Glossary

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Care Leavers

The term Care Leavers is an umbrella term used to describe anyone who spent time separated from their families during childhood. The Australian Department of Social Services uses this term to describe people who experienced out-of-home placements organised by a state child protection system or a privately-run organisation, particularly prior to 1989. We use this term more broadly. For instance, we include ‘informal’ placements such as families placing children with friends or extended family, and we place no chronological limits on this term.

Even in Australia there are people who prefer different words to describe themselves and their experiences of out-of-home care, and around the world, many different phrases are used.

Different phrases for Care Leavers

Different phrases which are used in Australia that would be classed as Care Leavers are:

  • Wardies
  • Clannies
  • Homies
  • Care Experienced
  • Forgotten Australians
  • Former Child Migrants
  • State Kid
  • Stolen Generation
  • Out of Home Care
  • Former Foster Kid
  • Orphan
  • Orphanage Kid
  • Home Kid
  • Foster Care
  • Kinship Care
  • Residential Care
  • Resi Kid
  • GOM kid (Guardian of the Minister)
  • (formal) State organised or (informal) family organised

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Foster care

In the Australian context, foster care specifically refers to the practice of private households providing for children and young people who are living apart from their families. It often describes children and young people under the supervision of child protection authorities, but More Than Our Childhoods also uses this term to describe foster placements arranged by friends and family outside of formal child protection systems. Today, foster carers often receive payment for their services, but historically this was not always true, and the financial aspects of privately arranged foster placements vary widely.

Institutional placement

Australia has placed children in a range of different types of institutions over the past 200+ years. In the 19th century large dormitory-style institutions that housed 100-1,000 children at a time were common. Over time the size of institutions has tended to grow smaller, and although large scale institutions operated in many parts of the country until the 1970s, experiments with smaller institutions that imitated a family home were also common in the 20th century. In the 21st century, the most common style of institutional placement provides for roughly 3-12 children or young people in community-based households, supervised and supported by paid staff.

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Kinship care

Kinship care refers to foster care arrangements where the foster carers are relatives of the children or young people concerned.

Out-of-home care

Out-of-home care is a present-day term used in many parts of the world to describe a range of strategies for placing children and young people who cannot live with their parents on a permanent basis. It can include children and young people separated permanently from their families, children and young people who experience short term or respite placements, and can refer to institutional or home-based placements (such as foster care and kinship care). Government reports typically apply the term to children and young people under some level of supervision by child protection authorities, but More Than Our Childhoods also uses it to describe children placed by friends and family outside of formal child protection systems. Terminology used to describe children separated from their families has changed frequently over time but we know that there are many common experiences across different generations of Care Leavers. Therefore, More Than Our Childhoods uses this term to describe children separated from their families not only today, but also in the past. We do, however, acknowledge that not all Care Leavers prefer this term to describe their own experiences of being in institutions, foster care or kinship care.

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