Chapter 5 - Responsibility and reparations
Australian and British
Governments and other agencies including the church now have an obligation to
fulfil and it is not too late to do so. These ‘ruling bodies’ must have worked
in unison when arrangements were being made to deport these children in the
This chapter discusses issues
of responsibility for the child migrants in this country and the role of both
government and non-government bodies in the care of child migrants. The chapter
goes on to discuss the measures of reparation available to child migrants for
the abuses suffered and the responsibilities for providing and funding the
relevant services. The support services and assistance provided by the Child
Migrants Trust and other groups helping child migrants is also discussed.
Role and responsibility of governments and non-government bodies
As noted in chapter 2, the Immigration (Guardianship of Children) Act
1946 placed legal guardianship in the Minister for Immigration for child
migrants from the time they arrived in Australia until the age of 21 years.
However, provision within the Act enabled the Minister to delegate his
functions and powers as guardian to State welfare authorities. Indentures were
then drawn up between the State welfare authorities and the receiving agencies
(the custodians) detailing their respective responsibilities for the care of
The difficulties with these
arrangements in determining responsibility for providing care for migrant
children was demonstrated in New South Wales. While guardianship was delegated
to the NSW Director of Child Welfare, there was concern as to who should have
custodianship of the catholic children. Eventually, it was agreed between
representatives of the governments and the Bishops that the Director of the
Federal Catholic Immigration Committee, a priest who spent much of his time in
the UK, should be the custodian of children in NSW Catholic orphanages.
Guardianship and custodianship were complementary responsibilities. One researcher
has indicated that the Department of Child Welfare, on behalf of the guardian,
‘was frequently critical of the manner in which the custodian undertook his
responsibility to individual children’.
Visits and inspections
Provisions existed for regular,
usually six monthly, inspections of the institutions and more frequent visits
to monitor the welfare of children, though the periods varied between the
States and over the years. Once the migrant children left the institution and
moved into work, often in their mid-teens, welfare was to maintain regular
contact until the child turned 21.
The recollections of child
migrants varied significantly over the extent and scope of the inspections and
visits that were undertaken. Some have no recollections of visits - ‘we never
saw any of these so-called guardians’, ‘they never came and asked if we were
alright’. Others remembered visits, but of them being carefully stage-managed
with special arrangements put in place. The children were not allowed to talk
one-on-one with the visiting welfare officers - ‘people would visit and all the
boys would be made to sit in the classroom so the visitors got a good
impression’, ‘I have memories of occasional inspections by unknown officials as
brief, superficial and with no opportunity to speak or ask questions’.
The Committee also heard of
children being given good clothing and footwear for the day (it was collected
after the visit was over) so as to make a favourable impression for visitors
and of children even being sent away on picnics on visiting day.
The regularity of visits and
the concern shown by welfare officers after children left homes and were placed
in work also appeared to vary considerably.
The only time I had a meal at the house was when the welfare
officer called to see how I was. He had a drink with the boss, never spoke with
me and only spoke with the boss.
Other migrant children reported having regular contact with
a welfare officer, though the calibre appeared to vary considerably between the
Child Welfare Departments were
often overloaded during this period. The Western Australian Department for
Family and Children’s Services submitted that in 1953-54 new procedures were
introduced which incorporated an ongoing case history recording system and
compulsory quarterly reporting for children in care. However, despite these
improvements, ‘planning focussed on the child in his/her placement rather than
the child, plans were always for the immediate future and planning was of an
erratic standard. Welfare officers were under-resourced, over loaded with
cases, poorly trained and generally ill equipped to undertake the sole
responsibility for planning for the needs and future lives of children.’ As noted later in the chapter, the
Forde Commission described a similar situation in relation to the Queensland
Many institutions provided no
after-care, effectively leaving the children to fend for themselves upon
leaving the institution. The Western Australian Department wrote to the
Commonwealth Department of Immigration in February 1959:
The trouble is that neither the Catholic nor the Anglican Church
has an after-care Officer in this State, and in consequence nearly all
follow-up work is carried out by Officers of this Department. We pointed out
the necessity for such an Officer in letters to both Archbishops on 26.7.57 but
unfortunately nothing came of our recommendations in this regard.
According to some submissions
agencies in other States had by the mid to late 1950s made an effort through
the appointment and work of after-care officers.
Commonwealth and State archival
records do contain copies of inspection reports, a number of examples of which
were provided to the Committee. Copies of individual welfare reports that have
been accessed by some migrants in their search for identity have also been
shown to the Committee. The quality and standards of some of these reports also
The UK Health Committee was
‘appalled at the apparent lack of proper monitoring and inspection’ of the
large institutions, commenting that although the prime responsibility for the
neglect of checking procedures was with the State governments concerned, ‘the
sending agencies might have been expected to have investigated more thoroughly
the conditions in which the children were living’.
In a comment reminiscent of
that by the UK Commonwealth Relations Office in reaction to the Australian
Government’s response to the 1956 Ross Report noted in chapter 2, the
Department of Immigration and Multicultural Affairs (DIMA) advised the
From the sample of archival records examined, it appears that
authorities and institutions at the time placed greater importance on the
physical living conditions of the children than on psychological or emotional
The Committee is wary that it
has only seen a selection of the records available from various archives and concedes the Department’s
comment noting ‘that the archival records available only provide ‘snapshots’ of
events over a long period of time rather than a complete, comprehensive history
of child migration to Australia’.
However, while some examples of inspection reports provide a generally good
impression, the Committee believes that the level of information contained is
rudimentary and generally many of these documents are superficial in character.
The Committee considers that in many instances, based on the documentary
evidence available to it, the level of inspections undertaken and the
consideration of the welfare of the children in the institution appear to have
been at best basic and often deficient.
Adequacy of institutional funding
A specific issue relating to
the institutions and their capacity to deliver appropriate levels of care was
the adequacy of the financial support provided to the organisations and
institutions that received child migrants. This is a difficult issue for the
Committee to assess based on the evidence it received.
Dr Barry Coldrey has stated
that the contribution by government in 1947 was about half what it cost to keep
a child in a home, though he has
also noted that ‘since the agencies who arranged the emigration of the children
and their care in Australia were voluntary, they did not expect, and did not
receive full funding from governments’.
However, one former child migrant wrote that in 1957 approved institutions in
Western Australia were receiving a total of 52/3 per child per week and
commented ‘If the basic wage, which was designed to keep a family with a
non-working wife and two children, was then about 12 pounds, it can been seen
that an allowance of about 20% of that sum was quite generous. It certainly
should have provided adequate food and clothing for the children’.
Dr Marion Fox stated that the
Catholic schools and institutions in New South Wales were facing serious
financial and staffing constraints ‘yet the bishops actively sought the
additional burden of deprived British children’. Dr Fox examined correspondence
between the Catholic Immigration Committee, London, and nuns at St Anne’s,
Liverpool during 1951. Not only were the nun’s reservations about taking in
child migrants dismissed, the advantages of capital funding were noted.
Further, it was stated that ‘the payment for maintenance is very good and well
worthwhile as an income’. Indeed, the Director of the New South Wales Child
Welfare Department was of the view that orphanage authorities were seeking
migrants at the expense of Australian children.
Dr Fox concluded, that ‘there
is no reason to doubt that Catholic bishops in the early postwar years regarded
child migration as a work of national importance deserving their
cooperation...Public funding towards capital works and children’s maintenance
provided a pragmatic reason for participation in the program’.
Other witnesses also raised
questions about funding. Broken Rites stated:
...why were these
kids starving? I wonder if there was actually cross-subsidisation going on,
that there was in fact money coming in under the child migrant scheme of X and
some other money coming from the state government for the support of state
wards of Y, but there is this other group of children who were illegitimate,
not able to be supported by their families. They were added to the pool and the
money was just spread out. So what might have been considered to be adequate
and match the costs of the day was not in fact available because there were so
many other children in the system.
Based on the available
evidence, the Committee was not able to draw a definite conclusion on the
adequacy of the payments made by governments for the support of child migrants
in institutional care, but notes that generally, during the child migration
era, funding for institutions in most States was poor. For example, the Forde
Commission noted the underfunding of institutions in Queensland. In New South
Wales and Western Australia there is also evidence of financial difficulties of
homes run by church and other organisations.
Various questions remain
unanswered. Did underfunding lead organisations to place more child migrants in
homes as a source of revenue? Was there cross-subsidisation in institutions
between funding for child migrants and Australian-born children? Was work by
children required to fund their upkeep? Were profits made? The evidence
suggests that these scenarios in combination with others are probably accurate.
Such actions would have been to the detriment of not only former child migrants
but also an Australian-born child in care: poor food; inadequate clothing; and
basic accommodation were the norms of institutional life for many children.
Duty of care
Much has been written and
spoken as to the failure in the duty of care that allowed such appalling levels
of physical and sexual abuse and assault to continue unchecked over a lengthy
period of time in a number of institutions. Why did children not complain or
report abuse to other staff? Why did other staff who must have been aware of
the level of abuse not go to their superiors? Accounts vary in trying to answer
these questions, with a number of factors being influential.
As commented on earlier, fear
was a driving element for the children in some institutions. To speak out on
any issue would simply attract further beatings. A similar attitude also
affected staff in some institutions with the Forde Commission’s reference to
nuns at Neerkol speaking of feelings of intimidation and powerlessness as
junior members of the Order. An authoritarian and hierarchical structure
reinforced obedience, particularly when coupled with a domineering and brutal
personality such as Brother Keaney at Bindoon.
In respect of the Catholic
institutions the powerful aura of the clergy was fundamental. The veneration of
the clergy was so great that children lived in awe and if they spoke of abuse
to outsiders they were not just not believed but damned for ‘telling stories’
against the ‘servants of God’. As the Forde Commission remarked, the prevalent
attitude of unwillingness to accept that a man in the position of priest could
behave improperly and the refusal to entertain such complaints, ‘undoubtedly exposed
the children at Neerkol, as with children in other Catholic orphanages, to the
risk of abuse’.
However, some complaints were
made. Dr Coldrey discussed in The Scheme
instances from his research using various church and state records of sexual
abuse allegations being reported. Even so, the Brothers’ conduct was rarely
investigated with any vigour by their Provincials or Superiors with the denial
by an accused Brother always being accepted against the word of the child
migrant. One example was the allegation against an unnamed Brother as a
consistent abuser at Bindoon and Clontarf in the 1950s. Dr Coldrey wrote that
‘it is possible to say that the weight of allegation against Brother R. is
substantial and he appears to have abused his position in the institutions in
the postwar period. Moreover accusations against him were never investigated
properly.’ The consistent
references by Dr Coldrey to the lack of thorough investigation of complaints
during these postwar years are a damning indictment of the Church and its
agencies in their duty of care to the child migrants.
A further argument as to the
inaction of superiors to adequately investigate the allegedly few complaints
that they received was to protect the reputation of the institution and
prestige of the Church. As noted earlier, the incidence of sexual abuse and the
numbers of Brothers involved was significant at these institutions.
In addition to the knowledge
and concealment of criminal assault by the superiors in the Catholic Church,
submissions outlined stories of concealment and cover-up by the police, by
health personnel and by State authorities. The Committee received stories of
children with markings from being assaulted, ending in hospital and having
their condition described as the result of accidents or other events so that no
follow up action was taken.
While much evidence referred to
disbelief and inaction on reported abuse, the Committee did receive some
examples of instances where action was taken to remove staff following
complaints, though these were usually through the intervention of a third party
and certainly appeared to be the exception to the rule. The examples included:
a former Fairbridge resident who wrote that a
number of staff were dismissed for inappropriate behaviour to the children -
sexual, physical and emotional;
the Mother in charge of Goodwood was moved after
children complained during a visit by the Archbishop of being thrashed.
It is argued that to have
allowed such abuse and assault as outlined in chapter 4 to have occurred,
to have allowed an environment to develop that allowed such abuse to continue
is a clear failure in duty of care to the migrant children. It appears that in
some instances, irrespective of the indentures, the agencies running the
institutions were given far too much autonomy by the State welfare departments.
In this respect the agencies that ran the institutions and the State welfare
departments that permitted such activities to continue unchecked are equally at
The federal government shares
in this responsibility of not taking positive action to protect the welfare of
the migrant children when negative comments were known. The cursory manner with
which the investigation of the 1956 Ross Committee Report was undertaken, as
described in chapter 2, provides an example.
Argument has been forwarded
that Government supervision of the post World War II migration schemes was so
relaxed that the religious orders and institutions were effectively controlling
the migration of the children. It is an object lesson in misplaced trust as
evil and cruel carers cynically and deliberately abused that trust. For example
in 1953 it was discovered that representatives of the Catholic hierarchy in
Australia were going directly to the children’s homes run by religious orders
in the UK to recruit children for migration to Australia. Children were being
sent to Australia without the knowledge of the Catholic Child Welfare Council
and thus bypassing the proper procedures for obtaining approval before a child
The UK Health Committee had
also noted that:
A recurrent feature of child migration schemes seems to have
been lack of effective monitoring of the children’s welfare by either the
British Government or the sending agencies. The post-War schemes, particularly
to Australia were excessively permissive.
While guardianship may have
been delegated to the State departments, the Commonwealth Minister’s ultimate
responsibility was clearly acknowledged by the then Minister for Immigration,
Mr AR Downer, in June 1958. This related to the incident of ‘serious sexual
malpractices’ between ‘certain staff and boys’ at Barnardos, Picton, referred
to earlier in the chapter. Mr Downer wrote to the Manager of Barnardos in NSW:
The law will take its course in this matter, but, as legal
guardian of the children, I must be personally concerned in seeing that they
are adequately protected from all influences disastrous to their character.
The Western Australian
Department submitted that:
It is difficult to clearly determine the roles and
responsibilities of the British, Australian and State governments, together
with the sending and receiving agencies.
The Committee has received
considerable documentary evidence from archival records, in addition to the
anecdotal evidence of the former child migrants, clearly demonstrating a
failure in their duty of care by those involved at all levels with the child
migration schemes. The inadequate levels of monitoring and buck-passing of
responsibilities appeared endemic at all levels.
Dr Marion Fox, in her study of
British child migrants in NSW Catholic orphanages, has noted that multiple
administrations in Australia and Britain led to communication problems with
orphanage authorities often failing to report children’s transfers, even those
requiring change of guardianship between Ministers in different States. Dr Fox
further pointed out:
to the Catholic Family Welfare Bureau, has acknowledged the lack of
coordination between Australian and British Church officials, their poor
administration, and the bypassing of formal procedures by Federal Catholic
Immigration Committee personnel. Moreover, no Catholic agency independent of
the religious Orders which conducted orphanages monitored their conditions.
Dr Fox’s study did record that
some positive actions were taken, finding that in 1952 Child Welfare officials
withheld approval for several orphanages as suitable for child migrants for a
number of reasons and stated that they believed ‘that their British
counterparts would consider some girls to be overworked and exploited’.
The Catholic Church’s Joint
Liaison Group on Child Migration (Joint Liaison Group), after noting the
British and Australian governments’ involvement in authorising and regulating
arrangements for child migration, the State governments’ responsibility for the
legal guardianship of the children and the mandated supervisory responsibility
to the institutions in which the children were cared, concluded:
It therefore seems axiomatic that responsibility for child
migration was a shared one. Hence we firmly contend the task of responding to
the consequences of child migration is also to be shared among all
participants: the British Government, the Australian Federal and State
governments and the sending and receiving agencies.
The Committee concurs with this
conclusion, which was also reflected in the conclusion of the UK Health
We regard the circumstances now faced by many former child
migrants as the collective responsibility of all the governments and agencies
involved in the schemes.
In addition the UK Committee
thought it ‘incumbent on the British Government to accept additional moral
responsibility for what happened since it passed the enabling legislation’.
They further concluded:
We consider that the present British Government should accept
responsibility for its predecessors’ past involvement, in collaboration with
other parties, in child migration. Given this involvement, we believe that the
Government is under a moral and legal duty to display concern for the welfare
of former child migrants and to offer them meaningful practical assistance.
This will lead the way to a just conclusion to a sorry episode in British
The Committee is of the view
that the same argument applies equally to the Australian government. The
Federal government of the day was responsible for the post World War II scheme
and accepting children for migration through its officials at Australia House.
Documents show that, irrespective of the delegation of guardianship to State
welfare bodies, the federal government remained involved in the welfare of
children to the extent that in 1958 the then Immigration Minister effectively
acknowledged that ultimate responsibility resided with the federal Minister.
Western Australia - Christian
Brothers and the Catholic Church
The operation in Western
Australia of the indentures made between the State Welfare department and
voluntary organisations whereby the organisations would bear responsibility for
the care and welfare of children placed in their care, albeit with the Welfare
department having an inspectorial role, is discussed in chapter 2.
While this inquiry is concerned
with the impact of the migration schemes on all child migrants in all
institutions in Australia, the four Christian Brothers institutions in Western
Australia stand out as the most culpable in their duty of care in relation to
the physical and sexual violence that occurred within them. The evidence of
numerous child migrants placed under the care of the Christian Brothers
constantly referred to one central figure, Brother Keaney. The Committee is
wary of singling out one individual, however, it feels obligated to make
reference to Brother Keaney.
Brother Francis Paul Keaney was
born in Ireland in 1888, emigrated to Australia in 1912 and joined the
Christian Brothers in 1916. By 1919 he was a junior staff member at Clontarf.
He served a number of terms as principal including at Clontarf 1936-41 and at
Bindoon 1942-44 and 1948-54. Brother Keaney is portrayed as possessing a
strong, domineering personality, yet capable of being exceptionally charming to
Brother Keaney’s domination and
control at Bindoon involved practices that alienated the Catholic hierarchy. Dr
Coldrey wrote in The Scheme that the
Provincial Council were tired of Brother Keaney’s ‘persistent tendency to
disregard their directions; only his popularity with the W.A. public kept him
in office’. Reports and memos from
Commonwealth and Western Australian archival sources show a continuing
disregard at meeting Welfare requirements in caring not just for child migrants
but other children in his institution.
The extensive construction work
undertaken at Bindoon led to the moniker ‘Keaney the Builder’ of which he was
apparently quite proud. However, there was a much darker side to the building
program in terms of human involvement. Brother Keaney’s approach to the
building program was described by Dr Coldrey:
Of course, to Keaney, the building program was their education, for those boys over the primary school
age...from being a necessity and a work experience programme the buildings became
This obsession resulted in the boys being relentlessly
driven with a lack of protective clothing and footwear (as noted earlier) in an
unsafe working environment of primitive and inadequate equipment and
scaffolding where the risk of accident was not just considerable but a reality.
Mr Alan Gill wrote in Orphans of the Empire that ‘many were
injured; [he] was given the names of two who received spinal injuries, two who
suffered broken limbs and another who suffered serious head injuries. All are
now invalid pensioners.’ The Committee also received evidence from child
migrants of injuries resulting from accidents due primarily to unsafe working
conditions and physical exhaustion. 
However, it is for the
allegations of physical assault and sexual abuse that Brother Keaney has been
condemned. As early as 1940 the Child Welfare department conducted an inquiry
into allegations that Keaney was over-punishing boys at Clontarf, though there
had been isolated complaints in the department’s files before this major
investigation. Yet the claims of Brother Keaney’s involvement in brutal
physical assault and sexual abuse continued at Bindoon through the late 1940s
and early 1950s to such an extent that he has been referred to as ‘totally
Mr Gill has argued that ‘claims
of physical abuse perpetrated by Keaney are so numerous that, even if only ten
per cent were true, he would be quite unfit for any form of contact with
A statue erected at Bindoon of
Brother Keaney created considerable controversy and was subsequently removed
due primarily to pressure from former child migrants.
Brother Keaney received an OBE
- Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire - in 1953. The
citation read in part ‘in recognition of distinguished services rendered in the
interests of school boys and youths including migrant boys...Brother Paul,
assisted by no more than two expert tradesmen and the Bindoon boys, has been
personally responsible for the construction of the administrative, educational,
dormitory and refectory blocks’.
The Committee considers that in
the knowledge that has now come to light of Brother Keaney being a particularly
brutal person in his treatment of boys under his care and that in relation to
his building program, young children were exploited and subjected to
unnecessary risk of accident due to unsafe work equipment and practices, the
OBE should be cancelled and his appointment annulled.
Recommendation 4: That in accordance with
the Statutes of the Most Excellent Order
of the British Empire, the Commonwealth Government initiate the process for
Francis Paul Keaney’s membership of the Most Excellent Order of the British
Empire to be cancelled and annulled.
The Catholic Church
Child sexual abuse and assault
within the Catholic Church is not something that can be readily swept under the
carpet, although this appears to have been what was attempted in the cases
involving child migrants. The Catholic Church has an unenviable reputation of
attempting to suppress and avoid liability in cases of abuse. When legal action
has been taken, if it is unavoidable they have settled out of court.
Historically, the church has
been in denial rather than confronting the reality of abuse. The Committee
received information from Broken Rites, and is aware of other documents, that
catalogue the number of Catholic and non-Catholic priests, educators, child
care workers and others from a variety of orders who have been tried and found
guilty of sex crimes against children.
The Committee discussed with Dr Coldrey and the Joint Liaison Group recent
research by Richard Sipe an ex-Benedictine monk who has investigated the extent
of sexual abuse and sexual problems in the Church in the United States.
The Joint Liaison Group advised
that the Catholic Church in Australia has produced a document Towards Healing outlining principles and
procedures to be followed in responding to complaints of abuse against personnel
of the Catholic Church of Australia, including sexual, physical and emotional
In April 2001 a report by Lord
Nolan on sexual abuse in the Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales was
published. This report followed widespread allegations of wrongdoing by the
clergy, belated accusations by victims, evidence of cover-up and the conviction
of 21 priests for offences against children in four years. The Nolan Committee
made sweeping recommendations largely in line with guidelines adopted for others
in regular contact with children - teachers, youth workers and sports
The Times noted that the Church ‘had
already committed itself to accepting and implementing the advice it was
given’, following ‘years of denial and misguided attempts to conceal
embarrassing incidents’. The paper commented:
Society now takes an uncompromising line over the lasting damage
done by child abuse; where this occurs in a situation in which intimacy, trust
and vulnerability are integral to the priestly calling the revulsion is the
more profound and the damage greater...only the most rigorous steps and penitent
acknowledgment of past evil can lift this shadow from the priesthood.
Queensland - Neerkol
The Forde Commission reported
on the role and responsibility of the State Children’s Department in relation
Under the Queensland State Children Acts 1911 the Director of
the State Children’s Department (and its various departmental successors)
became guardian of State children or as they later were, children under Care
and Protection. The Director also became guardian of the British migrant
children as a result of the delegation by the Commonwealth Minister of
Immigration of his powers and functions as guardian under Section 6 of the Immigration (Guardianship of Children) Act
1946. Custodianship of those children, however, was given to the Bishop of
Rockhampton by a delegation under Section 7 of the same Act, in contrast to the
position of State children for whose custody the superintendent of the
institution in which they were placed was responsible.
Section 49(1) of the State
Children Acts required all State children to receive a minimum of one visit
every three months from an officer of the Department to ascertain whether any
apprenticeship or work agreements in respect of them had been fulfilled and
that their ‘treatment, education and care’ was satisfactory. The regulations
required inspections of receiving institution at least once per month. However,
while a State Children’s inspector (later District Officer) was stationed at
Rockhampton, few former Neerkol residents recalled having been spoken to by an
inspector and it appeared that inspectors visits to the Home were usually
anticipated, and preparations were made by way of extensive cleaning and
improving of the Home’s appearance.
Similar comments were repeated
to the Committee in the submissions and evidence of former Neerkol residents
and indeed in relation to many other institutions throughout Australia.
The Forde Commission concluded
that there was seemingly no real interest on the part of the Departmental
inspectors in exploring the conditions in which children in the Home were
living. Rather, in a context where the orphanage was underfunded and
understaffed, the attitude was that the nuns deserved congratulation for their
difficult work, and ought not to be challenged in any way.
On the other hand, the fact
that the ratio of staff to children at Neerkol was grossly inadequate must have
been apparent to those in charge of the Department. For example, during the
1950s, between 10 and 15 nuns cared for between 300 and 400 children at the
Orphanage. External help was seldom engaged, except in the form of farm labour.
Enquiry would have revealed, for instance, that in the nursery, a single nun
with only the help of two fourteen-year-olds was looking after 25 to 30 babies
and toddlers. Notwithstanding, the Department continued to place children at
Neerkol, without regard to its capacity to provide proper care for the numbers
it was receiving. The Department must also be said to have failed in its
obligations to the children at Neerkol in its failure to make any attempt at
maintaining family relationships.
The Forde Commission considered
that while it did not appear that the staff of the State Children’s Department
in its office in Rockhampton had any training in their role, and it was clear
that they were considerably overworked, it was unfair to criticise their
performance as individuals. What could be justly criticised was the failure of
the Department to ensure that staff with training in child care and protection
were employed in its Rockhampton office, with appropriately qualified staff not
arriving until the late 1970s. This fact represented an indifference to the
Department’s obligations to regional children, manifested over decades.
The consequence of that indifference was that no attention was
given to the needs of individual children; no sufficient scrutiny of the
circumstances in which the children were kept took place; and no opportunity
was given for children’s complaints to be heard. Worse, the evidence was that
when some children did attempt to complain of abuse to departmental officers
the response was disbelief and anger; and in some instances the complaint was
relayed to the nuns, resulting in further reprisal. The State failed in its
care of the children of which it was, through the Director of the Department,
Former Neerkol girls at the
The Committee was informed that
in relation to the child migration scheme after World War II a formal process
of devolution of responsibility for child migrants occurred with the Federal
Minister delegating guardianship to the States, who in turn indentured the
religious orders and other agencies to provide custodial duties. To monitor the
migrant child’s welfare and ensure that the institutions provided a
satisfactory caring environment, a series of inspectorial regimes were included
within the devolved responsibilities.
Accounts by child migrants of
visits and inspections that were undertaken are quite varied, with a general
view that such visits were carefully staged managed and the children were not
allowed to talk one-on-one with visiting welfare officers.
The Committee has seen a
selection of inspection reports from various national, State and agency
archives about different institutions around Australia. However, while some
examples of inspection reports provide a generally good impression, the
Committee believes that the level of information contained is rudimentary and
generally many of these documents are superficial in character. The Committee
considers that in many instances, based on the documentary evidence available
to it, the level of inspections undertaken and the consideration of the welfare
of the children in the institution appear to have been at best basic and often
The Committee considers that
duty of care has been lacking in two fundamental areas in relation to child
migrants and the migration schemes.
Firstly, the implementation of
schemes providing for the removal of children from their home countries and
families to be sent thousands of miles around the world, resulting in the
destruction of identity and sense of belonging.
Secondly, not just that
horrendous levels of physical, sexual and emotional abuse and assault was
allowed to occur, allegedly undetected, while the migrant children were in
care, but also that such abuse was able to continue unchecked over so many
The Committee concludes that
these failures of duty of care and the unfortunate circumstances in which many
former child migrants now find themselves is a shared responsibility between
the British, Australian and Australian State governments, and the sending and
receiving agencies. All have played a part in the tragic outcomes of these
possibly well-meaning, but ultimately fundamentally flawed, schemes. However,
the individual responsibility of those who were actually in charge of the
children must never be understated.
The Committee believes that the
responsibility for responding to the consequences of the schemes for the former
child migrants and their families must also be shared among all participants.
Some governments and agencies have already committed themselves to the
provision of services and assistance. It has not been enough. The remainder of
this report addresses areas in which the Committee believes further action is
Measures of reparation
Part (e) of the Committee’s
terms of reference require the Committee to examine ‘measures of reparation
including, but not limited to, compensation and rehabilitation by the
In the preceding chapters, the
Committee has identified the main abuses suffered by many former child
migrants. Former child migrants argued that reparation should be made for:
physical, sexual and emotional abuse;
loss of family and identity;
loss of opportunity through the lack of
loss of wages and trust monies; and
denial of access to documents.
The Committee considers that
former child migrants deserve recognition for these abuses that they endured
and the life-long affects of those abuses. In the next section the Committee
considers how former child migrants can be provided with the means to overcome
these past traumas with assistance to live a more fulfilling life.
Providing measures of reparation
There was much discussion in
evidence on the means by which reparation for these wrongs could be made. A
variety of mechanisms were canvassed and ranged from the provision of services to
monetary compensation. Some former child migrants stated that no amount of
monetary compensation could give them back their lost childhoods and families,
but ‘we cannot turn the clock back - as much as we would all wish, this cannot
happen. However, these sentiments, while true, should not be used as an excuse
to avoid the just payment of compensation’.
Many former child migrants
supported the provision of services which they saw as a tangible measure to
improve their lives:
it is the measures put in place by Government to help and assist
those in need that most positively contributes to our recovery from the trauma
of a shameful and appalling part of our history.
compensation can come in different forms but the most important
thing in my life now is to know who I am, where I came from and who I should
International Social Service
(ISS) indicated that for some child migrants, services, in particular travel,
‘would be likely to ease their sense of injustice, and assist them to proceed
towards further self-healing’. ISS also indicated that while it was not clear
from its contact with former child migrants what measure of reparation would be
most acceptable it had received requests for payment for a funeral, travel to
visit graves and support to visit cousins or nieces and nephews. The Child Migrant Friendship Society
(CMFS) also pointed to the provision of services as a means of reparation for
former child migrants and suggested that a funeral fund be established and
retirement and aged care be provided, and provision for a permanent tribute to
child migrants be made.
Other witnesses spoke about
British and Australian governments should set up a fund in order
to compensate people who feel that a financial benefit would alleviate their
grievances. The sum of money would depend on the situation that the person is
in. Some people would not want any money at all.
I do not believe there is enough money to compensate me for what
I have been through, but at least an attempt should be made.
Another former child migrant stated that substantial
monetary compensation should be paid and that anything under $20,000 would be
The International Association
argued that large numbers of child migrants have suffered and many are under
financial stress keeping contact with their families when they are reunited, ‘a
lump sum compensation payment would go a long way in alleviating this stress.
It would give former child migrants the opportunity to have a more peaceful and
positive future with their families’.
The establishment of a tribunal
to investigate claims for compensation was supported by both the International
Association and the Child Migrants Trust. Some former child migrants also
supported this idea with one arguing that ‘a tribunal should be established for
those who can demonstrate hardship and loss through their migration
experience’. While another former
child migrant stated that compensation should be ‘not just for myself but for
my kids and for my family in England who have suffered so needlessly because of
Government policies like Child Migration’.
During the inquiry, receiving
agencies and Government also put their views on reparation and compensation.
The Fairbridge Foundation stated that it did not believe that any reparation or
monetary compensation in any form should be paid to former child migrants.
Instead, counsellors or advisers should be available for those in need to
direct and follow up on their specific needs.
Barnardos stated that all children,
child migrants or not, deserve proper restitution where they are the victims of
abuse. Barnardos suggested that in New South Wales the Victims Compensation
Board could be widened to include all children who had been victims of abuse
including this form of ‘systems abuse’.
The Joint Liaison Group
indicated that it considered that any genuine apology implies ‘measures of
reparation’ and that the Catholic Church’s response to the needs of former
child migrants comprises ‘measures of reparation’. Catholic religious orders
have, to date, funded services including counselling (about $1 million), access
to information (about $70,000), services through the Child Migrant Centre in
Perth (about $105,000), tracing services in Britain (50,000) and travel to Britain
for former child migrants (over $1 million).
The provision of these services are discussed at length in later chapters.
The Joint Liaison Group stated
that monetary compensation corresponding to degrees of suffering or hardship
‘is difficult to support’ because it was not clear if the majority of former
child migrants were interested in compensation, rather they needed information,
access to family tracing and counselling. They argued that ‘trying to quantify
people’s suffering and hardship, or finding ways to allocate a sum of money as
compensation is unwieldy, potentially divisive and largely arbitrary’. Any
further financial resources available, particularly from governments, ought to
go into services and into needs-based ‘rehabilitation’ including therapy,
medical treatment, and education services.
In Western Australia reparation
measures undertaken by government have included the apology made by the
Legislative Assembly in October 1998 and initiatives including the
establishment of the Former Child Migrant Referral Index, funding for the
provision of counselling services, assistance to access information and trace
families, and support for the Child Migrants Trust.
The Queensland Government
stated that in response to the Forde inquiry’s recommendations on compensation
and reparation, it had contributed $1 million to the establishment of the Forde
Foundation. The Foundation is to provide financial assistance for the purchase
of goods and services that aid in self development and the improvement of quality
of life for children who had been in residential care in Queensland, including
former child migrants. For matters of individual compensation, the Government
stated that it has encouraged former residents to pursue these through normal
The Commonwealth Government’s
position on compensation was stated in its response to the British Government
response to the House of Commons Health Committee report: that matters of
support and practical help with tracing family members is of greater significance
to child migrants than compensation. This position was further developed by the
Department of Immigration and Multicultural Affairs which stated that the
Commonwealth Government’s general approach is that this type of response, that
is offering support services to those who need them, is the most appropriate
‘measure of reparation’. Further that :
The Commonwealth Government’s general policy on compensation is
that it makes payments only where it has a legal obligation to do so, or in
limited, exceptional circumstances, which it is considered do not apply here.
This has been a longstanding position of successive governments.
The Government does not believe that blanket compensation is
either appropriate or even possible, given that the circumstances of each case
vary. Where consideration is given to issues of compensation, relevant past
standards and practices would also need to be acknowledged in that
Commonwealth Governments have
provided funding of over $800,000 to the Child Migrants Trust since 1990 for
specialised counselling and tracing services. The National Archives of
Australia also provides access to records of interest to former child migrants.
The Department also commented
on the possible establishment of a tribunal to provide compensation for lost
wages. The Department stated that ‘if it were a matter of federal jurisdiction,
you cannot establish a tribunal that is exercising judicial powers other than a
court...You would have to look at the nature of the powers that you wanted the
tribunal to exercise, and such like, to determine whether or not it were
something that would have to be adjudicated in a court or whether it is
something that could be adjudicated in a tribunal.’
Funding measures of reparation
Many witnesses expressed strong
feelings about who should fund measures of reparation with most considering
that both government and church and charitable organisations should provide
‘I think the Australian Government should
compensate [my brother] Michael and others like him for the consequences of its
failure to protect him and provide a proper education’.
‘the church should acknowledge its contribution
to the human suffering of former child migrants. It should provide substantial
compensation to help fund the appropriate level of services to realistically
meet their needs’.
The International Association
of Former Child Migrants & their Families noted that one of the largest
sending agencies was Fairbridge, but it ‘offered nothing to former child
migrants - no funding of services. The International Association respects the
decision by the Fairbridge Board to avoid any involvement in professional
services - but that does not absolve them of their responsibility to provide
resources to deal with the tragedy and loss they played a part in.’
Broken Rites suggested that, in
relation to unpaid wages from which church organisations profited, ‘an
Australian Government, through the Department of Foreign Affairs...must pursue
this case on behalf of child migrants with the Vatican’.
The Committee concurs with the
view that responsibility for the child migrant schemes and for the care and
supervision of children is shared. As already discussed earlier, the British,
Australian and Australian State Governments, and the sending and receiving
agencies all have played a part in the tragic outcomes of these possibly
well-meaning, but ultimately fundamentally flawed, schemes.
The Committee believes that the
responsibility for responding to the consequences of the schemes for the former
child migrants and their families must also be shared among all participants.
Unfortunately while Government and some sending and receiving agencies have
recognised their responsibility and are already providing services to former
child migrants, others are yet to respond or to respond adequately. Some
organisations told the Committee the provision of more extensive services were
beyond their financial means.
The Committee discusses the
services already provided by agencies in later chapters. However, the services
provided by the Fairbridge Foundation in New South Wales and Fairbridge WA Inc
are limited mainly to the access to records. Fairbridge WA Inc. also manages a
grant/loan fund for educational, medical and domestic needs for former child
migrants. The fund stood at $40,000 in February 2001. This was set up as a
‘parting gesture’ when the Fairbridge Society ceased its activities at Pinjarra
in the early 1980s. According to
the Western Australian Select Committee into Child Migration, the farm property
at Pinjarra was sold on 2 March 1983 to Alcoa for $US2,016,000 with Alcoa
agreeing to lease the village to Fairbridge for a nominal rent. A deed of
transfer was effected between Fairbridge UK and the Perth Board of Fairbridge
WA and Fairbridge WA Inc in October 1984. Endowments were agreed to for
Fairbridge WA Inc.
The Select Committee estimated
that ‘together with the sale of the Mandurah land and the farm clearance sale,
a sum in excess of $3 million was realised, indicating that over $2.7 million’
went to Britain. Professor Sherington stated that the proceeds of the sale were
repatriated to Britain in accordance with the 1948 Fairbridge Farm School Act. However, the Select Committee stated
it was not clear, despite the Act, ‘if the property could be properly sold by
the UK section of Fairbridge and the proceeds used in the United Kingdom’.
The Select Committee also
suggested the possibility that the proceeds of the sale should have gone to the
same society with the same objects that sold the farm. ‘But in fact went to an
entirely different body, similar only in name and to be used for different
purposes than that for which the money was originally obtained’ as the
currently existing Fairbridge UK did not change its objects until 24 March
The Fairbridge Farm School at
Molong closed in 1973. The property was sold and the Fairbridge Foundation was
set up to administer the funds from the sale and from investments held by the
Farm School at that time. The Memorandum and Articles of Association of the Fairbridge
Foundation provide for the organisation to distribute each year, by way of
donations, the money accumulated to charitable organisations within New South
Wales which have their sole or primary aim, the care and well-being of
underprivileged children. In the
mid 1970s, the Northcote Trustees sold part of the farm school site at Bacchus
Marsh in Victoria and gifted the village to the Victorian Government.
The Committee was also provided
with evidence that assets controlled by other Church organisations including
the Catholic and Anglican churches were built through the efforts of former
child migrants and Australian-born children in their care. These have been sold
for substantial sums of money or are still retained for the benefit of the
There are many practical
difficulties in establishing a tribunal. Tribunals often result in complex and
expensive legal proceedings which would only add to the distress of many former
child migrants. The Committee does not support the establishment of a tribunal
to award compensation. The Committee considers that those former child migrants
who wish to pursue monetary compensation for injury should have the opportunity
to do so through the courts. This is discussed later in the report.
The Committee considers that
the most appropriate means of compensating former child migrants for their
experiences in institutions in Australia and for the loss of their families and
homeland is through the provision of services. Such services should be open to
all former child migrants and would provide real benefits to many people. They
can be tailored to suit individual needs and can be provided in a
straightforward way. For many former child migrants such services are essential
to their recovery from past trauma and for their future well-being.
The Committee acknowledges that
Government and some receiving and sending organisations are already providing a
range of services for former child migrants. These services have provided a
great deal of benefit for former child migrants. However, the Committee
considers that more still needs to be done, particularly to assist former child
migrants to trace their families, to travel to the United Kingdom to reconnect
with those families and in the provision of counselling services. The services
already provided and the improvements to the services still required are
discussed in the following chapters.
Further, the Committee
considers that funding of the services it has recommended should not be left
solely to Government. The Committee acknowledges that some religious orders and
sending and receiving agencies have provided substantial funding for services.
However, there are other agencies which have been less than forthcoming with
funding and the provision of services. The Committee is not persuaded by
arguments that they do not have the means to provide additional funding.
Evidence is available that assets have been sold for substantial amounts and
funds transferred overseas in some cases.
All parties involved in the
child migration schemes bear responsibility. They now have to ensure that
reparation is made to former child migrants through the funding and provision
of services. They have not only a moral obligation but also a direct
Child Migrants Trust and other support groups
Submissions and witnesses
pointed to the valuable support services provided by the Child Migrants Trust
and the funding needed for it to continue this work, and the services and
assistance provided by other groups which support child migrants.
The Child Migrants Trust
The Child Migrants Trust is
based in the UK. It was established in 1987 as an independent social work
agency working with former child migrants. It has developed considerable
knowledge and expertise in the areas of childhood abuse and its impact on
children, on adult lives and relationships and subsequent generations.
The Trust’s work in Australia
In Australia, at the present
time, the Trust has offices in Perth and Melbourne. It has one director, one
senior social worker, two social workers (one in Perth and one in Melbourne),
an administrative officer in Melbourne and a part-time administrator in Perth.
In Britain the Trust employs a family researcher, a project evaluator and two
full-time social workers and two administrative officers.
In evidence the Trust noted
that the caseloads of each of its social workers in Perth and Melbourne was in
excess of 300 clients. Trust records sighted by the Committee indicate that it
has some 700 active clients across Australia. However, there were still areas
in Australia where it had large numbers of clients and did not have a permanent
presence. For example, the Trust stated that in Queensland there are more than
100 clients and there was quite a long waiting list for services. There was also unmet demand in
Sydney and the Trust indicated that it was committed to developing its service
in both Sydney and Brisbane.
The restriction to two offices
in Australia with one social worker each, not only limited the Trust in the
services it provided, but also created administrative problems such as leave
coverage and restricted flexibility of services provided to clients. The Trust
indicated that it only occasionally used outside counsellors for specific
situations. The Trust stated that its preferred option was to have four offices
in Australia with two social workers each and appropriate support staff. The
Trust would also like to have sufficient travel funds so that visits to
regional centres could be made on predictable regular basis ‘that would allow
us to work in with other agencies in those centres as well’. These centres
included Rockhampton, Townsville and Geraldton. There was also a need to
continue visits to Tasmania.
The Trust indicated that at the
present time, that funds transferred from the UK to Australia funded visits to
regional areas of Australia. As the UK Government does not allow the transfer
to Australia of money that they provide for services in the UK, the money
transferred had to come from individual charitable donations.
The Trust also indicated that
it provided services for Maltese former child migrants. This group of former
child migrants had additional needs relating to specific cultural family
background issues, reunion travel and the impact of childhood trauma.
Funding of the Trust
From 1990 the Commonwealth
Government has provided funds to the Trust in Australia. These funds are
provided through the Community Settlement Services Scheme (CSSS) formerly known
as the Grant-in-Aid Scheme administered by the Department of Immigration and
Multicultural Affairs. The Department noted that the priority for CSSS grants
is to fund community organisations to deliver settlement assistance to
refugees, humanitarian entrants and migrants.
CSSS funding has been provided
to the Trust every year since 1990. The funding allocated to April 2001 was
$1,017,223 with the actual funds paid being $828,565. The Department noted that
the difference between the allocation and funding was due to:
1990-98: past funding formula under which payments
were only made for the number of days a funded position was occupied;
1999-present: payments are made against Work
Plans and Milestones, with performance criteria. This sometimes leads to
payments below the Service Agreement grant value being made.
The grants have subsidised the
Trust to provide the following services to former child migrants in Australia:
retrieval of personal information and family
support for reunification with families; and
Funding has been provided for
the Trust’s Melbourne office since 1990 and for the Perth office for the period
between 1995-96 and 1999-2000. Funding for the current national grant of
$120,000 has been provided for:
the continuation of some casework;
development of strategies to improve former
British child migrants’ access to mainstream services; and
improving the capacity of relevant mainstream
services to respond appropriately to the needs of this particular segment of
The Western Australian Government
supports the Trust by the provision of subsidised travel, accommodation and
office costs; office equipment and funding grants totalling $106,100 and an
annual funding grant of $64,000.
The Western Australian Lotteries Commission has also provided grants totalling
$51,000 to the Trust.
The South Australian
Government, in 2001, provided a grant of $30,000 over three years to the Trust
to extend its work in South Australia. The grant will provide funding for three
or four visits a year to South Australia.
The Trust indicated that it had
been unable to access funding in Queensland through the Forde Foundation for
establishment of an office in Brisbane.
The Trust also receives funding
from the British Government. In 1999, the British Government increased funding
for the Trust to 500,000 over three years for tracing and counselling. As
already noted, this money cannot be applied to services in Australia.
Nottinghamshire County Council
has also provided the Trust with funding of over 560,000 over 14 years, and
was a prime source of funds for the original establishment for the work of the
The Trust recommended to the
Committee that it ‘needs a secure and moderately substantial funding base in
Australia to enable the agency to develop and complete its specialist
humanitarian family reunion service’.
The Trust also provided the Committee with an outline of why continued funding
was of importance:
that it is for family reunifications and alongside that the
counselling that is required to go with that. It is not just about finding
families; it is about how we bring those families together and what is needed
to do that to bring about good family relationships that are going to be
meaningful and go on and develop. It is about finding families, reunification
and the vital skilled counselling work that needs to go on both, not just at
this end, but in the UK as well primarily.
The Trust indicated to the
Committee that it had concerns for its continued funding under the CSSS
arrangements and constantly having to reapply for funds.
The Child Migrants Trust at the Canberra hearing
The Department stated, in
relation to funding issues, that the grant provided to the Trust funds some
casework, ‘while at the same time encouraging the Trust to develop strategies to
improve former child migrants’ access to mainstream services as well as to
improve the capacity of mainstream service providers to respond appropriately
to the needs of former child migrants’. The Department concluded that if this
occurred, then more former child migrants will be assisted throughout Australia
because mainstream services will be better equipped to assist them. Other
organisations receiving CSSS grants were adopting a similar approach. The
objective, stated the Department, ‘is to focus limited resources on working
with mainstream service providers to help them respond more effectively to the
needs of diverse clientele’.
Other witnesses also expressed
concern about the level of funding for the Trust. The International Association
recommended a Federal/State funding package for a four-year period with
built-in review and evaluation. The Association indicated that there needed to
be security of funding.
C-BERS and other Church services
The Christian Brothers
Ex-Residents and Students Services (C-BERS) was established in early 1995 in
Subiaco, Western Australia. It replaced the previous interim Helpline and
Advisory Panel which had been established in 1993 to investigate the needs of
former child migrants who had been residents in Christian Brother’s child care
C-BERS provides services to men
and their families from all over Australia. Its counselling services have
recently been extended to females cared for by the Sisters of Mercy. The
Congregation of Christian Brothers funds C-BERS. From 1995 to 2000 it received
$1,334,961 from the Christian Brothers. It receives no financial support from
Since its establishment, C-BERS
has provided overseas reunion travel to 237 ex-residents and carers and 7 trips
within Australia. These trips are arranged through C-BERS or the Child Migrants
Trust but are wholly funded by C-BERS. Travel is not means tested, nor is it
dependent on men finding family in the country of origin. In addition, C-BERS
provides counselling services, both in Perth and throughout Australia.
The Sisters of Mercy and the
Poor Sisters of Nazareth have also provided funding of over $100,000 for travel
The Joint Liaison Group added
that the Christian Brothers, Sisters of Mercy and Poor Sisters of Nazareth have
contributed approximately $105,000 to maintain the services for former child
migrants at the Catholic Migrant Centre (CMC) in Perth. The operations of the
Centre have also been part funded through the Department of Immigration and Multicultural
Affair’s Community Grants Program since CMC’s establishment in 1985. The Centre
assists former child migrants locate family and relatives.
Counselling for former child
migrants is provided through functionally independent agencies, for example C-BERS,
and is also occasionally provided though the Catholic Church’s Centacare
network or via a referral to another counsellor acceptable to the former child
The Joint Liaison Group noted
that these Church organisations and agencies have not been able to access
Commonwealth or State Government funding to support their activities or
initiatives. The Liaison Group went on to state:
The resourcing of such initiatives by the Catholic agencies
involved is just and appropriate. What is not appropriate or just is the
absence of any government involvement in such services and the inherent
unfairness of functionally independent agencies being discriminated against in
accessing funding for their specific programmes as compared with the Child
evidence, it was also added that ‘freedom of choice in where child migrants are
able to access services is important’.
International Association of Former
Child Migrants and Their Families
Former child migrants and their
families and partners in Britain or country of residence, and former child
migrants’ children, grandchildren and partners may apply for full membership of
the International Association of Former Child Migrants and Their Families.
Persons who support the aims and objectives of the Association are welcome to
apply for associate membership.
The main aims and objectives of
the International Association are:
to express and promote the common interests of
former child migrants world-wide;
to educate and raise issues relating to the
needs of former child migrants and their families with governments, state
agencies and non-governmental agencies;
to raise funds to assist former child migrants
in necessitous circumstances and who satisfy criteria established by the Child
Migrants Trust to be reunited with their families; to finance issues of
importance for former child migrants and their families; to make donations to
the Child Migrants Trust;
to convene international conferences in
conjunction with the Child Migrants Trust, and to arrange and provide for or
join in arranging and providing for the holding of exhibitions, congresses,
meetings, lectures and seminars;
to establish and distribute twice yearly (when
circumstances permit) International Focus,
to keep members informed on developments and issues pertaining to former child
migrants and their families world wide;
to accept gifts and borrow or raise money for
the purposes of the Association on such terms or such security as shall be
thought fit, and to procure contributions to the Association by personal or
written appeals, public meetings, etc; and undertake fundraising activities and
seek appropriate grants.
Child Migrant Friendship Society of
The Child Migrant Friendship
Society of Western Australia was established in 1982 by a group of former child
migrants in Western Australia to provide an infrastructure of mutual support to
former child migrants. The Society was legally constituted as an incorporated
body in 1988 with the aim of providing help and relief from suffering,
helplessness, distress, misfortune, poverty, destitution and emotional
disturbance to child migrants, and also by assisting them wherever and whenever
possible. A further object of the Society is to direct child migrants or their
families to qualified counsellors.
In coming to conclusions about
the funding requirements of the Child Migrants Trust, the Committee is mindful
of four significant underlying factors: child migrants have suffered long term
trauma and have very specialised needs; child migrants are ageing and their
parents, if still alive, are very old so that there is an urgent need for
tracing and reunion to be carried out expeditiously; the funding for the Child
Migrant Support Fund will cease in 2002; and the knock-on generational effects
are considerable and will continue to need attention.
The Committee considers that
the Child Migrants Trust has the support of many former child migrants. It has
a strong track record in providing services of a high quality. There were also
concerns expressed about the need for choice in service provider for former
child migrants. The Committee considers that there are other agencies which do
provide that choice.
In relation to Commonwealth
Government funding, the Committee notes that the Commonwealth has provided
funding to the Trust for the last ten years, through a specialised grant
program within the Department of Immigration and Multicultural Affairs.
However, the Trust considers that the funding has not enabled it to provide the
level of service required by former child migrants. There were also some
concerns expressed by the Trust about the continuation of funding by the
Department of Immigration and Multicultural Affairs past this year. The
Committee considers that because the Community Settlement Services Scheme aims
to provide settlement assistance programs, it may not be the most appropriate
way of funding the Trust. The Committee considers that the Commonwealth should
continue to provide funding for at least three years directed specifically to
the Trust, based on a proposed budget referring to identifiable need and with
appropriate accountability mechanisms.
In relation to funding by State
Governments, the Committee notes that only the Western Australian State
Government provides significant funding for the Trust. South Australia provides
some limited funding for the Trust to visit Adelaide to provide services. Other
States do not fund the Trust, although New South Wales has recently announced
funding of $60,000 for one year to International Social Service for family
tracing and counselling services.
Recommendation 5: That the Commonwealth Government continue to
provide funding for at least three years directly to the Child Migrants Trust
to ensure that the specialised services of tracing and counselling are provided
or accessible to former child migrants living throughout Australia.