Forgotten Australians

‘Abandoned’ – by Kendrea Rhodes

 a snippet from a story about a boy lost in institutional care in the 1920s


We left him to rest, or so we thought.

In the hospital lobby I realized my son was missing, so we retraced our steps back to my grandfather’s room. The picture was memorable: an 89 year old man chatting to his 5 year old great-grandson.

Noticing me at the door, Charlie quickly whispered in his great-grandson’s ear, ‘You can’t choose your family.’

That message is the reason for this short story and the many more that follow; and the reason that my five year old asked, ‘Why can’t you choose your family?’

Charlie’s mother abandoned her seven children at Young and Jackson Hotel in Melbourne in 1926. All seven children became wards of the State of Victoria and were sent to separate orphanages, institutions and foster homes; living in an unaccountable and unrecorded system of care.

During the early twentieth century, approximately half a million children experienced care in institutions or ‘out of home’. Known as ‘Forgotten Australians’, they lived in an unsupervised system sometimes neglected and exploited for the benefit of their carers. Many children weren’t orphans, but their carers told them that their parents were dead.



Want more?…read the following blog posts:

further research on these interesting websites:

Alliance for Forgotten Australians (AFA) is a national alliance of Forgotten Australians and supporters working in partnership to advocate for, and promote, national policies and services to meet the needs and interests of Forgotten Australians.

Find and Connect provides history about Australian orphanages, children’s homes and other institutions.

About KendreArt

Kendrea Rhodes is a visual artist and writer living in South Australia. Her articles, photography and artwork have appeared in local, state, national and international publications; and her original art has been exhibited since 1999.

Kendrea is undertaking a Bachelor of Creative Arts Honours at Flinders University, South Australia. Family history research drives this project, resulting in creative work that spans disparate genres and narrative modes (historical fiction, history and stream of consciousness). Click here to read a little of that family history.

Self Portrait: Eye am I.

Identity Dilemma. Eye am I. Self Portrait, Kendrea Rhodes original mixed media art.
Identity dilemma: am I what I see, what I think, what I do, what I think I see, think, do? Am I what you see, what you? Which eye?
Observation changes everything.

KendreArt Logo

KendreArt logo. Oil on canvas, exhibited ‘Out of the Blue’ Exhibition, Lobethal Mill, 2007. Original art by Kendrea Rhodes. Portrait of Nicole Kidman.

Stories are how we remember

Stories everywhere, interest subjective.


Something astounding

in someone else’s voice.


Stories are flexible. They are told, expressed, seen, heard, drawn, read, dreamed, painted, imagined, experienced, embellished, retold, remembered, misremembered and consumed.

The cooperative living in Australian society is an agreement to community stories/collective memories and as a result, there’s more trust and acceptance in my entitled world than I thought (I trust public transport, food safety, paint to dry, other drivers on the road, oh and that help is just a phone call away).

Stories are retold, celebrated, used, and apparently learned from history, all while following the rules of the system we live in. But bending rules, changing what’s seen, and sharing different stories from new voices is as human as submission and suppression. I choose to bend, share and learn.

Having a choice is a privilege.

Kendrea Rhodes is available for commissions and articles, please visit the contact page or connect via social media below ▼

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