For the first couple of years (1990, 1991) FICH meetings were unstructured social get-togethers where people shared their stories. For many of them, it would be the first time they had disclosed what happened to them. Lew and I started the group because we had never met another person from the Homes. What we found was that our membership had an expectation that we would do something, gain funding for our support group for example.
As a result, in 1992 a couple of us went to the trouble of gaining Incorporation for the group. This, we were told, would be a necessary first step to get funding for our group. One of the requirements was an Annual Report, so one was duly produced. Below is an excerpt.
We had some help from the Catholic Social Response Unit. In case anybody has any doubts, this was not the same group as Micah Projects or the Esther Centre. The details of our activities were carefully recorded. FICH gained Incorporation in the State of Queensland in 1992. The same year, with some help from the Catholics, we put on a one-day Seminar at the Mater Hospital. This was videotaped and recorded, and mentioned on a couple of news media. On the day, the Family Services Minister, having accepted our invitation, declined to attend and sent a Departmental official instead. Below is the program.
The Catholics even advertised the Seminar for us in their news.
Wouldn’t you think, after all that effort by the members and leaders of FICH, that the Queensland Government might have considered us responsible enough to run our own support group? I was ignorant of the fact that “they never fund victims’ groups” according to one well known advocate.
More than 25 years have passed since our abortive attempt to establish a peer support network for care leavers, funded by the State which mostly caused the abuse, and run by people who had been through the system. Would anything be different if we had succeeded? Who knows.