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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Breaking News: A Record Settlement At Last

Our readers have been following with interest, anger and sorrow the historic abuse disclosures over years in relation to the Fairbridge Farm Schools. 

Former Child Migrants sent to Fairbridge Molong, Australia from the United Kingdom as part of the discredited child migration polices have been awarded $24million, the highest compensation settlement in Australian history. 

There has been a six year legal battle with many obstacles placed in the way causing more hardship for those already living with a lifetime of injustice. The New South Wales and Federal governments and the Fairbridge Foundation should have resolved this issue at a much earlier stage. 

The British Government apologised to Former Child Migrants and their families in 2010 when the former Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, underlined 'this shameful episode...this failure in the first duty of a Nation: to protect its children'. 

Margaret Humphreys said: 'This has been a long time coming. I informed the British and Australian Governments in 1987 of the abuse at Fairbridge in New South Wales.  'Lost Children of The Empire', the book and documentary screened in 1989 also raised the plight of former child migrants and the urgent need for official action.' 

The International Association of former Child Migrants and their Families are restating their call for a judicial inquiry into Britain's child migration schemes, where all roads lead back to Westminster. 

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U.K. Apology to Former Child Migrants - 5th Anniversary

The Prime Minister, David Cameron, said:“Five years ago the nation apologised to the children that were separated from their loved ones and experienced terrible suffering.  Today we remember those children and the nation’s apology.

“Although we cannot undo the wrongs that were done, we can help to repair the damage. That is why we established the Family Restoration Fund, which has helped nearly 800 people to be reunited with their loved ones.  I was pleased to be able to announce this year that the Fund will be extended to 2017, so that many more can be helped.”

Rt Hon Gordon Brown MP said:
It is five years since the historic apology was made by me on behalf of the British people and by Kevin Rudd on behalf of the Australian people. Time, however, does not lessen the pain of former Child Migrants or diminish our sense of injustice—nor will it ever do so to our satisfaction.

Yet we can do more to help those people who have suffered. This year, I have campaigned for the extension of support to cover the whole decade and beyond.  The Family Restoration Fund was set up in 2010 and has now helped nearly 800 former Child Migrants reunite with their families. With your powerful case to back us up, we have succeeded in securing support until at least 2017.

From the 1920s to the 1960s 150,000 children were torn from their families and sent to former colonies on the promise of a better life.  All too often, these children suffered abuse while their families faced the cruelty of separation from their sons and daughters.  We as a nation must continue to support these families 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".

Former MP and Chair of the Health Select Committee, David Hinchliffe said:
"When I retired from Parliament, nearly ten years ago, justice for the former British child migrants was, for me, very much unfinished business.  I recognised that we had made some progress - particularly with many former migrants being re-united with their families - but fundamental questions about how such a scheme could come into being remained unanswered.

The apology from our Prime Minister five years ago was a significant step forward but the former migrants and their families deserve a great deal more.  How could it be that, at a time when the British state was introducing important legal reforms in the way it looked after children in care, successive British governments were transporting thousands of such children to the other side of the world and abandoning responsibility for them?

This crucial question, as well as numerous more about the abuse, ill treatment and exploitation of many of the former migrants in their host countries must, as a matter of urgency, be addressed through an independent judicial inquiry into the child migrant schemes.  On both sides of the world we are urgently addressing the issue of historic child abuse and the plight of our former child migrants should be a key part of this process."

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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Bob Simon, CBS 60 Minutes II

It is with great sadness and sorrow that we learnt of the tragic death in New York yesterday of Bob Simon, the award winning news correspondent for the CBS 60 minutes programme "The Lost Children".

Bob was known, loved and respected by many former Child Migrants for his powerful and sensitive documentary work in 1999, which exposed Britain’s child migration schemes to an American audience. 

Our thoughts are with Bob's family, friends and colleagues at this time.


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