Forgotten Australians – Helping Hand

Forgotten Australians


Helping Hand recognises the critical importance of understanding that every person’s life journey is unique and will impact on their needs and expectations as they age.

A group known as Forgotten Australians* has been identified as having many challenges as they face the possibility of aged care. Forgotten Australians represent the 500,000 children that were placed into institutional and out-of-home care in Australia in the last century. Of this group, 7,000 were former child migrants, 50,000 were indigenous children from the Stolen Generations and over 440,000 were non-indigenous children. Many of these children experienced significant physical and emotional trauma as a result of being placed in institutional care as children and now, as an older group, are experiencing barriers to accessing aged care as a result.

Helping Hand understands the need for all individuals to be heard, to feel safe and to be cared for. This is especially important for those whose life experiences have caused them harm. We are committed to offering care based on choice, transparency and understanding – read our position statement about Forgotten Australians, Real Care the Second Time Around, to find out more.

The Real Care The Second Time Around Project commenced in 2019 and is funded by the Commonwealth Government until the end of July 2021. This important project has been developed with Forgotten Australians by Helping Hand, in partnership with Relationships Australia South Australia and Flinders University. The project is working towards improving the access to quality aged care services for Forgotten Australians. These now older Australians experienced the physical and emotional trauma of being placed in institutional care as children during the 20th century.

Forgotten Australians from The Real Care The Second Time Around Project have offered feedback on the types of resources they felt would help them to access aged care and be heard and understood. They identified one-page profiles that captured their individual stories, and that would follow them through the aged care pathway, as a useful resource. They also contributed comments to a resource for aged care providers that would help them identify the needs of Forgotten Australians, and that would result in individual and person-centred care without the need to keep telling their stories. Hard copy versions of these resources can be obtained by contacting Helping Hand by email or phone 1300 653 600, and they can be downloaded by clicking on the images or links below:


  • A brochure with ten questions that Forgotten Australians can ask when looking for residential aged care accommodation. Click here to download the brochure.
  • A publication to assist aged care providers with practical tips, information and resources when working with people who identify as Forgotten Australians / Care Leavers. Click here to download the booklet.
  • A publication to assist aged care providers to support their clients to develop their own About ME one page profile. Click here to download the booklet.


The project is managed by Fran Lovell, with Meg Schwarz who commenced in May 2020 as the Project Officer. Meg comes from previous project roles with special population groups. She identifies as a Forgotten Australian and understands the experiences and barriers that this group of people have. You can read our latest newsletter here. Please feel free to contact Fran or Meg for further information:

Fran Lovell
Ph: 8224 7871

Meg Schwarz
Ph: 8224 7813
(Monday, Wednesday and Thursday)

Fran and Meg
Fran Lovell and Meg Schwarz
*Forgotten Australians include people who were harmed in state, out of home and institutional care during their childhood, former wards of the state, former child migrants and care leavers, in addition to the Stolen Generations. We respect that not everyone will identify with this terminology.

In late 2019, a co-design forum of around 16 Forgotten Australians was formed to identify priorities and drive activities for the Real Care the Second Time Around Project. Click on the headings below to read about the priority areas for the project.

Lived Experience Training sessions build participants’ capacity to share their knowledge, insights and personal reflections in order to build connections with others. This training helps increase advocacy skills through storytelling, which is a powerful means for healing, teaching and influencing change. It is important for people with lived experience to be included in any organisational planning, particularly policy and program development to ensure that their experiences are shared and included.

Trauma Informed Care (TIC) training is being developed by RASA, in partnership with Helping Hand, for Helping Hand’s frontline staff, including aged care support workers, lifestyle and hospitality services staff. Trauma-informed care is a framework for providing services that are based on an understanding of how trauma impacts on peoples’ lives. Trauma can affect how people relate to other people and situations because they may feel fearful and lack trust. It is important for service providers to be trauma-informed in order to support survivors of trauma to feel safe. The TIC training will aim to ensure that our staff are aware of the experiences and barriers to care for Forgotten Australians. The TIC training will include videos of personal stories from Forgotten Australians and exercises, assessments and resources to support understanding. The training will be evaluated by all participants.

An Introduction to Power of Attorney and Wills workshop will provide information for Forgotten Australians about the preparation of wills, funerals and enduring power of attorney. The workshop will be presented by The Adelaide University Law School. This first workshop is tailored for Forgotten Australians, and is a trial to be evaluated by the participating Forgotten Australians.

Three Advanced Care Planning workshops will be held this year. The workshops will focus on end of life planning, completing Advance Care Planning directives and choices around who needs to be involved in decision-making. These workshops will be presented by Margaret Brown, Adjunct Research Fellow, University of SA Justice and Society. This approach to advance care planning is tailored for Forgotten Australians, and is a trial to be evaluated by the participating Forgotten Australians.

An Introduction to the Aged Care and Disability Sectors workshop will be held this year for Forgotten Australians. The workshop will provide information tailored for Forgotten Australians on the Navigator Trials, advocacy and complaints processes, in-home support services, Carer Gateway and the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) as it relates to older people. A diverse range of speakers will be involved in this workshop, including Council on the Aging (COTA), Aged Rights Advocacy Service (ARAS), Regional Assessment Services (RAS), Carers SA, Helping Hand and the NDIS. Again, we will seek feedback from the participants as to whether this information and workshop format was of use to them.

Flinders University’s College of Medicine and Public Health has been funded by the Australian Association of Gerentology and the Flinders Foundation to conduct partnership research to explore the key health impact needs, experiences, hopes, preferences and barriers to accessing aged care for Forgotten Australians. As part of the Real Care The Second Time Around project, Helping Hand will use the recommendations to trial training, tools and new approaches for Forgotten Australians.

The Flinders University research team included Alison Smyth, a Forgotten Australian. Alison said that “the research is vital to us because, having been abandoned as children to live in an institution with strangers, facing institutional care once again as aged people is terrifying”. Dr Monica Cations from Flinders University is finalising the recommendations from the sector, including feedback from the co-design forum of the Real Care the Second Time Around project.