Apology to former residents of Fairbridge Farm

The NSW Government apologises to British child migrants sent to Fairbridge Farm School in New South Wales as part of the British child migration policy:

Mr MIKE BAIRD (Manly—Premier, and Minister for Western Sydney): "As the Speaker has mentioned, we have with us in the House today former residents of Fairbridge Farm. I am not sure if every member of Parliament has read the details of what the former residents of Fairbridge Farm have been through, but everyone would be broadly aware of the challenges they have faced. Today I want to place on record the apology I have made to each and every one of the former residents of Fairbridge Farm on behalf of the people of New South Wales. It is something we cannot really put into words.

It is something which tears our hearts apart.

We want to tell those former residents of Fairbridge Farm just how sorry we are. So I will read to the House what I have said to them previously.

I speak on behalf of every member of this House—every Labor Party member, every Independent member, every member of The Greens and every member on this side of the House—in making this apology from the Parliament. I thank each and every one of the former residents of Fairbridge Farm who have come to Parliament House today. I know that they have endured suffering we cannot imagine and I know that coming here today would have taken a special kind of strength. I want to thank them for their courage and for sharing their stories.

On behalf of the State of New South Wales, I want to recognise all former child migrants who attended Fairbridge Farm in Molong, New South Wales. They arrived here as vulnerable and trusting children whose parents wanted nothing more than a better life than the one they could offer. They were not given the future they were promised or the childhood they deserved. They were betrayed by the people whose job it was to protect them; and they were betrayed by this State, which did not ensure their safety. I recognise these wrongs knowing that it will not bring back the childhood they were robbed of.

I acknowledge the harm and the lifelong effects Fairbridge Farm has had on former residents and their families. I acknowledge the burden many of them carry each and every day as a result of their experiences. I am, and we all are, deeply, deeply sorry. Every child has the right to grow up knowing they are loved and wanted. The residents of Fairbridge Farm were not given that opportunity, and we acknowledge the lifelong impact their experience at Fairbridge has had on their relationships, health and employment. This apology is not enough, but I hope that it will go some way to help with their healing. And while it does not undo the damage done, I hope they can gain some comfort from the fact that we live in a very different world today. We now understand far more comprehensively the deep impact abuse and trauma has, and we will never rest when it comes to protecting the fundamental rights of children.

I want to acknowledge all of the former residents of Fairbridge Farm here today, as well as their friends who are no longer here. I want to pay particular tribute to the immense strength and courage Ms Giles and Ms Drady showed in bringing this claim on behalf of others. It has taken too long and the State should have managed the civil litigation process so much better. Thank you for having the courage to share your stories; they have touched me, and they have touched all of us, very deeply. I can promise that we will not forget any of you. Again, we are deeply, deeply sorry; and I want to assure you that institutions like Fairbridge Farm will never happen again."

Members and officers of the House stood in their places as a mark of respect.

© State of New South Wales through the Parliament of New South Wales.

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