Forgotten Aussie tells of state care abuse
17th August 2012
Updated 20th August 2012
CAROLINE Carroll remembers being given meals furred with mould during a childhood spent in state care after she was given up as a baby.
The memory haunts the woman who grew up in institutions and foster homes in NSW in the 1950s and 60s, leaving her with a horror of some foods.
Ms Carroll was one of half a million children put in orphanages and state care across Australia last century.
She spent a hellish childhood in six institutions and five foster homes.
"I had one meal given to me for about a week till it had fur on it. Nothing else was given to you. The same meal put in front of you every day," she told AAP on Friday.
"I had real issues with food. I still do."
The little girl was called by a number, put in a cell for days with nothing but a pot and mattress, and suffered sexual abuse in her first foster home.
It's an experience she still struggles to reconcile.
"How does anyone think that teaches you anything but anger or humiliation?" she asks, now the chairwoman of the Alliance for Forgotten Australians.
A new website launched on Friday by Families Minister Jenny Macklin will offer counselling and support services for people who lived as children in state care and want to piece together their past.
The find-and-connect service was promised by the federal government after former prime minister Kevin Rudd made his 2009 apology to the so-called Forgotten Australians.
"You live in this world not knowing who you are, where you belong, where you come from, why it all happened," Ms Carroll said.
"Records and family tracing ... it just gives you a sense of self."
Ms Carroll is one of eight siblings, of whom all but one were put in separate homes.
She has met three of them but says counselling is important because reconnecting can be a struggle.
From her sister she discovered she'd had an unemployed, drinking father and an unstable mother.
Although she went on to marry and have two children, Ms Carroll says it's pure luck she survived after being kicked out of care at 15.
"A lot of girls I grew up with ended up in jail and prostitution."
The website address is www.findandconnect.gov.au