The Forde Inquiry

In June 1999, the report of the Commission of Inquiry into Abuse of Children in Queensland Institutions was tabled in the Queensland Parliament.

The Forde Inquiry, as it was known, found significant evidence of abuse and neglect of children in Queensland institutions in the past and identified ongoing concerns about current practices in relation to child protection and youth detention.

The Inquiry encompassed the period from 1911 to 1999 and examined more than 150 orphanages and detention centres. Over 300 people provided information to the Commission.

Although there were many reasons presented to the Commission as to how and why the abuses took place, none excuse the abuse, nor do they excuse the failure of those in authority in government, churches and society in general to effectively monitor children in care.

Those people who provided information to the Commission showed great courage in disclosing the details of their childhood experiences. These experiences which included emotional, physical, sexual and systems abuse, as well as the pain of separation from parents and siblings, have deeply scarred many of them and had immeasurable impacts on the rest of their lives.

The Commission heard stories of children feeling worthless, vulnerable, stigmatised, unloved, and being denied opportunities. As adults, a significant number of former children in care report poor personal relationships, low self-esteem, broken marriages, poverty, suicide attempts, uncertainty, insecurity and limited employment opportunities.

The Report contained 42 recommendations requiring significant changes in legislation, policy and practice for children currently in care or detention. Recommendation 39 of the Report resulted in the establishment of The Forde Foundation.

Foreword extract: Commission of Inquiry into Abuse of Children in Queensland Institutions (1999).
“I have been impressed by the courage of those who came forward, often moved by the hardships they have endured, and saddened that such abuses were somehow permitted to take place. The accounts that I have heard and read have left a lasting impression and I will never forget them. For all those who came forward to tell their stories, and to all victims of abuse in institutions, I dedicate this report to you, and hope that it will be a small step on the long road to healing and reparation. It was society that failed those children. In acknowledging that, we must ensure that the same wrongs are not repeated.”

Honourable Leneen Forde, Chair of the Commission of Inquiry into the Abuse of Children in Queensland Institutions.

The Forde Inquiry report

You can read the full report of the Commission of Inquiry into Abuse of Children in Queensland Institutions here. Hard copies of the report can be viewed at your local and state government libraries