Kathleen Frances is a Forgotten Australian now living a full and successful life on the Mornington Peninsula, Victoria. Her journey began as a vulnerable infant in a Catholic orphanage, leading her along a road of hardships and challenges. Through all this, she maintained a resilient and positive outlook on life and succeeded against all odds.
Now, after almost three decades of working in the Community Services field herself, she has viewed the system from both sides. She has studied human society and individual relationships that sit within the community. She has seen how society's most vulnerable are at the mercy of statistics and funding bodies. Both state and federal governments can abruptly take funding away from those who need it most, with politics often getting in the way of humanity. She was actively involved in the 2004 Senate Inquiry into Children in Institutional Care and attended Kevin Rudd's apology to The Forgotten Australians in 2009. She has closely watched the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse and the handing down of new legislative frameworks, including the Commonwealth's role in child welfare laws.
In telling her story, she hopes that it will not just be read but discussed by many. She especially hopes to reach students entering into the Community Services and Social Sciences fields. Offering a topic for a conversation about the past's socioeconomic climate, the changes that have occurred since, and the work we still need to do. Over the decades, there have been many changes to legislation. We need to look back and see what framed these amendments. Why were these modifications necessary? Why were there such large gaps in the legislation of the past? And lastly, what work do we still need to achieve ahead?
Kathleen hopes to spark conversation and is available for speaking engagements about Community Services, trauma and her story upon request.
Echidna in a Suitcase is a memoir of a woman’s journey of initial hardships and her rugged road to resurrection after being placed into Catholic institutional life as an infant. Through it all, she continued to look up through moth eaten blankets to see the stars; allowing her malleable mind to dream, and her spirit remained unbreakable. She had inherited a tangled ancestral twine. After over 50 years, this twine led her to the man she has been searching for all her life. A remarkable journey of self-discovery and great fortune.