Gregory P. Smith, Sandy Darab & Yvonne Hartman (2020) Exploring a sense of belonging for some Forgotten Australians as they age, Community, Work & Family, DOI: 10.1080/13668803.2020.1749030

In Australia many children were negatively affected by past institutional child care regimes. In this qualitative research, the authors consider the long-term impacts that such care has had on a small sample of one particular population in relation to their sense of belonging as they age. This population is known as Forgotten Australians and refers to people who lived in this type of care as children prior to deinstitutionalisation in 1974. The findings presented are from the lead author’s 2016 Ph.D study that explored participants’ narrated experiences, utilising hermeneutic phenomenology as the methodology. Interviews were conducted with 21 participants residing in all states and territories of Australia. Key themes that emerged from the data were feelings of social disconnection; the need to construct safe places; and a desire to belong. A major finding is that many participants continue to experience the harmful legacy of their childhoods, manifesting as difficulties integrating into social life despite leaving institutional care 40 or more years ago. The key implications for this cohort as they age are discussed and recommendations are made.