Despite a growing body of publicity through the media stimulated by CLAN and others and by the Senate Reports, the national apology and other nationally significant activities, the experiences and consequences of growing up in orphanages, children’s Homes and other related institutions is still an area which is not widely understood in the community. This is partly due to the lack of research among historians, social workers and other academics who until recently have not paid much attention to this important aspect of Australian history and Australian society.



CLAN has made it a priority to conduct its own research into the history of Orphanages, Children’s Homes and other institutions. This is an ongoing project. To date CLAN has gathered information on the 600+ Orphanages, Children’s Homes and other institutions that our members grew up in. The fruits of CLAN’s labours can be seen in:

• CLAN’s national orphanage museum which continues to collect and display priceless memorabilia, artefacts and documents many of which have been donated to CLAN or are on loan from members and past providers
• CLAN’s gallery of photographs of hundreds of Orphanages, Children’s Homes and other institutions
• CLAN’s extensive library of books, reports, articles, and multimedia resources linking items with the museum and gallery


CLAN has also conducted two national surveys of Care Leavers:

 A Terrible Way to Grow Up: The experience of institutional care and its outcomes for Care Leavers in Australia, CLAN Survey, 2008.

View the results here.

• Struggling to Keep it Together, A national survey of older Care Leavers who were in Australia’s orphanages, Children’s Homes, foster care and other institutions, CLAN Survey 2011.


A number of CLAN members contributed to the book Surviving Care: Achieving justice and healing for the Forgotten Australians, (edited by Richard Hil & Elizabeth Branigan, Bond University Press, 2010) which grew out of the national ‘Surviving Care’ Conference held in Sydney in 2008 and co-sponsored by CLAN.

CLAN is examining the war experiences of service men and women who grew up in orphanages and children’s Homes – with an emphasis at this stage on World War 1. Initially a case study has been completed by Frank Golding who focuses on the Ballarat Orphanage where 105 ‘old boys’ have been identified – although the Orphanage Roll of Honour names only 93. The research shows that the Orphanage men enlisted earlier and younger than Australian soldiers as a whole, and suffered a higher rate of death and casualty. CLAN would like to hear from anyone who can supply the names of other former Orphanage children who served in World War 1.


CLAN encourages and supports research on historical and current issues of importance to Care Leavers and their families and to organisations which work in the area of support services for Care Leavers or ‘Forgotten Australians’. CLAN also has a role in seeing that completed research or works in progress are publicised and made available to Care leavers and the broader community.

If you would like to be involved in a research project or have one of your own, please contact CLAN to discuss with us what areas we think require more research and how we may be able to help you. Please refer below for CLAN’s Research Policy. 


CLAN is approached regularly by people who want to do some form of academic research involving Care Leavers. Whilst we are fully supportive of ongoing research into this area, we are also mindful of the privacy of our members and the traumas that many face as they deal with those events which impacted upon their lives as children and the issues they confront today. We are also mindful of the importance of consulting Care Leavers in the conception and development of research projects involving Care Leavers.

CLAN will require to see an ethics clearance given by a relevant funding/research organisation together with a clear statement of how the research will be of benefit to Care Leavers. CLAN fully reserves the right to reject any research proposal that it believes is not in the best interests of CLAN as an organisation and Care Leavers in general.

CLAN will not pass on to researchers any personal information about individual members nor will CLAN allow any person access to its data base of members’ private information. However to assist researchers to make contacts with potential participants, CLAN is prepared to place advertisements in the newsletter, The Clanicle, and/or on the website and allow CLAN members to contact you direct. CLAN however will not endorse the veracity of anything that is said. This will be a private undertaking and will be done without any official support or sponsorship from CLAN. Participation in research projects by CLAN members is always on a voluntary basis.

For a fee of $200 CLAN will advertise a research topic in two issues of The Clanicle and on the website. The fee will also give the researcher access to the CLAN library. Gifts over $2.00 are tax deductible. All funds raised in this manner will go towards supporting CLAN’s work with Care Leavers.


NOTE: CLAN is happy to accept and publish links to on-line research from researchers who feel their papers are relevant to the work of CLAN

• Bagdonavicius, Pauline (2009), (Public Advocate Western Australia), Looking Back – Looking Forward: Lessons learnt from redress
• Barbalet, Margaret (1983), Far from a low gutter girl: the forgotten world of State wards, South Australia, 1887-1940. Melbourne: Oxford University Press.
• Barnard, Jill & Karen Twigg (2004), Holding on to Hope: A history of the founding agencies of McKillop Family Services 1854-1997, (Melbourne: Australian Scholarly Publishing.
• Branigan, E, Malone, J, Murphy, J and Murray, S (2008), Beyond the Home Gates: Life after growing up in Catholic institutions, Melbourne, MacKillop Family Services.
• Cashmore, J and Paxman, M (1996), ‘Longitudinal Study of Wards Leaving Care’, Sydney, Social Policy Research Centre.
• Fox, Marion (1994), ‘The Provision of Care and Education for Children in Catholic Institutions in New South Wales 1881-1981’, Ph.D. thesis, University of Sydney.
• Goddard, C., (1992), ‘The Institutional Abuse of Children: I Have Done nothing Wrong and I Have Nothing to Say’, Vol. 17 No. 2 Children Australia, pp. 37-41.
• Golding, Frank (2021), ‘Care leavers recovering voice and agency through counter-narratives’, Federation University Australia, Victoria.
• Golding, Frank (2011), ‘Making Men out of Boys: Ballarat Orphanage in World War 1, a Paper for the Leverhulme International Conference on Children and War, University of Technology, Sydney, December.
• Haebich, Anna (2000), Broken Circles: Fragmenting Indigenous Families, 1800-2000, Fremantle: Fremantle Arts Centre Press.
• Hil, Richard et al. (2008), ‘Closed worlds: Reflections on institutional care and child slavery in Australia’, Children Australia, Vol. 33(1): pp.12-17.
• Jaggs, D., (1986), Neglected and Criminal – Foundations of Child Welfare Legislation in Victoria, Phillip Institute of Technology, Melbourne.
• Marian, Cherie, (2009), ‘Forgotten Australians Still Searching for ‘The Road Home’, Paper Presented at National Surviving Care Conference Sydney NSW 3/10/08
• Maunders, D, Liddell, M., and Green, S (1999), ‘Young People Leaving Care and Protection’, Hobart, National Youth Affairs Research Scheme: 58-60.
• McIntosh N, (1985), ‘Catholic Orphanages in the 1950s and 1960s: An oral history’, project submitted for the Degree of Master of Educational Studies, Monash University.
• Mendes, P (2005), ‘Remembering the Forgotten Australians: The Care Leavers of Australia Network (CLAN) and the Senate Inquiry into Institutional and out-of-home Care,’ Children Australia, Vol.30 (1): 4-10.
• Mendes, P (2009), ‘Young people transitioning from out-of-home care’, Dissent, No. 29: 61-64.
• Mendes P, (2002), ‘Leaving Care and Homelessness’, Parity, vol 15 (1), January 2002, pp.4-5.
• Murray, Suellen et al. (2008), ‘Building a Life Story: Providing Records and Support to Former Residents of Children’s Homes,’ Australian Social Work. Vol. 61, No. 3: 239-255.
• Murray, S, Murphy, J, Branigan, E and Malone, J (2009), After the Orphanage: Life after the children’s home, Sydney, UNSW Press.
• Penglase J, (1999), Orphans of the living: the home children NSW 1939-1965, Doctor of Philosophy thesis, Department of Sociology, Macquarie University.
• Raman, S and Forbes, C (2008), It’s Not Too Late to Care: Report on the research into life outcomes for people brought up in institutional care in Victoria, Melbourne, Centre for Excellence in Child and Family Welfare.
• Scott, Dorothy & Shurlee Swain (2002), Confronting Cruelty: Historical Perspectives on Child Protection in Australia, Melbourne: Melbourne University Press.
• Sheedy, L (2005), ‘Try to Put Yourselves in Our Skin: The experiences of Wardies and Homies’, International Journal of Narrative Therapy and Community Work, vol 1: 65-71.
• Smith, G., (2007), ‘The Harm Done: Towards acknowledgment and Healing in NSW’, paper presented to The Australian and New Zealand Sociological Conference in Auckland NZ, 5th December 2007.
• Swain, S., (2007), ‘Traces in the Archives: Evidence of institutional abuse in surviving child welfare records,’ Children Australia, Volume 32, Number 1: 24-31.
• Swain, S., (2008), “The Value of the Vignette in the Writing of Welfare History”, Australian Historical Studies, Vol. 39, Issue 2.
• Swain, S. and Howe, R. (1995), Single Mothers and their Children: Disposal, Punishment and Survival in Australia, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
• Wilkinson, M., (1986), ‘Good mothers — bad mothers: state substitute care of children in the 1960s’, in Gender Reclaimed, H Marchant & B Wearing (eds), Iremonger, Sydney,
• Wilkinson M., unpublished PhD thesis (1999), From neglected to protected? child welfare in New South Wales 1945–1988, University of Sydney.



This is not an exhaustive list but an indication of some topics we know are in progress or are being considered.

• The impact of Redress on the lives of Care Leavers
• The war experiences of service men and women who grew up in Orphanages and Children’s Homes – with emphasis at this stage on World War 1
• The use of institutionalised children in medical experiments
• Deaths of children while in the ‘care’ of the state, churches and charities
• The eugenics movement and the use of intelligence tests in children’s institutions
• The experience of leaving ‘care’ and post-‘care’ support
• Educational opportunities while in ‘care’
• The impact of war, alcohol and other such stress factors on the functioning of families
• The impact of a childhood in ‘care’ across the generations
• The barriers to Care Leavers’ access to their personal records.