Saturday, 24 September 2011
British children deported to Australia
Hopes and dreams - deported down under
Inside Out follows the story of the children who were deported to Australia in the 1940's, '50s and '60s.
They say the British Government has snubbed them and will be happy to see them die rather than help them.
Shipped Down Under
Between 1947 and 1967 up to 10,000 children were shipped to Australia.
They were sent to populate a nation with what was called at the time "good white stock".
Former child deportee John Hennessey (right) with his mother
They were also the unwilling contestants in a competition between religious faiths to boost their numbers.
Parents weren't told the truth.
Their children lost their real identities and were told they were orphans going on holiday to a place where the sun always shines.
The policy was endorsed by Government of the day.
It was cheaper to send children to Australia than care for them on British soil.
It cost £5 a day to care in the UK but only 10 shillings in Australian institutions.
Those who suffered the harshest treatment were the boys sent to Bindoon, an isolated institution north of Perth.
The Catholic Christian Brothers ran it. Children built it.
British children were forced to do hard labour until they were 16-years-old.
Some of them had unimaginable abuse inflicted on them.
The practice continued until 1967 when it was stopped.
It was a Nottinghamshire Social Worker, Margaret Humphreys who uncovered the scandal and the scale of Britain's child migration. "Tony Blair can find money for wars but he can't find money to help former child migrants be reunited with their loved ones".
John Hennessey, former child migrant
Twenty years ago she established the Child Migrants Trust, a charity which helps to reunite and support long lost families.
It's a charity which values its independence from the agencies which sent the children away.
Yet proper funding has been infrequent over the years.
Only the early and continued intervention of Nottinghamshire County Council has kept the Trust going.
The Child Migrants Trust now has bases in two Australian cities and gets Government funding towards its costs.
But the funding was cut by a third last year… and again for the next financial year.
This has been a huge setback for the organisation.
Sense of loss
Not all the children deported to Australia after World War Two experienced abuse.
A few have done well for themselves.
The child migrants were put to work
Many more struggled after suffering the loss of their childhood and any sense of family.
In the worst cases the children are dead or in institutions.
What MPs found out shocked them.
After the Health Committee report, the Government announced a £1 million travel fund, to be spent over three years.
The money was only for former migrants to make one visit home if close members of their original families were still alive.
It paid for 300 reunions.
But now there's nothing to keep families together or help former migrants visit graves.
Norman Johnston from the International Association of former Child Migrants says the British Government travel fund should only have been a start, and a failure to right the wrongs of the past is shameful.
Opening the door to child migrant support
In November 2005 the Association went to see Helen Liddle, the High Commissioner, in Canberra.
They have also written to Beverley Hughes requesting a meeting, and a letter has been sent to the Prime Minister.
What the Association wants is redress from the British Government - reparation for individuals who were denied justice because of the time limits on legal action.
What the Child Migrants Trust needs is sufficient funding to allow it to do its work tracing and reuniting families.
Time is running out as the migrants get older.
But they are also now dealing with a second generation… children of migrants who are suffering because of their parents suffering.