Forgotten Australians and the housing system

Veronica Coram, Selina Tually, Victoria Cornell, Carole Zufferey, Fran Lovell

Research output: Book/ReportCommissioned report


Many of the half a million children placed in institutional care in Australia from the 1920s to the 1980s experienced neglect, social isolation and emotional, physical and sexual abuse. The lasting effects of these traumatic experiences include being disproportionately affected by homelessness and housing insecurity in adulthood, and, for some, a deep distrust of the systems, institutions and organisations which deliver housing support and aged care services. The impact of childhood trauma and maltreatment on the housing experiences of Forgotten Australians, or care leavers in other countries, is poorly understood due to limited research and policy attention. Safe, secure, comfortable housing is a vital contributor to mental and physical health and wellbeing and social inclusion. For those whose past trauma was inextricably linked with where they were living, housing has the potential to play a particularly significant role in how safe and ‘cared for’ they feel. This report provides a better understanding of how childhood institutionalisation can affect people’s housing experiences in later life, so as to maximise the potential contribution of housing to the health and wellbeing of Forgotten Australians as they age. The report identifies significant gaps in the existing evidence on the housing needs and experiences of Forgotten Australians and suggests future research directions. It also makes policy and practice recommendations around improving housing-related supports for Forgotten Australians, including better integration of housing and care in later life and implementing a trauma-informed approach to service delivery.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationAdelaide, South Australia
PublisherUniversity of South Australia
Number of pages36
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • Forgotten Australians
  • Housing - Australia
  • Homelessness
  • institutional care
  • Out of home care
  • Child maltreatment
  • care leavers


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