We are the stories we tell about ourselves: child welfare records and the construction of identity among Australians who, as children, experienced out-of-home ‘care’
Recent parliamentary inquiries in Australia and elsewhere have highlighted the importance of records access in the process of identity construction amongst survivors of out-of-home ‘care’, many of whom go through their lives without the tangible links to the past and to identity, which most people take for granted. Changes in legislation to facilitate access to personal records can only partially remedy this deficiency, as significant restrictions remain. In addition official records are frequently sketchy and disjointed, providing at best only partial, and often quite damaging answers to such questions as: ‘why was I put into “care”’ ‘what happened to me while I was there’, and ‘why did “care” providers treat me in that way?’ This paper argues that archivists and historians have to move beyond their traditional roles, to work constructively with ‘care’-leavers to provide the contextual information needed to identify, access and understand the records that document their lives.
From 2022 (Volume 50) authors contributing to Archives & Manuscripts agree to publish their work under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives License), which permits non-commercial re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited, and is not altered, transformed, or built upon in any way. Authors retain copyright of their work, with first publication rights granted to A&M.