Thursday, May 20, 2010

AFA supports AASW's concern over Mental Health Services

AFA delegates are aware that many Forgotten Australians (care leavers) have been accessing counselling through Medicare Registered social workers. AFA is very concerned about the loss of Medicare registered social workers for vulnerable people in the community with emerging and chronic mental illness, particularly those who have experienced and survived childhood abuse and trauma.

Forgotten Australians have gained access to counselling support through services set up in Victoria and Queensland and some access to counselling support is provided in NSW. None of the other States and Territories provide counselling support services to Forgotten Australians and the loss of Medicare registered Social Workers will be devastating to these Forgotten Australians. We are aware anecdotally, that since the National Apology to Forgotten Australians, there has been an increase in demand for access to counselling by the survivors of childhood institutionalisation in Australia. More information is available on the AASW website.

Find and connect service for Forgotten Australians

Media Release - JENNY MACKLIN MP
Minister for Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs

Find and connect service for Forgotten Australians
The Rudd Government will help Forgotten Australians and former child migrants reconnect with their families as part of the $26.5 million Find and Connect Service. This investment will help Forgotten Australians and former child migrants trace their personal and family histories and reunite with family members where possible through a records tracing and support service.

We know that for many Forgotten Australians and child migrants who grew up in institutional and foster care, the feelings of loss and abandonment have remained with them throughout their lives. Providing the practical support to help them reconnect with their lost families is one way the Government can help heal the legacy of the trauma and loneliness of lost childhoods.

The Find and Connect Service delivers on the commitments made by the Prime Minister when, on behalf of the nation, he apologised to the estimated 500,000 children and 7,000 child migrants placed in institutional or out of home care in the last century.

Through the Find and Connect Service, people who grew up in institutions and foster care will have access to case management and counselling support services from trained and skilled providers to trace and reconnect with their families.

The national Find and Connect Service will provide:

· a national website and single online access point to help care leavers find records held by past care provider organisations and government agencies, linked to state and territory indexes;
· a national 1800 telephone number for care leavers to call if they want to speak to someone trained to help them locate their personal records;
· a national network of specialised case managers to help care leavers locate and access personal records and, where possible, reunite with family members. Case managers will also connect care leavers with counsellors and other support services where required; and
· new counselling support services, specifically for care leavers, from appropriately trained and skilled providers to provide support for care leavers as they trace their families.

Priority access will be offered for care leavers who are aged or terminally ill. The Find and Connect Service will be developed in close consultation with key stakeholders, including care leavers and state and territory governments.

Date: 11 May 2010

Media contact: Jessica Walker (Macklin) 0430166633