Our Lives, Our Stories Talking Back to the Records
Our Lives Our Stories: Geelong Care Leavers Talking Back to the Records is an exhibition that focuses on Geelong Orphanages and Children’s Homes and five Care Leavers who were in some of the Geelong Orphanages. Care Leavers tell what they liked, didn’t like, and what they would have wanted to know about from their childhood records.
This is the Australian Orphanage Museum’s first temporary exhibition at its new home in Ryrie Street, Geelong, and features the stories of Care Leavers who grew up in one of the region’s many children’s institutions.
Commissioned by CLAN (Care Leavers Australia Network), the exhibition was developed and written by historian Abigail Belfrage from The History Dept., with design by Megan Atkins. It explores the importance of records to people who grew up in orphanages and children’s homes, and the complexities of accessing records for Care Leavers. This has been a focus of CLAN’s advocacy for many years.
Childhood records are vitally important to Care Leavers, but they can be difficult to access. Records can also fall way short of people’s needs and expectations and give a distorted view of people, events and experiences. Care Leavers have a strong urge to “talk back” to the records of their childhoods in institutions. Listening to the voices of Care Leavers, adding memories of their lived experiences and challenging the version of the past in their records, helps to “set the record straight”.
As a microcosm of a larger story, the exhibition has a geographic focus on the thirteen children’s Homes and orphanages of Geelong, the earliest of which dates back to the 1850s. This was the most outside any capital city in Australia.
Exhibition booklet now available to purchase: Our Lives, Our Stories: Geelong Care Leavers Talking Back to their Records – Stories from an exhibition at the Australian Orphanage Museum, Geelong, June 2023
Bound copies of the exhibition booklet are now available to purchase for $20.
An accompaniment to this powerful exhibition, the publication contains full transcripts of interviews with 10 CLAN members who all spent time as children in Homes in Geelong. Contact us to get your copy.
Australian Orphanage Museum gratefully acknowledges the Local History Grants Program and Public Record Office Victoria, supported by the Victorian Government through the Community Support Fund.