Public Consultation Announcement - Northern Ireland Historical Institutional Abuse Inquiry

The Inquiry into Historical Institutional Abuse officially fulfilled its Terms of Reference on 30 June 2017. In its report, the inquiry has made recommendations regarding:

  • an apology

  • a memorial

  • additional service provision/specialist care and help for those who were abused

  • a statutory Commissioner for Survivors of Institutional Childhood Abuse (COSICA)

  • financial compensation to be administered by a Redress Board

  • annual grant funding for the Child Migrants Trust

To read the final report and recommendations, go to:

Historical institutional abuse inquiry

Next steps

In the absence of a functioning Executive and without the necessary political authority, the report’s recommendations cannot be put in place yet. In the meantime, the Executive Office (TEO) has been taking forward preparatory work and has drafted legislation on the basis of the recommendations made in the HIA Inquiry’s report with regard to the establishment of a:

  • Commissioner for Survivors of Institutional Childhood Abuse

  • Redress Board, which would administer payments of financial compensation

  • compensation scheme

Public consultation

TEO are conducting a public consultation on the draft legislation. The consultation is now open and will run for a 12-week period until 10 February 2019. More information and details on how to respond are available at: Historical Institutional Abuse Consultation

This consultation is being fully publicised online, in the press and on social media and will afford victims and survivors, and the wider public, the opportunity to provide feedback on the legislative proposals.

TEO will also be engaging with stakeholders over the course of the consultation period. Details of the first of the information sessions are:

Clayton Hotel, Belfast from 4.00 pm until 6.00 pm on 4 December 2018

Maldron Hotel, Derry from 4.00 pm until 6.00 pm on 5 December 2018

To register for one of these events email: HIAConsultation@executive-office.ni.gov.uk

or telephone: 028 9052 3250 (HIA Implementation Branch)

Details of further engagement events will be available at HIA Consultation

Content extracted from https://www.nidirect.gov.uk/articles/historical-institutional-abuse

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Australian Prime Minister Apologises To Victims Of Institutional Child Sex Abuse

The Child Migrants Trust welcomes the National Apology delivered by Prime Minister Scott Morrison today in Canberra.

The full text of the Apology is shown below.

 Prime Minister of Australia Scott Morrison

Prime Minister of Australia Scott Morrison

PRIME MINISTER: Mr Speaker, let me first welcome all those who have come here today.

Whether you sit here in this Chamber, the Great Hall, outside elsewhere in the nation’s capital. Your living room. In your bed, unable to rise today or speak to another soul. Your journey to where you are today has been a long and painful one, and we acknowledge that and we welcome you today wherever you are.

Mr Speaker, silenced voices. Muffled cries in the darkness.

Unacknowledged tears. The tyranny of invisible suffering.

The never heard pleas of tortured souls bewildered by an indifference to the unthinkable theft of their innocence.

Today, Australia confronts a trauma – an abomination – hiding in plain sight for far too long.

Today, we confront a question too horrible to ask, let alone answer.

Why weren’t the children of our nation loved, nurtured and protected?

Why was their trust betrayed?

Why did those who know cover it up?

Why were the cries of children and parents ignored?

Why was our system of justice blind to injustice?

Why has it taken so long to act?

Why were other things more important than this, the care of innocent children?

Why didn't we believe?

Today we dare to ask these questions, and finally acknowledge and confront the lost screams of our children.

While we can’t be so vain to pretend to answers, we must be so humble to fall before those who were forsaken and beg to them our apology.

A sorry that dare not ask for forgiveness.

A sorry that dare not try and make sense of the incomprehensible or think it could.

A sorry that does not insult with an incredible promise.

A sorry that speaks only of profound grief and loss.

A sorry from a nation that seeks to reach out in compassion into the darkness where you have lived for so long.

Nothing we can do now will right the wrongs inflicted on our nation’s children.

Even after a comprehensive Royal Commission, which finally enabled the voices to be heard and the silence to be broken, we will all continue to struggle.

So today we gather in this Chamber in humility. Not just as Representatives of the people of this country, but as fathers, as mothers, as siblings, friends, workmates, and in some cases, indeed as victims and survivors.

Ngunnawal means ‘meeting place’. And on this day of apology, we meet together.

We honour every survivor in this country, we love you, we hear you and we honour you.

No matter if you are here at this meeting place or elsewhere, this apology is to you and for you.

Your presence and participation makes tangible our work today – and it gives strength to others who are yet to share what has happened in their world.

Elsewhere in this building and around Australia, there are others who are silently watching and listening to these proceedings, men and women who have never told a soul what has happened to them. To these men and women I say this apology is for you too.

And later when the speeches are over, we will stand in silence and remember the victims who are not with us anymore, many too sadly by their own hand.

As a nation, we failed them, we forsook them. That will always be our shame.

This apology is for them and their families too.

As one survivor recently said to me, “It wasn’t a foreign enemy who did this to us – this was done by Australians.” To Australians. Enemies in our midst.

Enemies. In. Our. Midst.

The enemies of innocence.

Look up at the galleries, look at the Great Hall, look outside this place and you will see men and women from every walk of life, from every generation, and every part of our land.

Crushed, abused, discarded and forgotten.

The crimes of ritual sexual abuse happened in schools, churches, youth groups, scout troops, orphanages, foster homes, sporting clubs, group homes, charities, and in family homes as well.

It happened anywhere a predator thought they could get away with it, and the systems within these organisations allowed it to happen and turned a blind eye.

It happened day after day, week after week, month after month, and decade after decade. Unrelenting torment.

When a child spoke up, they weren’t believed and the crimes continued with impunity.

One survivor told me that when he told a teacher of his abuse, that teacher then became his next abuser.

Trust broken.

Innocence betrayed.

Power and position exploited for evil dark crimes.

A survivor named Faye told the Royal Commission, “Nothing takes the memories away. It happened 53 years ago and it’s still affecting me.”

One survivor named Ann said, “My mother believed them rather than me”.

I also met with a mother whose two daughters were abused by a priest the family trusted. Suicide would claim one of her two beautiful girls and the other lives under the crushing weight of what was done to her.

As a father of two daughters, I can’t comprehend the magnitude of what she has faced.

Not just as a father but as Prime Minister, I am angry too at the calculating destruction of lives and abuse of trust, including those who have abused the shield of faith and religion to hide their crimes, a shield that is supposed to protect the innocent, not the guilty. And they stand condemned.

One survivor says it was like “becoming a stranger to your parents.”

Mental health illnesses, self-harm, and addictions followed.

The pain didn’t stop with adulthood.

Relationships with partners and children became strained as survivors struggled with the conflicting currents within them.

Parents and siblings felt guilt and sadness for what they had missed, for what and whom they chose to believe, and for what they did not see.

While survivors contemplated what could have been.

A survivor named Rodney asks the question so common to so many survivors, he wonders about “the person I may have become, or the person I could have become if I didn’t have all of this in my life.”

Death can take many forms. In this case the loss of a life never lived, a life denied.

Another survivor, Aiden spoke of not getting justice because his abuser had died. He said, “I was bereft because I was robbed. I was robbed of my day in court. I wanted to tell the world what he did. That was stolen. That was him again, taking control.”

Mr Speaker, today, as a nation, we confront our failure to listen, to believe and to provide justice.

And again today, we say sorry.

To the children we failed, sorry.

To the parents whose trust was betrayed and who have struggled to pick up the pieces, sorry.

To the whistle-blowers who we did not listen to, sorry.

To the spouses, partners, wives, husbands and children who have dealt with the consequences of the abuse, cover-ups and obstruction, sorry.

To generations past and present, sorry.

Mr Speaker, as part of our work leading us to this day, I recently met with the National Apology Survivor’s Reference Group, as did the Leader of the Opposition, who are with us here today.

I want to thank this wonderful group of people and brave people.

Many are survivors; they have all worked so hard to make today a reality.

They said to me that an apology without action is just a piece of paper and it is. And today they also wanted to hear about our actions.

It is a fair call.

In outlining our actions, I want to recognise the work of my predecessors, former Prime Minister Gillard, who is with us here today, and I thank you for your attendance. Former Prime Minister Rudd, the Member for Warringah, who continues to serve us here in this place, and the former Prime Minister, Mr Turnbull. I want to thank them for their compassion and leadership as they also confronted these terrible failings.

The foundations of our actions are the findings and recommendations of the Royal Commission, initiated by Prime Minister Gillard.

The steady compassionate hand of the Commissioners and staff resulted in 17,000 survivors coming forward and nearly 8,000 of them recounting their abuse in private sessions of the Commission.

We are all grateful to the survivors who gave evidence to the Commission. It is because of your strength and your courage that we are gathered here today.

Many of the Commissioners and staff are also with us today and I thank them also.

Mr Speaker, acting on the recommendations of the Royal Commission with concrete action gives practical meaning to today’s Apology.

The Commonwealth, as our national Government, must lead and coordinate our response.

The National Redress Scheme has commenced.

I thank the State and Territory Governments for their backing of the scheme.

The Scheme is about recognising and alleviating the impact of past abuse, and providing justice for survivors.

The Scheme will provide survivors with access to counselling and psychological services, monetary payments, and, for those who want one – and I stress for those who want one – a direct personal response from an institution where the abuse occurred.

It will mean – that after many years, often decades, of denials and cover-ups — the institutions responsible for ruining lives admit their wrongdoing and the terrible damage they caused.

The National Office of Child Safety is another big step forward to ensuring the prevention and detection of child abuse, wherever it occurs.

It was announced as part of our Government’s response to the Royal Commission and was established from July 1 of this year within the Department of Social Services.

As Prime Minister, I will be changing these arrangements to ensure that the National Office of Child Safety will report to me. It will reside within the portfolio of Prime Minister and Cabinet, as it should. The Minister for Social Services will assist me in this role, including reporting to me on the progress of Royal Commission recommendations and the activities of the Office of Child Safety.

The Office has already begun it’s work to raise awareness of child safety and to drive cultural change in institutions in the community – to ensure that the systemic failures and abuses of power that brought us here today are not repeated.

Importantly, children themselves are being empowered to participate in these initiatives – because our children must be heard, and when it comes to the work of safety, it must be approachable and child friendly. They must know who they can tell, and they must be believed, and they must know where they can go.

All Australian Governments are now working together to establish a national database, to ensure higher standards for working with children and that data about people’s ability to work with children is shared nationally.

And our work does not stop at our borders.

We are ensuring children across the world are protected by stopping child sex offenders from travelling overseas without permission, which will disrupt, prevent and investigate the abuse of children globally.

And we recognise that as survivors age, those who were abused in or by an institution, have real fears about entering into aged care facilities.

It’s an understandable fear given what happened during childhood, and we will work with survivor groups about what we can to do alleviate those fears and indeed the work of the Royal Commission into aged care will be able to address this as well.

And to assist with lasting change we recognise that there are many more survivors who were abused in other settings such as their own homes and in their communities, who will not be covered by this redress scheme.

These survivors also need to be heard, and believed, and responded to with services to address their needs. So today, I commit to fund the establishment of a National Centre of Excellence, and I call on the states and territories to work as partners in this venture. This Centre will be the place to raise awareness and understanding of the impacts of child sexual abuse, to deal with the stigma, to support help seeking and guide best practice for training and other services.

All of this is just the start.

The Australian Government has not rejected a single recommendation of the Royal Commission.

We are now actively working on 104 of the 122 recommendations that were addressed to the Commonwealth. The 18 remaining are being closely examined, in consultation with states and territories.

Today we commit that from December this year, we will report back to the Australian people, through the Parliament, to be held accountable each year, each year, on the progress we are making on the recommendations over the next five years and then beyond.

We will shine a spotlight on all parts of government to ensure we are held accountable.

And the institutions which perpetrated this abuse, covered it up and refused to be held accountable, must be kept on the hook.

Already, many of those organisations have made their own apologies and have signed up to be a part of the National Redress Scheme, as they should.

But there are others yet to join, and today I simply say that justice, decency and the beliefs and values we share as Australians, insists that they sign on.

Today I also commit to establishing a National Museum, a place of truth and commemoration, to raise awareness and understanding of the impacts of child sexual abuse.

We will work with survivor groups, to ensure your stories are recorded, that your truth is told, that our nation does not turn from our shame, and that our Nation will never forget the untold horrors you experienced.

Through this we will endeavour to bring some healing to our nation and to learn from our past horrors.

We can never promise a world where there are no abusers. But we can promise a country where we commit to hear and believe our children.

To work together to keep children safe, to trust them and most of all respect their innocence.

Mr Speaker, I present the formal apology to be tabled in this Parliament today, which will be handed to those in the Great Hall shortly. It reflects all of the sentiments that I have expressed on behalf of the Australian people, this Parliament and our Government.

And as I table that and, as I do, I simply say: I believe you. We believe you. Your country believes you.

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Australian National Redress Scheme - Sunday 1st July 2018

The National Redress Scheme is now open to accept applications from Australian citizens or permanent residents who were sexually abused as children in Australian institutions. 

It is expected to be available for 10 years.

  • There is no requirement to give your evidence in person and applications can be made in writing.
  • The maximum award under the redress scheme, for those assessed as experiencing the most serious abuse, will be $150,000.
  • Any previous payments for historic abuse will be taken into account in the assessment and the final award will be adjusted accordingly.

Factsheets and application forms are available on the Government's National Redress Scheme website at https://www.nationalredress.gov.au/

Please contact the Child Migrants Trust if you would like any further clarification and assistance to prepare your application for redress.  

Our Freephone number in Australia is 1800 04 05 09 or you can email us directly at enquiries@childmigrantstrust.com.

Further contact details for CMT’s offices can be found here.


COMMENTS:
"The Redress Scheme in its present form is no good for us former Child Migrants. Because of the conditions in it, there will be little or nothing for us. Because of this we have no choice but to reject it for the following reasons:
1. Apart from our statements we have had no input into the settlement. 
2. It has been imposed on us without any negotiations with us.
3. We feel as if we are back in the Institutions where we had no rights and everything was imposed on us.
4. Not all the trauma such as physical and mental assaults, and the illegal removal of Child Migrants from their families and their Countries has ever been settled. 
Further no care was ever given to Child Migrants when placed on Farms with little or no pay given to them. Many, including myself, worked very long hours living in horrible conditions with no Welfare checks on us.  It is no wonder that many of the employers could use us in any way they liked. 
Further no Governments for many decades made any attempts to link Child Migrants back with their families, which was a very large source of their trauma. 
Yours Sincerely,
Michael O’ Donoghue
Child Migrant"

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Gordon Brown calls on PM to issue national apology and give new help to hundreds of child migrant victims of sexual abuse

Gordon Brown IICSA.jpg

March 1st, 2018

Responding to publication of today’s IICSA report, former Prime Minister Gordon Brown said:

“What today’s inquiry has revealed is sexual abuse, not only on an unimaginable scale, but over decades against the most vulnerable of vulnerable children separated from their families. British officials DID know of the risk to the children when they were dispatched abroad in what can only be called a form of state-sponsored trafficking for which Britain now has to make amends. 

“Let us be clear that the abuse against British-born children is even greater in its scale and longevity than the Savile or Bennell abuses.

“Firstly now that the inquiry has found that governments of the day were "primarily responsible" for the "deeply flawed” scheme, the Prime Minister has to make a new national apology for the treatment suffered by what we now believe are hundreds of child migrants subjected to abuse, both in the UK and when they were sent abroad.  This apology should be made in Parliament and it should be delivered also by letter to the surviving migrants.

“The apology I gave in 2010 was to children forced abroad against their will with no choice in the matter.  Now we have to apologise for an even bigger crime - the abuse so many of them suffered at the hands of paedophiles.

“Secondly, all British and international organisations whose staff were engaged in practising or hiding the abuse of children must now answer publicly and directly for their misdemeanors.

“Thirdly, it is right that compensation has to be given to those who are still alive but now that we know the scale and nature of abuse it is also completely unacceptable to run down the Family Restoration Fund whose work the inquiry has welcomed.

“The Government must ensure that the fund is financed for the time being to honour our offer of support and in particular to help almost 1,000 victims yet be given help to visit their families in the UK.”

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Malcolm Turnbull to deliver national apology

 Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull (Photograph: Mike Bowers for the Guardian)

Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull (Photograph: Mike Bowers for the Guardian)

Malcolm Turnbull will make a national apology before the end of the year to victims of abuse in the wake of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.

The Prime Minister confirmed the Government’s intentions in a statement to parliament in Canberra on Thursday. 

“We owe it to survivors not to waste this moment and we must continue to be guided by their wishes,” Turnbull said. “As a nation, we must mark this occasion in a form that reflects the wishes of survivors and that affords them the dignity to which they were entitled as children – but which was denied to them by the very people who were tasked with their care.”

Click here to read the full speech (Hansard House of Representatives extract)
 

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Royal Commission final report presented to the Governor-General

  12th January 2013, Sydney - Former Prime Minister of Australia, the Hon. Julia Gillard MP pictured with Margaret Humphreys CBE, OAM

12th January 2013, Sydney - Former Prime Minister of Australia, the Hon. Julia Gillard MP pictured with Margaret Humphreys CBE, OAM

The following statement was made by Margaret Humphreys, International Director of the Child Migrants Trust:

“Today the Australian Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse delivered its final report.  It makes shocking reading.  

The Child Migrants Trust is proud to have been a key stakeholder in the most significant inquiry into the sexual abuse of children.  

Australia leads the world on this issue.  The Commissioners have our huge respect for their courage and tenacity.   We look forward to its conclusions being implemented after due consideration.”
 

  26th March 2015 - Former Child Migrants gather for the Royal Commission hearings in Sydney

26th March 2015 - Former Child Migrants gather for the Royal Commission hearings in Sydney

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Gordon Brown tells inquiry that 2,000 forgotten child migrants must be compensated over abuse

 Former Prime Minister Gordon Brown - Thursday 20th July 2017

Former Prime Minister Gordon Brown - Thursday 20th July 2017

BY THE OFFICE OF GORDON AND SARAH BROWN JULY 20, 2017:

In what he says could be “the worst national sex abuse scandal in numbers, length of time unchecked and geographical scope”, Gordon Brown says migrant children who suffered horrific attacks before and after being sent to Australia and other Commonwealth countries should be compensated before they die.

The former Prime Minister, who today gave evidence to the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse, says he has become aware of so many cases he describes as “grave, horrifying and sickening”.

And he has demanded that a current Government minister must appear before the inquiry to explain why no further action has been taken since he made an apology on behalf of the UK in 2010.

He says the 2,000 child migrants – who are still alive – need not just an apology but proper redress and compensation.

Mr Brown said: “Children were denied a childhood, an identity, a family and any sense of belonging. That violation of human rights led to the 2010 apology I made on behalf of the UK.

 A group of British children arrive in Australia in 1947

A group of British children arrive in Australia in 1947

“Many, some as young as three – and this was happening as recently as the 1970s – were sent abroad, often having been falsely told their parents were dead.

“But, given the new evidence of sexual abuse, our apology told only half of the story.

“The sheer scale of sexual abuse of British-born girls and boys could be worse than in the Savile scandal and further children’s homes outrages we are aware of.

”Clearly, successive governments have failed in a duty of care.”

In February, 2010, Mr Brown, who was then Prime Minister, apologised on behalf of the nation to the child migrants.

More than 130,000 UK children, some as young as three, were sent abroad to former colonies such as Australia from the 1920s to the 1960s with the promise of a new life.

Instead, they were often left vulnerable to cruelty and, in many cases, physical, emotional and sexual abuse.

After campaigning by the Child Migrants Trust – headed by Dr Margaret Humphreys who has done amazing, extraordinarily-detailed and compassionate work over three decades revealed this – and an apology by the then Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, Mr Brown said in 2010: “To all those former child migrants and their families, we are truly sorry. You were let down.”

At the time Mr Brown also announced £6million for the Family Restoration Fund to help reunite former child migrants with their families.

Yesterday, however, Mr Brown said that the 2010 apology told only half of the story and he urged the inquiry: “Because we failed in our duty of care, it is now time to compensate the 2,000 child migrants still alive.

“In Australia, a national redress scheme may offer up to 150,000A$ to abused migrants. It is for Australian and other Commonwealth countries to compensate for the failure to protect and prosecute when children came to their country.

“In the recent Northern Ireland Inquiry, compensation has also been recommended. At a minimum, we should match Northern Ireland in what would be a £40million fund for national redress.

“And a UK Government minister should now come before the inquiry to explain how, as a country, the new evidence since 2010 was not acted upon and how we will offer remedy.

“My apology seven years ago was for the gross inhumane violation of rights by forcibly removing children, depriving them of identity, family and any sense of belonging.

“An unknown but clearly large number of these children were subjected to horrific assaults sometimes before, sometimes during, but in the main after they left the UK.

“Because successive governments failed in what I call their duty of care these 2,000 surviving migrants all need and deserve redress.

“And a serving cabinet minister needs to explain why governments, since 2010, have failed to act on the horrifying new evidence we now have.”

Mr Brown told the inquiry that 1,000 families have been reunited since 2010.

He added: “Many more want to be brought together before they die. There are 100 on a waiting list to come to the UK to meet their families and the Child Migrants Trust must continue to be able to bring migrants to reunite families. So in addition to the redress they need guaranteed funding for at least another five years

‘It is clear that the Australian and UK apologies in 2009 and 2010 led to a willingness to talk and brought out into the open, after 2010, the vast scale of sexual and other abuse.

“The inquiry has to put in place procedures that must ensure such abuse and violation never happens again.”

The article can be accessed here

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U.K. Apology to former Child Migrants - 7th Anniversary

PM_Theresa_May_Official_Photo.jpg

To mark the occasion of the 7th Anniversary of the UK Government apology to Britain's former Child Migrants, Prime Minister Theresa May said:

“We must never forget the harm caused to child migrants and the distress caused to thousands of families who were unjustly broken up by the child migration schemes.

“While we cannot undo their suffering, we owe it to victims and survivors to continue to learn from the mistakes of the past.

“That is why, seven years on from the National Apology, I am pleased hundreds of families have been reunited through the Family Restoration Fund and that the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse is currently investigating allegations of child sexual abuse in the British child migration programmes.”

The video links below show the 2010 statement by Gordon Brown and the response of Harold Haig, Secretary of the International Association of former Child Migrants and their Families:

 

 

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The Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse – the first public hearings for the Child Migration Programmes

On Monday 27 February 2017, the first public hearings connected to the Child Migration Programmes case study began in London, as the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) heard evidence in public for the first time.

IICSA was established as a statutory inquiry on 12 March 2015 to consider the growing evidence of institutional failures to protect children from child sexual abuse, and to make recommendations to ensure the best possible protection for children in future. It has launched thirteen investigations into a variety of institutions as part of the first phase of its work, and as part of the “Protection of Children Outside the United Kingdom” investigation, IICSA took the decision to divide such investigation into a number of narrower case studies. This includes the subject of the hearings that begin on 27 February 2017: a case study investigating institutional failings of organisations based in England and Wales relating to the sexual abuse of children involved in Child Migration Programmes.

A summary of IICSA’s background statement relating to Child Migration Programmes and associated child sexual abuse can be found here.

The Child Migrants Trust, along with other entities and individuals, has been designated as a ‘core participant’. This is a formal role, as defined by legislation, and affords core participants with special rights in IICSA’s processes, including the disclosure of documentation and being represented and making legal submissions during IICSA’s hearings.

As some former child migrants prepare to give their testimony to the Inquiry in the following two weeks, the Child Migrants Trust will be supporting them as they tell the people of Britain what happened to them so that lessons can be learnt and justice delivered.

The Inquiry proceedings were live-streamed online and the recordings can be viewed here.

For all media relations queries, please contact Alex Barros-Curtis, telephone: 07877 065866

About the Child Migrants Trust
 

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Past Prime Minister Gordon Brown's news item today

In 2010 I made an official apology to former child migrants sent abroad - my apology was incomplete

Many of these 4,000 child migrants were also sexually abused and we owe it to all of them to hold responsible those to blame

For the full article please click here

In response, Margaret Humphreys, International Director of the Child Migrants Trust says:

"Gordon Brown apologised to all former Child Migrants and their families in 2010 on behalf of the nation.  After apology must surely follow truth and justice.

The British Child Migration Schemes cast a very long, dark shadow over the lives of thousands of young British children, their families and our country too.

At last, their testimony will be given to the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA).

Child Migrants have waited all their lives for this opportunity to bear witness to their Country.  We must surely listen, learn lessons and deliver justice."

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Victoria Wood CBE

It is with great sadness and sorrow that we learnt of the death yesterday of Victoria Wood, the award winning British comedian, actress and writer.

The human legacy of the child migration schemes was featured in Victoria Wood's 2007 documentary for BBC1, “Victoria’s Empire”. Filming in Melbourne included an interview with Harold Haig, former Child Migrant and Margaret Humphreys, CMT's International Director.

Our thoughts are with Victoria Wood’s family, friends and colleagues at this time.

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U.K. Apology to former Child Migrants - 6th Anniversary

The Prime Minister, David Cameron, said:

“Six years ago the nation apologised to child migrants for their suffering.   The anniversary is an opportunity to remind ourselves why that apology was needed.  That is why I am pleased that, since October, the Museum of Childhood, in its exhibition about child migrants, has been helping us to remember and to help newer generations of children learn about the past.  

I am also pleased that, in the five and a half years since the Family Restoration Fund was established, over 900 people have been helped to be reunited with their loved ones.”

Rt Hon Gordon Brown said: 

“Six years today the historic apology was made by me on behalf of the British people and by Kevin Rudd on behalf of the Australian people. As I have said before, I know that time does not lessen the pain or diminish the widespread sense of injustice—nor will it ever do so to our satisfaction.

From the 1920s to the 1960s 150,000 children were torn from their families and sent thousands of miles from home on the promise of a better life. The Royal Commission in Australia has taken evidence of serious abuse of our children both in Australia and in residential homes within the UK prior to being sent to the other side of the world.  This confirms the validity of the apology and warns us to be ever vigilant in safeguarding vulnerable children.

The Family Restoration Fund we established in 2010 has enabled over 900 visits by men and women who were Child Migrants to meet with their families, many for the first time following a lifetime of enforced separation. This means that former child migrants can take part in family gatherings and visit their relatives who are ill. The oldest traveller is 92 years old, showing that the desire to meet one's family does not diminish with age nor does the need to do so end at an arbitrary date. I believe strongly that as a nation we must continue to support the families who have suffered and do so for as long as they wish.

As I said in 2010: "we cannot change history, but I believe that by confronting the failings of the past we can show we are determined to do all we can to heal the wounds"."

The video links below show the 2010 statement by Gordon Brown and the response of Harold Haig, Secretary of the International Association of former Child Migrants and their Families:

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BBC Radio 4 - Woman's Hour

Actor, Eleanor Bron talks about her recent role in the play "Forget Me Not" at London's Bush Theatre, alongside Margaret Humphreys, director of the Child Migrants Trust. “Forget Me Not" examines the consequences of the policy of sending so called 'vulnerable' British children to Australia in the 50's and 60's, many of whom then grew up in appalling conditions.

Click here to listen to this broadcast.

 

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'Forget Me Not' play opened at the Bush Theatre, London

The longest journey home this Christmas…

In Australia, Gerry hopes to meet his mother for the first time. Despite being almost sixty, he has spent his whole life believing he’s an orphan.

In Liverpool, Mary brews a good, strong pot of tea. Nothing posh. But she’s as nervous as a pig at a butcher’s.

Determined to uncover his past, Gerry and his daughter Sally embark on an extraordinary journey home – halfway across the world – in a precarious bid to bring their family together.

Through a programme created by the British Government and eagerly supported by an Australia in the throes of its ‘White Australia’ policy, between 1945 and 1968 over three thousand British children were told they were orphans and sent to Australia on a promise of warmth, fresh air, abundant food and opportunity. Instead they arrived to deprived institutions where neglect and abuse were the norm. Tom Holloway’s tender new play unearthed a secret buried by time that, in turn, exposed a world of historical injustices currently in the limelight.

This European premiere was directed by HighTide’s award-winning Artistic Director, Steven Atkinson and ran from 8th December 2015 to 16th January 2015.

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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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Renewed calls for inquiry into abuse of British children ‘trafficked’ to abusive institutions

New exhibition at V&A Museum of Childhood draws attention to the plight of British child migrants

Andy Burnham MP, Shadow Home Secretary and Former child migrants renewed calls on the Prime Minister for a full judicial inquiry into their treatment as a new exhibition into their plight opens at the V&A Museum of Childhood.

The International Association of former Child Migrants has been campaigning for a judicial inquiry to investigate why they were trafficked as children from the UK to Commonwealth countries without their parents' knowledge or consent. 

The forced deportation of an estimated 100,000 British children, some as young as four years old, continued until 1970. 

Many of the children suffered abuse in UK institutions and were then deported to abusive, understaffed orphanages where they endured further torture, criminal assaults and unspeakable acts of brutality. 

Their call for a full judicial inquiry is supported by the Child Migrants Trust, as further evidence emerges. 

This new exhibition On Their Own: Britain’s child migrants begins at the V&A Museum of Childhood from 24 October 2015 until 12 June 2016.

In June 2015, 150 former students at the Fairbridge Farm school in New South Wales, which was mainly attended by British children, won $(AUS)24m for abuse which took place between 1938 and 1974. The settlement was the largest for survivors of child abuse in Australia’s legal history.

Testimony from former British child migrants has been given to the Australian Royal Commission into institutional responses to child sexual abuse which is now investigating the response of authorities to allegations of child sexual abuse across Australia. 

In the UK, Parliament launched a Health Select Committee inquiry into Britain’s Child Migrants in 1997. However, the Chairman of the inquiry, former Labour MP for Wakefield, David Hinchliffe, told the Times last year that the inquiry was “grossly under-resourced and ill-prepared for the circumstances we uncovered”.

The British Government made a public apology to child migrants and their families in 2010. Speaking at that time, Prime Minister Gordon Brown said:

“Children as young as three were sent alone to the farthest corners of the world. The names and birthdays of some were deliberately changed so that it would be impossible for families to reunite. Some were dispatched without the consent of their mother or father. 

“Indeed many parents did not know their children had been sent to foreign shores at all – they had no idea where you were, no way of bringing you home. And this cruel and unnatural practice was, not so much transportation as deportation – deportation from your mother country.”

Margaret Humphreys CBE, OAM who founded the Child Migrants Trust, endorsed the call for a full judicial inquiry to establish how children were selected in the UK and sent to Australia to face further abuse, given the clear degree of deception and cover up that has devastated so many British families. 

She said: “It is vitally important that the British Government investigates allegations of childhood abuse in UK institutions, how those children were selected then trafficked to endure further abuse in Australia.

“The Government should now begin a full judicial inquiry into how thousands of our British children, many with families in the UK, were forcibly set abroad without their families to face appalling brutalities on the other side of the world.”

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Fairbridge Anniversary, Vancouver Island, Canada

Former U.K. Child Migrants meet today to mark the 80th Anniversary of the establishment of the Prince of Wales Fairbridge Farm School near Cowichan Station, Vancouver Island.

Margaret Humphreys, International Director of the Child Migrants Trust, recently met in the U.S.A. with Roddy Mackay, President of the Fairbridge Canada Association, to discuss the Family Restoration Fund and other post-apology developments and concerns.

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