The following is an excerpt from an article in the November 16, 2009 edition of the Telegraph. I came across an AP story about all this while reading my morning paper today. The except is from an article by Bonnie Malkin in Sydney.
Kevin Rudd, the Australian prime minister, has issued an emotional apology to 7,000 British child migrants who suffered abuse and neglect in the country’s state-run orphanages and religious institutions.
Speaking to a crowd of 900 survivors of state care who had gathered in Canberra, Mr Rudd apologised for his country’s role in the migrations, which continued until the 1960s.
He also apologised to the 500,000 “Forgotten Australians” who were taken from their families and placed in care homes around the country.
Many of the children sent to Australia – predominantly from impoverished British families – were told their parents were dead, and that a better life awaited them in Australia. Their parents were given very little information about where the children were going, many didn’t know they had left the country. On arrival in Australia, the young migrants were separated from their brothers and sisters and plunged into a life of hardship and brutality.
Now adults, many suffer from health problems as a result of their time in care.
In total 150,000 British children may have been shipped abroad between 1618 – when a group was sent to the Virginia Colony – and 1967, most of them from the late 19th century onwards.
A 2001 Australian report said that between 6,000 and 30,000 children from Britain and Malta, often taken from unmarried mothers or impoverished families, were sent alone to Australia as migrants during the 20th century.