CHILDREN who grew up in Bendigo's orphanages are calling for fairer treatment from the state and federal governments.
The Care Leavers Australasia Network, which represents the boys and girls, says poor dental care as children had left them with bad teeth and health issues which were expensive to fix.
CLAN spokeswoman Leonie Sheedy said St Aidan's in Kennington - which took in orphans, widows, single mothers and unmarried women - and St Luke's Toddlers home in White Hills had left a painful legacy.
"They live down lonely isolated roads, they don't trust churches, charities or governments," she said.
"Some are homeless, others are in public housing or waiting for public housing.
"A lot them have damaged knees from polishing floors and bad backs from working in the church laundries and on farms as children.
"It was hard and heavy work and they were never paid for it.
"A happy childhood lasts a lifetime - it sets you up whereas a neglected and abused childhood stays with you until you are in the coffin."
Northern Victorian MP Tania Maxwell said the state government had never established a redress system for its former wards, despite a formal apology from then-premier Steve Bracks in 2006.
"In 2004, a Senate inquiry recognised the history of cruelty inflicted on children raised as wards of the state," she said.
"It recommended redress - (Mr Bracks made a) commitment to work with survivors of abuse and neglect in care to promote the healing process.
"Progress has since stalled since and, in the absence of Commonwealth action, Victoria could - and should - lead the way."
A Senate inquiry into the treatment of children in care homes received damning accounts of sexual abuse at St Aidan's.
One woman recalled reporting abuse to the nuns and being locked in a toilet and given her meals in there.
The orphanage also left behind a large unmarked grave of orphans, widows, single mothers and unmarried women who died in its care.
The St Aidan's Grave Restoration and Beautification Group began work at the Bendigo Cemetery last year to honour the memories of the 53 people who were buried between 1907 and 1977.
There was only one small plaque to mark their resting place, some names were misspelled and two people interred were not mentioned at all.
The group's chair Len Williams said the intention was to mark where each person lay, to show that they were individuals. Researcher Kath Martin searched cemetery records, undertakers' records and newspaper clippings to piece together a history of every person buried in the grave.
Ms Maxwell said the state government had a number of redress schemes for other groups.
"This includes the recent announcement of redress for mothers who had their children forcibly removed in the historical practice of adoption for children born out of wedlock, as well as reparations for Aboriginal Victorians forcibly removed from their families before 1977.
"Care leavers hold no grudge against others who have been given redress, but it is hard for them not to feel envy and disappointment that their own harm is not being recognised in a similar way.''
The state government spokeswoman said it would continue to consult.
"The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse highlighted horrific practices inflicted on thousands of Victorians in institutional care," she said.
"We recognise that trauma and the different forms it takes - we'll continue working with those impacted to find away to best support their needs. We acknowledge the courage of survivors and advocates in their efforts to raise awareness about the suffering caused and lifelong impact."
Ms Sheedy said most children who grew up in orphanages were not set up for academic or career success and had not become wealthy people.
She said they needed the money from the redress schemes for health reasons and to take care of themselves.
She said she hoped the Labor Party would keep its promise to end the indexation on the national redress scheme, which was being used to reduce amounts received by survivors.
Labor publicly denounced the indexation when it was announced but has not said whether it would take that policy to the election. Bendigo MP Lisa Chesters was contacted for comment.
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