around 20 staff who specialise in supporting people with childhood experiences of institutional and foster care, child sexual abuse and experience of past forced adoption. All of these experiences can result in trauma that continues throughout life, to varying degrees. We provide respectful, non-judgmental, caring support, incorporating the five foundational trauma-informed principles:

  • safety
  • trustworthiness
  • choice
  • collaboration
  • empowerment.

We maintain optimism and hope because the lives of the individuals we work with can be so much better.

We strive to be a safe space where survivors feel a sense of belonging and hope. Our goal is that survivors:

  • develop greater confidence to cope with the increased challenges they face as a result of their past;
  • develop skills to manage the effects of trauma in everyday life, and ultimately;
  • enjoy a greater sense of control, safety and enjoyment in life.

Timeline for Wattle Place

Wattle Place exists because of the hard work, commitment, dedication and persistence of amazing individuals and groups who fought tirelessly for decades to get recognition and justice for the wrongs that had been done to them. That work led to three significant Inquiries and reports by the Federal Government, each of which are relevant to our work. The first was an Inquiry into the Stolen Generations and the “Bringing them Home Report of the National Inquiry into the Separation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children from their families” in 1997. The second was an Inquiry into Former Child Migrants and the  “Lost innocents: righting the record report on child migration” in 2001. The third such report is where the timeline for Wattle Place starts, as it is the report which recommended the establishment of support services, including Wattle Place.

August 2004

Report tabled on the Senate Inquiry into Children in Institutional Care

Titled - Forgotten Australians: A report on Australians who experienced institutional or out-of-home care as children. Recommendations 21 - 24 refer to the establishment of specialist support services for care leavers.

13 February 2008

Federal Government Apology to the Stolen Generations

11 years after the handing down of the "Bringing Them Home" Report, then Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, apologised to the Stolen Generations.

19 September 2009

NSW State Apology to Forgotten Australians and Former Child Migrants

In response to Recommendation 2 of the Forgotten Australians report, the NSW State Government issued an apology to Forgotten Australians and Former Child Migrants.

16 November 2009

Federal Apology to Forgotten Australians and Former Child Migrants

5 years after the handing down of the Forgotten Australians report, in response to Recommendation 2, the Australian Government issued an apology to Forgotten Australians and Former Child Migrants.

August 2010

Opening of Wattle Place

Wattle Place was officially opened by Linda Burney, former NSW Minister for Community Services, in August 2010. Prior to the opening of Wattle Place, the Aftercare Resource Centre had operated for a number of years, assisting "care leavers" to find their care records and missing information about their identity.

November 2011

Find and Connect Support Service begins

A dedicated service to make the process of locating and retrieving documents from Government departments and former institutions easy and affordable for people who had been in out-of-home care, and later, people impacted by Forced Adoption and those accessing Wattle Place for the Redress Support Service.

February 2012

Senate Inquiry into Forced Adoptions

Report from the Inquiry tabled: "Commonwealth Contribution to Former Adoption Policies and Practices", which, recommended the establishment of services to provide specialist support and counselling.

November 2012

Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse announced.

While the scope of this Royal Commission extended beyond "Child Welfare" institutions, a disproportionate number of children placed in "Child Welfare" institutions (that is Forgotten Australians, Former Child Migrants and Stolen Generations) experienced sexual abuse while in those homes and institutions.

21 March 2013

Federal Apology for Forced Adoptions

In response to Recommendation 2 of the Senate’s report, then Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, issued an apology for Forced Adoptions.

July 2013

Royal Commission Support Service begins at Wattle Place.

Royal Commission Support Services were established during the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, to provide counselling and other support to people affected by the Royal Commission, in recognition of the distress caused by telling their stories, thinking about their past and hearing the stories of others who were also impacted.

March 2015

Forced Adoption Support Service begins at Wattle Place.

In response to the Inquiry and following the Apology, the Forced Adoption Support Service began at Wattle Place to provide support and counselling to people impacted by forced adoptions.

15 December 2017

Final report of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse handed down.

5 years after the Royal Commission was announced, the report was tabled.

1 July 2018

National Redress Scheme established as a recommendation of the Royal Commission.

The National Redress Scheme recognises and acknowledges the suffering caused by child sexual abuse, "holds institutions accountable for this abuse, and helps people who have experienced institutional child sexual abuse gain access to counselling, a direct personal response, and a Redress payment."

July 2018

Royal Commission Support Service at Wattle Place transitions to the National Redress Support Service.

Wattle Place's experience supporting people through the Royal Commission positioned it well to transition to provide people support through the Redress process.

Relationships Australia NSW has no history as an out-of-home care provider. This means those who use our service can be assured of our independence and the commitment of Wattle Place to be focused on you and your needs.

We are located in Harris Park and Parramatta. We receive funding from the NSW Government Department of Communities and Justice for the Forgotten Australian Support Service, and the Commonwealth Government Department of Social Services for the Find and Connect, Forced Adoption and the National Redress Support Services. We predominantly assist people living in NSW, but can assist people living anywhere in Australia.

Frequently Asked Questions

Who are "Forgotten Australians"?

“Forgotten Australians” is the official term given to those specifically who, as children, were separated from their parents and placed in Australian orphanages, childrens’ homes and other institutions, or foster care, (out-of-home care) between 1920 and 1990, under government child welfare policies and legislation. This term is not widely used by survivors themselves but was used in the 2004 report of the Inquiry, in the State and Federal Apologies and in programs and projects implemented as a result of the Inquiry, including the Forgotten Australian Support Service.

Forgotten Australians are distinct from the other groups who were placed in out of home care before 1990 (that is Stolen Generations and Former Child Migrants) in that the policies and legislation that put them there were formally categorised as “child welfare”.

Forgotten Australians are the largest of the three groups, with numbers estimated to be well over 400 000 over the period.

The origin of the name is unclear, but it is likely that it reflects the fact that what happened to this group of people was largely ignored at the time and unacknowledged afterwards. They felt locked away and forgotten as children and their history has been mostly forgotten by society. We hope this website will help to bring more awareness about Forgotten Australians.

Stolen Generations are the generations of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children who were forcibly removed from their families and communities by both State and Federal Governments. This took place under “assimilation” policies, (as opposed to “child welfare” policies that affected Forgotten Australians). They too, were often placed in institutions including children’s homes, alongside Forgotten Australians and Former Child Migrants, religious missions, or foster homes with non-Indigenous families. Others were adopted or assigned as servants to non-Indigenous families, rather than being place in out-of-home care.

There are believed to have been 30 000 – 50 000 children affected.

Former Child Migrants refer to people who were sent as unaccompanied children from Britain and Malta to institutions throughout Australia, between around 1912 and the late 1960s.

Before the war, Britain wanted to remove children from their overcrowded welfare institutions and provide them with farming or domestic skills. After the war, this policy assisted ‘Empire settlement’, which aimed to increase the white Australian population with British-born citizens. Children often came from disadvantaged families and were sent to Australia without the parents’ knowledge or consent.

It is believed there were approximately 7000 child migrants.

If you were in a New South Wales institution or foster home after 1990, you must be 26 or over to be eligible for support from Wattle Place. After 1990, you are not identified as a Forgotten Australian (and not eligible for Federal Government funding), but you are eligible for the New South Wales Government funded support service. Unfortunately, if you were fostered in a state other than NSW, you are not eligible for assistance from Wattle Place. Please check for services in your relevant state.

Institutions, in the context of Wattle Place services, refer to orphanages, children’s homes, training schools, mission schools and other residential facilities where children lived together, separated from their parents, under the authority and responsibility of the Government. This includes those institutions run by religious entities. Placement of children in these institutions, and in foster placements under the responsibility of the Government is often referred to now as “out-of-home care”.

Out-of-home care refers to all forms of institutional and foster placements where the government, not the parents, had guardianship over the child. The term “care” is commonly used in reference to “out-of-home care”, but we use it here with caution, as children often received the opposite of “care”.

For the purposes of this website, “care leavers” refers to those in out-of-home care after 1990 (used interchangeably with Forgotten Australians), or when speaking collectively about anyone who spent time in out-of-home care, regardless of time or circumstance. The term “care” is commonly used in reference to “out-of-home care”, but we use it here with caution, as children often received the opposite of “care”.

The practice in the past of removing newborn babies from mothers who “society” deemed to be unfit parents, often based on moral grounds. For instance, babies of unwed mothers were taken at birth and given to childless married couples, sometimes without consent of the mother. In other cases, unethical, dishonest, even illegal, methods were used to obtain consent under duress, deception, manipulation or coercion.

The National Redress Scheme was set up following the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. The National Redress Scheme provides support to people who experienced institutional child sexual abuse. They can apply for “Redress” to the National Redress Scheme, through a formal application process. Applications are assessed, and for those who’s applications are approved, “Redress” provides access to counselling, a direct personal response and a financial payment, or whatever combination of those the individual chooses. The Scheme started on 1 July 2018 and will run for 10 years.

In the context of the people who access Wattle Place services, trauma, more specifically complex trauma, develops from repeated and sustained exposure in childhood, to physical, sexual or emotional abuse, humiliation, violations of trust and breaches of care, particularly by those who should provide safety. Severe emotional trauma causes a response in the brain. So if this trauma occurs repeatedly, particularly in childhood, it can alter the child’s developing brain so profoundly that it can become stuck in a heightened fight, flight or freeze state, which remains consistent into that person’s adult life. Complex trauma can impact the way people view the world, their relationships and their reactions and responses.

Please ring Wattle Place using the toll free or land line numbers provided in the Contact us page, and speak to one of our Administration team. They will ask you some basic questions to determine if you are eligible and which services you would best meet your needs. You will then be able to access the services we offer. You do not need a referral and all of our services are provided free of charge.

It is best if the eligible person registers themselves. However, if there are issues that prevent the eligible person registering themselves, a support person may register on their behalf. In that case, it is preferable that they complete the registration with the eligible person present. The eligible person must sign any documentation that is required, except in special circumstances.