Current Size: 100%

Who Am I?

Resources to guide Record-Keeping Practices which support Identity for Children in out-of-home care

Frank and Samantha talk about their experiences in locating and accessing their records.
It is their experiences, and others like them, that have inspired and informed the Who Am I? research.


The Research Project

This research project investigates the role played by archiving and recordkeeping practices in the construction of identity for people who experienced out of home 'care' as children (including members of the Stolen Generations and Forgotten Australians). 

Inspired by the recommendations from the ‘Forgotten Australians’ report (see the Federal Inquiry, 2004), the interdisciplinary research team explores issues of creating, storing and accessing records using tools from the fields of social work, history and archival studies.




Research Outputs - Reports, Papers, Submissions

Resources to guide record keeping which supports identity for children in out of home care

The Who Am I? project adopts an action research methodology based on the Knowledge Diamond. The Knowledge Diamond, devised by Cathy Humphreys, emphasises the importance of the exchange of ideas between key stakeholder perspectives: Research Evidence, Service User/Consumer Experience, Policy Perspectives and Practitioner Wisdom.

The Who Am I? project is conducted by researchers from the University of Melbourne (Cathy Humphreys, Gavan McCarthy, Cate Elkner, Rachel Tropea, Margaret Kertesz and Andy May) and the Australian Catholic University (Shurlee Swain and Nell Musgrove), in partnership with 15 organisations, and in consultation with consumer support and advocacy groups.

The Partner Organisations are The Salvation Army, Wesley Mission Victoria, Anglicare Victoria, Berry Street, Centre for Excellence in Child and Family Welfare, Child and Family Services Ballarat, Department of Human Services Victoria, Glastonbury Child and Family Services, Good Shepherd Youth and Family Services, Kildonan Uniting Care, MacKillop Family Services, Orana Uniting Care, St Luke's Anglicare, Victorian Aboriginal Child Care Agency Co-operative Limited, Victorian Adoption Network for Information and Self Help. The project is funded by the Australian Research Council.

Research Strands

There are four strands of research:

1.  Pathways and historical records of care

A web resource for information to document the historical context of ‘care’ has been developed, with the aims of:

  • providing  information and resources that help make sense of past events in the history of ‘care’ in Victoria, and
  • enabling people who have experienced institutional and out-of-home care as children (and their families) to see where their own story fits in to the broader context.

Initially called Pathways, it brought together information about institutions, organisations, significant figures, policies, practices and legislation in the state of Victoria, from its beginnings in the 1850s through to the present.

Pathways has now been revised and extended to become Find and Connect Victoria, and was also used as the model for building Find and Connect pages for each Australian State and Territory.

See Core Principles underlying the Pathways website (August 2010).


2.  Archiving practice and policy

Academics worked with those responsible for archiving within the partner organisations to establish the level of archiving knowledge and development within each organisation, and the archiving needs of this sector. This included education and discussion about archival principles.

See  Archiving - Moving Forward as a Community (April 2010) Archiving Workshop Report by R. Tropea, G. McCarthy, C. Elkner


3.  The experience of accessing records

A number of organisations and people with experience of out-of-home care have been involved throughout the project. In addition, a number of interviews with care leavers were conducted, to explore their experiences of the searching for their records and accessing their files. Special attention was paid to the impact of this experience on their sense of themselves.

See Records Access Project (November 2011)  Final Report by Suellen Murray


4.  Current Practice

Current practice in creating records has been examined in the light of records being a resource for identity throughout the lifespan.  With records being “fragmented” by being stored in a diverse range of locations, the concept of the Portable Personal Record was developed - a set of personal records kept together for easy access by the young person in care, and his/her carers.

Following a series of scoping workshops, three nested projects have been carried out.

  1. 100+ points of identity - examined the accessibility and locatability of a range of records for a sample of young people currently in out-of-home care.
  2. A Backpack of identity - recognising that records are not routinely transferred to new carers when children and young people change placement, this research explored the barriers to passing on records, and possible solutions.
  3. Implementation - the development of strategies to ensure that current recording practice  takes into account the long-term identity needs of children and young people in care. Resources to guide record keeping which supports identity for children in out of home care have been developed.



© 2011 Centre for Excellence in Child and Family Welfare  Contact Us  |  Privacy  |  Disclaimer  |  Sitemap  |  Site designed and hosted by Infoxchange Australia