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Shortlisted for the Colin Roderick Award 2001


"It's a wonderful story, beautifully, beautifully told…Australia's own Frank McCourt!"
- Sally Loane ABC radio

"A moving story which both breaks the heart and lends it courage"
- Caroline Jones

This is an important story that has long been neglected.
We are familiar with stories of the stolen generation and the British child migrants, but there is a third group about whom very little has been written: their white Australian contemporaries who as a result of family breakdown, court orders or abandonment were institutionalised as children. Personal accounts of these children are simply not well represented.

Kate Shayler (pseudonym) grew up a "homes kid" in the 50's and 60's. Her memoir is more than just an account of her experience as an institutionalised white kid: it's a heartbreaking story of what happens to a child in the absence of emotional support and affection.

A secure and idyllic childhood is suddenly brought to an abrupt end when Kate Shayler's mother dies. Aged four, Kate is placed by her father into the Burnside Presbyterian Homes for children (Pennant Hills, Sydney) along with her two siblings. Sexually abused (played down in the book) by her father on her monthly visits home, the young Kate learns to live by the rules of the home and endure crippling loneliness, cruelty, loss of self and betrayal.

Far from being a litany of despair, Kate manages to weave into her journey of self-discovery a sense of community, camraderie, and humour of a childhood of sorts - a "family" that she was forced to create for herself. "The Long Way Home: The Story of a Homes Kid" will strike a chord with anyone who has ever suffered discrimination, insecurity or the pain of separation from family. It's a timely and profound reminder that every child deserves to be cherished and valued.


A moving memoir that highlights another lost generation of Australian children.


The Long Way Home might even be compared with Christina Stead’s The Man Who Loved Children and Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre in its dramatic recreation of a child’s world.

The Australian

One woman’s journey, beautifully told...This will strike a deep chord with anyone who has known the pain of separation from family.

Daily Telegraph

A moving life story (that) documents a little-known period in Australian welfare history.

Australian Book Review

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Formats & editions

  • Paperback


    March 2, 2001

    Random House Australia

    364 pages

    RRP $22.99

    Online retailers

    • Abbey's Bookshop
    • Angus & Robertson Bookworld
    • Booktopia
    • Boomerang Books
    • Collins Booksellers
    • Dymocks
    • Books Kinokuniya
    • The Nile
    • QBD
    • Readings
    • Robinsons Bookshop

    Find your local bookstore at booksellers.org.au

  • EBook


    September 28, 2011

    Random House Australia

    364 pages

    Online retailers

    • iBooks
    • Amazon Kindle
    • Booktopia
    • eBooks
    • Google Play
    • Kobo

    Find your local bookstore at booksellers.org.au

Also by Kate Shayler

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Pablo Escobar
Leila's Secret
The People Smuggler: The True Story of Ali Al Jenabi
The Cat with the Giant Story
The Undoing Project
Sticky Fingers
Stronger: Fighting Back After the Boston Marathon Bombing
A Fortunate Life
The Diary Of A Young Girl
The Diary Of A Young Girl
Brief Candle in the Dark
For the Glory
Dear Leader
Ned Kelly
Empress Dowager Cixi
Riding the Storm