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child migration + institutional care « Previous | |Next »
November 18, 2009

"Britain's shameful secret" refers to more than 150,000 British children, most of them from deprived and working class backgrounds, were sent to Commonwealth countries with the promise of a better life – but the reality was often very different, with many facing abuse and a violent regime of unpaid labour. An estimated 7000 to 10 000 child migrants came to Australia between the 1920s and 1967 and they are known as the Forgotten Australians.

A feature of the scheme was the care of children in residential institutions rather than by foster care or adoption. Most were placed in the care of Barnardos, the Fairbridge Society, the Church of England and the Christian Brothers. The Fairbridge Farm Schools were set up to help populate the empire and solve the problems of Britain's mounting numbers of poor and neglected children. The white young immigrants were seen in Australia as a way to address the menace of the teeming millions of its neighbouring Asian races.


Like Gordon Brown in the UK, the Australian prime minister, Kevin Rudd, has apologised for the callous maltreatment of the children in workhouses. The farm school at Molong, near Orange in NSW, which was opened in 1938, rivalled the Christian Brothers' Bindoon 60 miles north of Perth, for its cruelty.

You can see the Long Journey Home documentary on the ABC's iView about the Victorian style poor house that farm school at Molong, near Orange in NSW. The documentary is based around David Hill's Forgotten Children: Fairbridge Farm School And Its Betrayal Of Australia's Child Migrants. There is sadism here.

Both are a reminder that the good old days of Victorian morality were often heartless and brutal for the poor and unprotected.The grim discipline and punshi regime at both Molong and Bindoon was one it was normal for children (male and female) to be flogged until their bones were fractured and to suffer from extensive sexual abuse.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 12:09 PM | | Comments (1)


The heartless exploitation of these children deserves to be recognised. The orphanage industry was in full swing from 1945 until 1973ish when access to abortion became freely available. Women who relinquished children were scarred. The majority of children surplus to adoption needs were raised in state funded orphanages outsourced to churches and other charities. The state failed in its duty of care to oversee and protect wards of the state.

As many bloggers have said, the children suffered from lack of educational opportunity forcing them into unskilled low paid work. They had no parental role models and struggle to be good parents. Sometimes the damage of orphanage care can be seen in the rearing of children, grandchildren etc

The apology says that the care standards of 40 to 50 years ago are not acceptable now and children abused while in care in the 2000s can sue for compensation.

The community expects that the state children's care departments are doing a better job now.