The Imagined Archive of Childhood Out-of-Home Care

Joanne Evans


The recordkeeping and archival needs for childhood out-of-home care are part of one of society’s wicked problems, namely how to ensure that the systems set-up to protect children from abuse and neglect do not themselves cause harm? That makes the envisioning, designing and building an integrated archival and recordkeeping infrastructure for child centred out-of-home care a major social design challenge. The scale, depth, breadth and complexities involved require ‘smarter and more agile responses to how problems and opportunities are identified and framed, and how new solutions are generated, explored, prototyped resourced and realised’. With social design the focus is on ‘collective and social ends rather than …. commercial or consumer-oriented objectives’ (Armstrong et al. 2013). It also involves ‘non-expert practitioners, close alliances with non-design fields, entanglement with policy bureaucracies, … [and] grassroots action’.

For this poster we aim to provide an overview of the Imagined Archive Project, currently being undertaken as part of an interdisciplinary research program to address the critical issues associated with designing and developing a Lifelong Living Archive for childhood out-of-home care. The project aims to work with Care Leaver advocates to co-research and co-create a pop up exhibition for the Setting the Record Straight For the Rights of the Child Summit on the 8-9 May 2017. The exhibition seeks to use creative arts practices to highlight the identity, memory and accountability needs for childhood out-of-home care and develop conversations around systemic transformations at the event and beyond.

Armstrong, L., Bailey, J., Julier, G., & Kimbell, L. (2013). Social Design Futures: HEI Research and the AHRC. UK Arts and Humanities Research Council. Retrieved from



I am an ARC Future Fellow in the Faculty of IT at Monash University, with my research relating to the design and development of archival information systems, with particular emphasis on recordkeeping metadata, interoperability and sustainability. I am particularly interested in exploring the requirements for archival systems in community environments using inclusive systems and research design approaches. With digital and networking information technologies throwing down many challenges for archival and recordkeeping endeavours, in both my teaching and my research I like to explore how they may help us develop better archival and recordkeeping infrastructures, in turn enriching our understanding of records, archives and archivists in society. My Connecting the Disconnected Future Fellowship research program is investigating the development of a participatory archival design methodology.