As the Prime Minister announced in his Apology on 16 November 2009, the National Library has conducted an oral history project to record the lives and experiences of Forgotten Australians and Former Child Migrants. Interviews were conducted across Australia, will be preserved in the National Library and made publicly available, subject to any access conditions imposed by interviewees.

An oral history project was recommended in two Senate Community Affairs References Committee reports Lost Innocents: Righting the Record - Report on Child Migration (August 2001) and Forgotten Australians - A report on Australians who experienced institutional or out-of-home care as children (August 2004). This oral history project received funding from the Commonwealth Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs.

The Library received over 200 formal expressions of interest in being interviewed and many more suggestions about people with experiences to share. With many thousands of people affected by the experiences of being in care, the interviews show the lifelong impact of these experiences on those who were themselves in care, their siblings and family members. Interviewees came from all walks of life and had a wide range of work and life experiences. More than 200 people told their life stories in interviews recorded by specially trained historians; many interviews are available in full online, when interviewees have given permission. The project also interviewed advocates and associated professionals including welfare officers, employees of institutions and administrators. The interviews record a variety of impacts of care experiences in Australia from the 1920’s onwards in over 140 institutions run by state governments, churches, non-government organizations as well as in foster homes.

This oral history project concluded in November 2012.

You can’t forget things like that

Introducing the oral history collection

The Library has produced a booklet titled 'You can't forget things like that'. The booklet introduces the Forgotten Australians and Former Child Migrants Oral History collection held at the National Library of Australia. We hope the booklet encourages people to listen to the full interviews, and to know and understand the life history and experiences of Forgotten Australians and Former Child Migrants. The quotations in the booklet are excerpted from interviews in the collection. You can access the booklet online at the link in the side bar on the right; the online version includes audio links to the interview quotes.

Is the Library collecting other materials?

The Library is seeking to collect other materials about the experiences of Forgotten Australians and Former Child Migrants including ephemera, self-published autobiographies, websites and manuscripts. If you have published a book about your experiences you can check the National Library Catalogue to see if the Library holds a copy. There is information about the Legal Deposit scheme and where to send a copy of your book.

For further information on the Forgotten Australians and Former Child Migrants oral history project, please feel free to contact:

Oral History & Folklore
Forgotten Australians and Former Child Migrants Oral History project

Make an enquiry about this project.