Betrayal and broken ties: British child migrants to Australia, citizenship and identity

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


    On 16 November 2009, Australia’s Prime Minister Kevin Rudd issued an apology to the thousands of former child migrants who had been sent to Australia from Britain during the twentieth century. The Prime Minister’s apology followed a series of apologies from state leaders, beginning in August 1998 with theWestern Australian Government’s apology to former British child migrants who had been victims of sexual, physical and emotional abuse while in institutions in that state. In 1999 the Queensland Government issued a formal apology to former child migrants, following the tabling in Parliament of the ‘Report of the Commission of Inquiry into Abuse of Children in Queensland Institutions’ (‘Forde Report’), which documented the litany of abuses to which children had been subjected in state run institutions.1 Between the Western Australian and Queensland apologies in the late 1990s and the national apology in 2009, South Australia, New South Wales, Victoria and Tasmania also issued formal apologies to children who had been abused while in state care. Three months after Prime Minister Rudd’s apology to former British child migrants, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown apologised to all those who had been sent to foreign shores under the child migration scheme, which had been supported and overseen by successive BritishGovernments. Prime Minister Rudd’s apology was directed towards both former British childmigrants and other children – Australian citizens – who had been removed from their families and placed in institutional care during the twentieth century, some of whom had been subjected to abuse and neglect. The latter group have become known as the ‘Forgotten Australians’. The apology referred to the ‘particular pain of children shipped to Australia as child migrants – robbed of your families, robbed of your home land, regarded not as innocent children but regarded instead as a source of child labour’. The apology to former British child migrants came twenty onemonths after PrimeMinister Rudd apologised on behalf of the nation to Indigenous children who had been taken forcibly from their families and placed in state care, in foster homes or with adopted families. These are the children now known as the ‘Stolen Generations’.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationAllegiance and Identity in a Globalised World
    Editors Fiona Jenkins, Mark Nolan, Kim Rubenstein
    Place of PublicationCambridge, United Kingdom
    PublisherCambridge University Press
    ISBN (Print)9781107074330
    Publication statusPublished - 2014


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