The Raft of the CLAN, a giant painting depicting the tribulations of Care Leavers/state wards will take pride of place in the Australian Orphanage Museum on Geelong’s McKillop Street.
The Care Leavers Australiasia Network has moved its museum/library facility from Sydney to Geelong, bringing a treasure trove of artefacts, touchstones and resources for its 900-strong membership.
Cots, gates, badges, crockery, diaries, plaques, signs, pews, suitcases and numerous other objects make up the striking museum collection: all testament to children without parents brought up in frightening, isolated and abusive ‘care’.
More than 50 boxes of books – reference, reports, personal accounts and history of more than 900 orphanages – have also been relocated from CLAN’s previous lodgings in Bankstown.
While the Peter Daverington The Raft of the CLAN painting is the museum’s prize exhibit – it was initially unveiled by former prime minister Julia Gillard in the Great Hall of Canberra’s Parliament House – the museum collection has many other eye-catching works from care leavers and children’s homes.
These include baby shots of CLAN patrons including former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull and former minister for families, housing, community services and indigenous affairs Jenny Macklin in nappies, federal MPs Steve Irons, Jason Clare and Tanya Plibersek.
CLAN chief executive officer and co-founder Leonie Sheedy, of Geelong, oversaw the move and said the orphanage museum was both a valuable resource and important reminder of the abuses suffered by thousands of children in institutional care.
“This is about making our history visible,” Ms Sheedy said.“We should never forget the deliberate neglect and the painful legacy of that neglect so often visited on these poor kids”.
“All are adults now, many of them quite old, many have died. Most never had anyone at all to relate their terrible experiences before CLAN existed or the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.”
“Many have yet to be compensated, even nominally, under the Redress scheme.”
“Many will never be compensated for the fear, abuse, work, prejudice and work they were forced to endure while little children.”
“They were meant to be cared for but they were subjected to horrific lives instead and even in their eighties and nineties they still bear the scars.”
Joanna Penglase, CLAN co-founder, echoed Ms Sheedy’s sentiments, saying: “We had to grow up without our parents and pretend it didn’t matter.”
CLAN is the peak agency supporting and advocating for victims of abuse, neglect, and child labour in orphanages, children’s homes, foster care, training farms, missions, and laundries in both Australia and New Zealand.
It has more than 900 members with offices in Sydney and Geelong.
The Australian Orphanage Museum was opened by CLAN patron Corio MHR and Deputy Leader of the Opposition Richard Marles on 20 October at 62 McKillop Street.
If you wish to visit the Museum please ring the CEO of CLAN for opening days & hours
Please ring Leonie Sheedy 0425 204 747.
All visitors are welcome. Entry fee $2.00 donation.