About the project


More Than Our Childhoods is part of a larger participatory research project: Care Leaver Activism & Advocacy: From Deficit Models To Survivor Narratives.


This research project has three aims:

  1. To examine the historical origins of depictions of Care Leavers as ‘deviant’ and ‘delinquent’;
  2. To explore the rise, strategies and impact of Care Leaver activism since the 1990s;
  3. To disrupt ‘deviant’, ‘delinquent’ or deficit narratives of Care Leavers with accounts of how Care Leavers have survived and contributed positively to their communities. In other words, to demonstrate that Care Leavers are more than their childhoods, despite the difficulties of that time.

Participatory research

In addition to developing the More Than Our Childhoods biographies, the Care Leaver Activism & Advocacy project will be conducting participatory research in a number of ways (including oral history interviews, focus groups and stakeholder workshops). If you are a Care Leaver, if your life has been personally or professionally touched by out-of-home care in any way, or if you are part of an organisation involved in a related area (e.g. support or advocacy work with Care Leavers, record-holding of material related to historical out-of-home care, current provision of out-of-home care or family support) and would like to contribute to the project, please see Get Involved – we would be delighted to hear from you.

This project is supported by a grant from the Australian Research Council (DP210101275).

Meet the team

Nell Musgrove

Nell Musgrove is an Associate Professor of History in the School of Arts (VIC) at Australian Catholic University. She has written histories of the two major provisions for children separated from their families across the 19th and 20th centuries: institutions—The Scars Remain (Australian Scholarly Publishing, 2013)—and foster care—The Slow Evolution of Foster Care in Australia co-authored with Dee Michell (Palgrave Macmillan, 2018).

Dee Michell

Dee Michell is Senior Lecture in Sociology, Criminology & Gender Studies at the University of Adelaide. Dee was in foster care for 15 years from the age of 3 and is co-author, with Nell Musgrove, of The Slow Evolution of Foster Care in Australia (Palgrave Macmillan, 2018).

Jacqueline Wilson

Jacqueline Wilson is an Adjunct Associate Professor at Australian Catholic University. She has more than twenty years’ experience teaching and researching in universities across Australia. She has published widely in the fields of Education, Criminology and Ethnography. Jacqueline is a graduate of Monash University (PhD) and La Trobe University (BA Hons) where she was awarded the David Myer university Medal. Jacqueline is a former ward of the state of Victoria, Australia. As a child she experienced homelessness and many forms of out of home care placements, including various hostel accommodations, foster care and short-term orphanage stays. Jacqueline is committed to achieving historical justice for care leavers and her research has led to policy changes and numerous remunerated invitations to speak publicly about her work.

David McGinniss

Dr David McGinniss is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Australian Catholic University. He has more than two decades experience working in social services and programs in community organisations and government in Australia and the United Kingdom, including out-of-home Care and child & family services. His research focus is on the historical development of social services and children’s institutionalisation, and the influence of survivor activism in the reform and renewal of contemporary systems.

Amy Gill

Amy Gill is a PhD candidate at The University of Sydney School of Education and Social Work. Her doctoral study uses a mixed-methods approach to explore service and support needs among care-experienced young parents in New South Wales. Amy was in kinship, residential, and foster care in Ohio as a teen. As a care-experienced researcher, reflexivity and positionality are central to her work.