Download a printable version of Where to Start (1.5 MB PDF)
Searching for records about a person’s time in institutional ‘care’ can be a complicated process. These records are located in a number of places – in government departments, church and charitable organisations, libraries, and archives. The Information about Records page has fact sheets on a range of topics.
There are organisations whose job it is to help Forgotten Australians and Former Child Migrants obtain records about their time in ‘care’, and to provide support through this process. Contact the Find & Connect Support Services or call 1800 16 11 09 to get help finding records.
This website contains information about records – where they are, who to contact, how to apply for access. You will not find any records or personal information on this website. The information on the Find & Connect web resource can help you to do your own searching for records. Use the Look for Homes page to search for a Home.
You can also browse alphabetical lists of Homes in each state or territory on Look for Homes.
Find & Connect has an entry about each Home, with historical information (e.g. where it was, when it operated, who ran it), photographs if available, and links to any relevant books, websites and newspaper articles. Click on the Records tab for more information about records relating to each Home, and who to contact for access.
If you, or your family member, was a ward of the state, it is likely that there are some government records about their time in ‘care’. The Historical Background about Child Welfare for Australian States and Territories page has more detailed information about the system in each jurisdiction.
In each state or territory, there is a government department whose job it is to respond to requests for access to the records of state wards. To apply for access to ward files, please contact these government departments:
For records relating to state wards from the ACT, contact Communities & Justice in NSW – before 1989, children from the ACT were sometimes placed in institutional and foster care in NSW.
Contact the Care Leavers Records Access Unit in Communities & Justice for access to ward records.
For access to files relating to children under the care of the NT government, contact the Department for Children and Families. The majority of these records have been extensively indexed.
For access to government records in Queensland, contact the Right to Information Unit in the Department of Child Safety, Youth and Women.
To apply for access to records about state wards in South Australia, contact Department for Child Protection SA.
The After Care Support Program, run by Children Youth and Families, provides assistance in accessing records of people who were in State care in Tasmania.
In Victoria, contact the FOI Unit in the Department of Families, Fairness and Housing.
Contact Department of Communities, Freedom of Information Unit to access information about former state wards in WA.