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Forgotten Australians, The (ATOM Study Guide)

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The Forgotten Australians is a documentary that follows two women who brought the story of 500,000 forgotten Australian children into the spotlight and onto the political agenda.

Says Nicola Woolmington, writer and director of the documentary:

This is the story of CLAN and two women that took over ten years to take their silent history to Canberra and Australia. It's an untold story shared by more than 500,000 children who were placed in institutional homes in Australia from 1930 to 1980. Leonie Sheedy and Joanna Penglase were both raised in care and grew up in a loveless system. They formed a support and advocacy group, called CLAN, for people like themselves. Their combined talents gave them the courage to overcome indifference and finally be heard. This is the long-awaited documentary which took five years to make and followed some of their struggle to where they are today.

As many as 500,000 children were placed in care up until the 1980s and while some children were better off with the physical care they received, far more suffered long lasting physical, psychological and emotional abuse.

At the time, who could they tell? Who would have believed them? How could this ever happen to so many children?

The Forgotten Australians is an untold story, recounted with courage and candour as child survivors are today finding the voice and recognition that they deserve.

Curriculum Relevance:

This documentary deals with a range of issues including social justice, family and the rights of the child and will be of interest to students in the middle to senior secondary levels in the following studies.

  • SOSE/HSIE, Civics and Citizenship – consider our changing approach to social issues and welfare policies.
  • English – the film presents a range of characters and the possibility of employing extensive creative writing tasks
  • Theatre Studies – employ dramatic interpretation techniques.
  • Media Studies – the approach employed to tell a story about a diverse group of individuals provides a model and example of how students could develop their own presentation
  • Australian History – It will also be of interest to tertiary students studying in areas of Social Justice and Social History.

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