Preceding the establishment of VANISH in 1989, several self-help groups such as JIGSAW, Association of Relinquishing Mothers (Vic) Inc (ARMS Vic) and The Geelong Adoption Program (GAP) had long recognised that people who were involved with self-help could make a special contribution to an adoption information service. These groups had had many years’ experience in providing search assistance and support, and had been consulted when the government’s Adoption Information Service was established following the 1984 Adoption Act.
The Victorian Adoption Act allows adopted adults to obtain their adoption records.
A Department of Human Services (DHS) review concluded that the adoption service needed streamlining; it also recognised that an independent search and support service would help facilitate an efficient and speedy Adoption Information Service, thus reducing the long waiting list.
As a result of the 1987 review (see above)the Victorian Adoption Network for Information and Self Help (V.A.N.I.S.H.) was established. It was, and still is, funded by the Victorian government through DHS to provide a specialised search service for adopted persons, and to provide a support service to those affected by adoption.
V.A.N.I.S.H. was asked by the State Government and agreed to extend its search and support services to former state wards or careleavers 
, another group of Victorians who had been separated from their families of origin.
V.A.N.I.S.H. ceased to be an acronym and was registered as VANISH Inc in order to include both donor conceived people and Forgotten Australians under its umbrella
The Forgotten Australians Senate Report on “Australians who experienced institutional or out-of-home care as children” stated that services to these people were seriously lacking at many levels.
VANISH Inc altered the composition of its Committee of Management to reflect the change of extending services to donor conceived people.
Victorian Parliamentary Apology to the Forgotten Australians.
National Parliamentary Apology to the Forgotten Australians & former Child Migrants.
Establishment of Open Place, a new and separate search and support service for Forgotten Australians but with an on-going relationship with VANISH Inc through the provision of a family tracing service.
Victorian Parliamentary Apology for Past Adoption Practices.
VANISH is funded by the DHS to provide a Workforce Capacity Development project to provide General Practitioners, Allied Health Professionals and Counsellors with knowledge and skills related to services for people affected by adoption and to provide limited counselling and support group services.
National Parliamentary Apology into Forced Adoptions.
Amendment to Victorian Adoption Act (1984) allows parents to receive identifying information about their children lost to adoption, without the need for the adopted person's permission.
2014 VANISH turns 25
 The term 'careleavers' has been replaced by Forgotten Australians as a result of the Forgotten Australians Senate Report 2004.