Formal apology for Forgotten Australians
Canterbury Bankstown Express
13th September 2009
AFTER nine years of lobbying, Leonie Sheedy is finally set to receive a formal apology from the Australian Government for the terrible ordeals she and other “Forgotten Australians” had suffered.
Late last month, the Federal Government announced that the Australian Parliament would formally apologise to the “Forgotten Australians” - men and women who experienced abuse or neglect as children in institutional care.
Ms Sheedy, who is the president of the Care Leavers of Australia Network (CLAN), is overjoyed that her efforts have paid off.
The Georges Hall resident was placed in a Victorian orphanage after her parents, one of whom had contracted tuberculosis, could no longer manage to raise all their children.
Ms Sheedy was one of approximately 500,000 children who were put into orphanages between 1930 and 1970, and experienced cruelty at the hands of institution staff and managers.
“We held great big signs, sent hundreds of cards and letters,” she said.
Despite her efforts, some members of the public expressed scepticism of the ordeals the care survivors had faced in orphanages.
Regardless, Ms Sheedy was determined to lobby for an apology for the survivors’ great suffering.
She said these included loss of their identities and the physical and sexual assault by staff and managers at orphanages.
“I had a dream the Prime Minister had said sorry,” she said.
Another dream of hers is for the awarding of medals to the care survivors and their national recognition in museums.
“The elderly, they’re survivors ... they need to be really proud of themselves,” she said.
After the formal apology, the State Government plans to unveil a memorial for “Forgotten Australians” on September 19.
Ms Sheedy said the struggle other “Forgotten Australians” had faced with basic literacy and their suffering called for more governmental assistance.