‘I would be terrified’: Aged care terrifies Forgotten Australians, royal commission hears

Australia
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Some Forgotten Australians would rather die than end up in an aged care facility.

Like former state ward Heather Brown, they are terrified of ending up in another institution after being abused and neglected in children’s homes.

Ms Brown sees aged care facilities as institutions, just like the ones she grew up in.

“I would be terrified if someone told me I had to move into a residential aged care facility,” the 79-year-old told the aged care royal commission on Wednesday.

“I would resist it, not literally, but I would fight it.”

British Orphans at Melrose House near Parramatta.

British Orphans at Melrose House near Parramatta.

NATIONAL ARCHIVES OF AUSTRALIA

Ms Brown said many of the half a million Australians who grew up in children’s home and orphanages are terrified of what will happen when they are no longer able to care for themselves.

“Some say to me that they would rather be given injections and killed than go back into an institution,” she told the Melbourne hearing, via video link from Brisbane.

Ms Brown was two when she and her brother became state wards in Queensland after her mother died and the authorities decided her soldier father would not be able to care for them.

She cannot remember any happy times as a state ward.

“The whole impact of life in care in state ward homes has been difficult.

“I don’t know why they call it ‘care’ because there wasn’t any care.”

Ms Brown is happy living independently in a retirement village, where she views her self-enforced isolation from others as her personal legacy of being a Forgotten Australian.

She said most people do not understand the trauma suffered by Forgotten Australians.

“They have no idea what the state allowed and what the government has done.”

Ms Brown said Forgotten Australians need aged care facilities and services they can trust and that understand their experience.

They also need help to understand what aged care really is and what a help it could be to them, she said.

“Most of us are now in our 60s, 70s and 80s, and all these people are going to need aged care soon but they have no understanding of what it is about.”

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