If you are reading this, chances are you could be one of 500,000 indigenous and non-indigenous Forgotten Australians.
I am not a Forgotten Australian, but I married one. Our children and I have suffered enough that we claim the name Forgotten Australian Family as a right. If you object to my use of the name, I hope you will challenge me in open, fair debate.
Two recent media articles, both in the Independent Australia, have inspired me to ‘come out’ as the person behind the comments you may read from “Forgotten Australian Family” and “Forgotten Australians” (the Guardian has a limit on the number of letters, so I had to change it for that). The first is Australia’s Child Protection System is Ripping Families Apart by Gerry Georgatos. The other is Deneuve, Greer and why MeToo is not a Witch Hunt by Dr Jennifer Wilson.
I have a simple agenda. Two things would have spared our family the unspeakable pain we’ve suffered.
Do not take children from their parents. Take the whole, bloody family, and help them!
Introduce a Universal Basic Income. Get rid of Centrelink altogether.
This idea is not as crazy as it sounds and plenty of regions are trialling it.
And here is the #MeToo moment of this story. As well as marrying a Forgotten Australian, I am a survivor of child sex abuse and I gave evidence to the Royal Commission.
This brings to my story an aspect that is deeply troubling to me. I am sincerely worried that:
Queensland is protecting paedophiles, in the judiciary, legislature, Church and other State institutions.
As you will see if you read the comments from ForgottenAustralianFamily in the article by Gerry Georgatos, at least three generations of my family are affected by State-sanctioned abuse. One of my children has yet to receive an apology for an atrocity perpetrated by the State of Queensland in 2003. One of my own abusers is a highly respected and powerful man in Australia and abroad, decorated by the Queen and the Archbishop of Canterbury.
This year I will turn 67. I am happy to engage in constructive online debate about the topics I’ve identified as important to me and other members of my family. I would never have found the courage to keep going in my struggle were it not for my daughters, as well as Steven Spaner of SNAPAustralia, my lawyer John Ellis, and my Forgotten Australian friends Rosemary and Gary. Rosemary is living proof that stolen kids make wonderful parents. Their son is a total wizard in IT. They have several grandchildren. A lot of what I know about Forgotten Australian lives comes from them, as well as from the amazing members of our group FICH (1990-1993).
FICH (Formerly in Children’s Homes) was Incorporated in the State of Queensland in 1992, only to be ‘contained’, ‘mollified’ and ultimately treated with the utmost contempt by the Department, via Paul Testro, the hapless public servant put in charge of making sure FICH never got anywhere. Before it ended though, we worked at Wacol Prison and met the care leavers there. A straw poll was conducted by the FICH group at Wacol Prison; 70% of the prisoners had been in care as children.
Which brings me to the final item on my agenda.
Please count the number of prisoners in Australian jails who were in care as children.
Really, it shouldn’t be rocket science.
Then – work out how much it would save if these prisoners were instead paid a living wage, and offered a home, health care and counselling for the rest of their lives.