Date of Award

2018

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

School

School of Arts and Humanities

First Advisor

Vahri McKenzie

Second Advisor

Lynelle Watts

Field of Research Code

1904

Abstract

This research project asserts the primacy of creative practice as a key method of enquiry and explores how fictional stories, re-imagined from historical events of the mid-twentieth century, may provide different ways of viewing a world which was inhabited by once-silenced children, now known as the ‘forgotten Australians’. To this end, the thesis is made up of a creative component in the form of a book-length collection of short fiction that is accompanied by a critical component positioning the thesis contextually, theoretically and methodologically. The research reveals overwhelming evidence of a culture of endemic abuse within Australian child welfare organisations whereby harm was done to children in the context of policies and programmes that were designed to provide care and protection. During this era, ideologies underpinning community beliefs were patriarchal, conservative and insular. It was purported that children were ‘committed’ to imposing, regimentally run institutions ‘for their own good’. The project draws on sources from disciplines including history, psychology and literary studies, as the investigation exposes the blurred boundaries which exist between fiction and nonfiction; personal and social memory; official and unofficial narratives; knowing and not-knowing the past. In doing so, it argues that although there can be no single narrative of history, fictional narratives provide another conduit into stories from the past and have the potential to act as agents for social change.

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