Helping Hand launches its guide Forgotten Australians, Real Care the Second Time Around.
23 January 2019
The guide aims to help aged care providers respond to and support the needs of those who have experienced trauma as children in state and institutional care.
The guide is the result of an Australian-first project undertaken by Helping Hand to gain greater insights into the issues and challenges Forgotten Australians are likely to face accessing aged care services and is launched at Helping Hand’s North Adelaide care home by Chief Executive Officer Chris Stewart and Director of Research and Development Megan Corlis.
Forgotten Australians are people who, as children in the period until 1989, were harmed in state and institutional care. This includes former wards of the state placed in children’s homes, foster homes and orphanages across Australia. Many have been left traumatised and are suffering life-long consequences from abuse and neglect by the “care” they received in their youth. As they age, many people who identify as Forgotten Australians are struggling to face the possibility of a second time around in institutional care, feeling at risk of re-traumatisation.
Forgotten Australians are the largest group under the Care Leavers Special Needs category in the Aged Care Act, which also includes the Stolen Generations and Child Migrants. Of the estimated 500,000 Care Leavers in Australia, 450,000 are Forgotten Australians.
Helping Hand’s guide outlines the organisation’s commitment to Forgotten Australians, including helping staff better assist Forgotten Australians. The guide also recognises that exercising choice and control can be a challenge for those not accustomed to such opportunities.
Helping Hand Project Manager Diana O’Neil said Forgotten Australians taking part in the project revealed an over-riding desire for recognition of Forgotten Australians’ uniqueness and the need for respect of their life, identity, desires, needs, behaviours and the need to be believed.
“Every individual has their own story but there are certainly some common themes among experiences of Forgotten Australians in areas of trust, aversion to authority and the fear of loss of control and loss of independence,” Ms O’Neil said.
The Helping Hand Forgotten Australians guide articulates a commitment from the organisation to:
Support staff to understand and seek to reduce the impact of past trauma
Build trust and demonstrate care and respect for the rights of Forgotten Australians
Engage in person-centered care planning that considers past trauma
“We are hopeful this booklet is the first step in a longer conversation that will lead to influencing policy and practices within the aged care sector,” said Ms O’Neil.
Helping Hand recognises that the guide is a first step in a process to assist aged care providers in better responding to the needs of Forgotten Australians as they age. In acknowledgment of this work Helping Hand has extended the project to continue work with Forgotten Australians and is working with other interested organisations to disseminate this work both in South Australian and nationally.
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