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Getting started

Are you looking for Victorian records that are less than 99 years old about yourself or a family member ? This page will help you

If you're looking for Victorian records that are more than 99 years old go to our guide to historic Adoption and Wards of the State records


Terminology used on this page

The term ‘Care Leaver’ has been used in the following sections to describe individuals who experienced institutional or out-of-home ‘care’ as children. Many of these children were made Wards of the State. This page also applies to Forgotten Australians who experienced out-of-home ‘care’ in Australia from the 1930s until 1989, and Stolen Generations of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander people who were separated from their family and traditional country. The term 'adoption' refers both to adoptees who were Care Leavers and adoptees who were not. 

Locating records and support for your search

If you’re looking for records about yourself, somebody related to you, or on behalf of someone else, there are a number of organisations that will help you submit your application to the government, regardless of whether you live in Victoria or not. You have the right to request access to those records and these services are familiar with the various types of government records that might exist in Victoria and Australia. They can also advise you on what information will help to ensure you get the best result. These services can help you to locate information from a number of agencies relevant to your research, and provide you with support during the potentially emotional experience of finding and accessing records.


Open Place (for Forgotten Australians and former Wards of the State)

Open Place is a support and advocacy service that co-ordinates and provides direct assistance to address the needs of people who grew up in Victorian orphanages and Homes prior to 1989. Open Place aims to also help people who identify as 'Forgotten Australians' to deal with the legacy of their childhood experiences, including assisting people to access records from their time in ‘care’. Phone: 1800 779 379 (free) 


Care Leavers Australasia Network (CLAN) (for Care Leavers)

CLAN is an international, independent, peak membership body which represents and advocates for people who were raised in Australian and New Zealand Orphanages, Children's Homes, Missions and foster-care. Care Leavers and their families can access free face to face or phone counselling in Sydney and Melbourne. They can provide help to obtain your State Ward or Home records and assistance in obtaining all records including parents' war service records. See the CLAN website for more information. Phone: 1800 008 774 


Link-Up Victoria (services for Stolen Generations)

Link-Up provides a support service to help Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people over the age of 18, who have been adopted, placed in foster care, institutionalised or forcibly removed, to trace and be reunited with their families.  Tel: 1800 OUR MOB (free call 1800 687 662) or 03 9287 8800


Koorie Heritage Trust (services for Stolen Generations)

The Koorie Family History Service at the Koorie Heritage Trust can help you trace your family tree and reconnect you with your history, heritage and culture. The service provides confidential client-based genealogy research to members of the Stolen Generations and the Victorian Koorie community.  Phone: (03) 8662 6329


VANISH (Victorian Adoption Network for Information and Self Help) (for people affected by past adoptions)

VANISH is a post adoption support organisation funded by the Victorian Government to provide search and support services for individuals who are adopted or who were separated from their child through past adoption practices. VANISH also provides search services for Forgotten Australians/Care Leavers. 


Adoption Victoria, Department of Justice and Community Safety (formerly FIND)

Adoption Victoria is a service provided by the Victorian Government.  It provides access to information about past adoptions that are connected to Victoria, including inter-country adoptions. The Adoption Victoria service can also help people who were adopted in the United Kingdom access documents, the Service can help adopted people and their families make contact with each other.  Adoption Victoria works in partnership with other adoption information service providers and agencies that provide services to the adoption community. 


Department of Health and Human Services Care Leaver Records Service (for Forgotten Australians, Care Leavers and Former Wards of the State) 

If you have identified  records you think may be applicable to you (see below or  via a service provider above) you can then apply for access to those records and the team will attempt to find the records for you within 45 days. Phone: 03 9096 8449  Email: 


Child Migrants Trust (for Child Migrants)

Child Migrants Trust (CMT) is a registered charity in both Australia and Britain, CMT provides a range of social work services, including counselling and support for family reunions. The Trust's offices in Nottingham, UK, as well as Perth and Melbourne in Australia also offer information, advice and family research to former child migrants and their families. Phone: 1800 04 05 09 (FREECALL) or (03) 9815 2022 

Listed  below are some organisations that have published guides to finding records on their websites. The guides can be looked at online before you contact a service provider. Although a person’s individual record can’t be found online, you might find it helpful to see a list of the titles of record collections from private and government institutions to start accessing records. There are many other record collections that aren’t online, for various reasons, so it’s best to contact a service provider to take the next step. 


Find  and Connect 

The Find & Connect web resource brings together historical resources relating to institutional ‘care’ in Australia. You can use it to read information about, and view images, of children’s Homes, get help to find records about your childhood in ‘care’, and connect with support groups and services in your state or territory. Find & Connect provides information about records from government and non-government providers, including the organisation that may hold these records today and how to get access to them.


Department of Health and Human Services 

The Victorian Government Department of Health and Human Services provide a list of government records about care leavers on their website. They are not a complete list of records available, but they can be searched by the name of the institution relevant to your family history research. If you identify records you think might be relevant you can contact them directly to get access, or contact the community services listed above to inquire about widening your search.

Material in the Public Record Office Victoria archival collection contains words and descriptions that reflect attitudes and government policies at different times which may be insensitive and upsetting

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples should be aware the collection and website may contain images, voices and names of deceased persons.

PROV provides advice to researchers wishing to access, publish or re-use records about Aboriginal Peoples