November 15 2009
On Monday, the Australian government will say sorry to the thousands of children deported there during the twentieth century.
Meanwhile, Gordon Brown, the Prime Minister, will this week say he is to look into what can be done to make amends to all the children who were shipped to Australia, Canada and other former colonies, in schemes undertaken by successive governments up until 1967.
The children were separated from their families and told they were orphans, while the parents were told that they had gone to a better life. But most were brought up in institutions, or by farmers, and many were treated as child slave labour.
A Hollywood film, starring the Oscar-nominated actress Emily Watson, telling the story of the “orphans”, is now in production. Although ministers said they were rescuing children from deprivation, victims’ groups say the reality is that thousands of infants were sent to help populate Australia and other countries with, what was called at the time, “good white stock”.
Not all of those deported after World War Two experienced hard times. Some have done well for themselves. But the majority struggled after suffering the loss of their family. In the worst cases, the migrants are dead or still in institutions.
The Australian government will formally apologise at a special remembrance event in Canberra.
A ceremony will be held in Parliament House where the Prime Minister Kevin Rudd will say sorry, on behalf of the nation, to those who suffered abuse. Following the event, the apology will be tabled in the House of Representatives and the Senate.
Mr Brown will say that a consultation in this country will talk to groups representing the victims, with a view to an apology being made by the British government and any other action which will help those affected, a Downing Street source said.
Although estimates are unreliable, the Government has records of at least 150,000 child migrants from Britain, aged three to 14, of whom about 100,000 went to Canada, and the remainder to Australia, New Zealand, Rhodesia and other British dominions or colonies.
It is thought that during the final period in which the migration policy operated, from 1947 to 1967, between 7,000 and 10,000 children were sent to Australia and more than 500 sent to New Zealand.
The policy, sanctioned and supported by a succession of governments, has been described as “one of the most disgraceful episodes in post war politics”.
The migrated children were euphemistically told they would find an idyllic lifestyle in a new country. In reality, they were often badly cared for, counted as second-class citizens, arrived sick or without a name, and put in over-crowded and run-down institutions.
Among those carers who have come in for particular criticism were the homes of the Christian Brothers, in Australia, where several thousand children were accommodated over the years and where physical and sexual abuse and under-nourishment were reportedly rife.
According to the BBC documentary “Children of the Empire”, aired in 2003, a number of leading charities and agencies such as Barnardos, the Fairbridge Society and The National Children’s Homes co-operated in maintaining the policy for almost six decades despite warnings from independent inspectors.
A little late for analogizes. For many it is too late for them to find their relatives as they have died. They will never know the true meaning of family.
They were treated as slaves, not the innocent children they actually were.
It is a very dark and sad time for Britain and any Country who took the children as a result of the lies, coercion and profiteering.
All parties involved should hang their heads in absolute shame.
The statement “I am sorry” will never give these children back their lives or the dignity they had stolen from them. They have lost more then we can ever imagine. This practice continued up to 1967.
Britain can never claim they upheld Human Rights. Their treatment of children has been appalling. The countries that took the children are no better.
These are the very countries that condemn other countries for Human Rights Violations. Child slaves sold on the open market is not a proud time, for these countries or the Human Rights violations and the Torture of innocent children. These children were treated like they were sub human. While in care in Britain their names were replaced with a number. Children were nothing more then a number. These were British Citizens. Those who are still alive are still British Citizens. They had no choice as to where or what happened to them.
Do read this story of a “Home Child sent to Canada“ it is very enlightening. It explains the process the children went through and the abuse they suffered. Children were stolen from their parents and sold.
Former British child migrants
Earlier this century, several thousand British children mainly in the care of voluntary organisations were emigrated to former
Dominions – mainly Australia, Canada and New Zealand – under several schemes involving the British Government, the Governments of the receiving countries and the voluntary organisations who operated the schemes.
The measures set out were to help former British child migrants were set up as part of the Government’s response to the report by the Parliamentary Select Committee for Health into the Welfare of Former Child Migrants, following an enquiry in 1998. These provisions apply only to those children who were migrated from institutional care in the UK under Government approved schemes. They do not apply to wartime evacuees or to those migrated under other assisted schemes.
The UK Government recognised that the priority for most children who were separated from their families through these schemes was to reestablish contact and – where possible – to reunite with their family.
The Government therefore offered two new kinds of help:
a. an Information Index to help those who wish to
find their family;
b. a Support Fund to help those without means
who have found their family to reunite.
In addition, the Government has also made available extra funding for the Child Migrant Trust, which offers an independent, specialised service for former child migrants and their families.
These pages tell you about these new measures and how they might help you. It also gives some extra information about other groups or organisations that might be able to offer assistance, including details of useful contacts in Australia, Canada and New Zealand.
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THE BRITISH CHILD EMIGRATION SCHEME TO CANADA (1870-1957) Check “The British Home Children Registry” for names of Migrant Children.