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Award-winning Australian comedian, Corey White (b. 1988), was in and out of foster care as a child.

Child protection involvement with Corey’s family began before he was one year old. Corey’s father was a violent criminal and his mother was a drug addict. Corey and his sisters would often be left alone for days on end.

We would all go in and out of foster care as Mum went in and out of jail. My Dad was in and out of jail as well. I remember those days of visiting her as quite happy, because obviously she wasn’t using.

Corey’s mother died of a heroin overdose when he was ten years old;  Corey and his sister Rebecca remember their mother as loving. After their mother’s death, Corey was separated from his sisters in care and had horrific experiences in the system, including severe neglect as well as physical, emotional, and sexual abuse.

School offered Corey solace. He explains:

“I loved learning. For me it was a way of escaping the world.”

With the help of a social worker, Corey attended St Joseph’s Nudgee College in Brisbane on an equity bursary. Corey’s teachers remember him as highly intelligent and studious; however, when he first entered university, Corey’s mental health issues led to him dropping out for some time.

In my first year of university, I did really well that year. But then I experienced my first bout of major depression. Things from my childhood started bubbling up. I realised how profoundly different I was to everybody else.

Corey was introduced to stand-up comedy by his longtime friend and fellow comedian, Shane Hunter. He found a sense of belonging in the Australian comedy scene, which helped him to overcome a drug addiction.

I think that people want to laugh at the really terrible things that befall everybody. That’s the stuff people are too scared to talk about. And if you can cast a light on that, that’s when the monkey brain loses itself to laughter.

In his first solo show, The Cane Toad Effect, Corey shares his life story with raw honesty and humour. The show won Best Show at the 2014 Sydney Fringe Festival, Best Newcomer Award at the 2015 Melbourne International Comedy Festival and Sydney Comedy Festival, and was aired on the ABC as part of the Comedy Next Gen series.

Corey’s 2018 ABC series, Corey White’s Roadmap to Paradise 2018, offers divergent solutions to a wide range of social problems, including the state care system. He also advocates for change within the child protection system as a keynote speaker.

Corey’s memoir The Prettiest Horse in the Glue Factory, published by Penguin books in 2019, describes his traumatic childhood and the path he took to rebuild his life.  

References: 

“Corey White.” Penguin Authors. https://www.penguin.com.au/authors/corey-white

“Corey White.” Token website. https://token.com.au/artist/corey-white/

Gleeson, Tom (presenter). “Seriously Funny.” Australian Story. Aired 14 August 2015. https://www.abc.net.au/austory/seriously-funny/6718852

Valentish, Jenny. “Corey White on childhood trauma, foster care and comedy: ‘It’s a factory for the insane.” The Guardian, 12 July 2019. https://www.theguardian.com/global/2019/jul/11/corey-white-on-childhood-trauma-foster-care-and-comedy-its-a-factory-for-the-i”sane