Select Committee on Health Minutes of Evidence


Routes to reunions

Many former Child Migrants present with complex personal difficulties stemming from their migration experience. While the majority approach the Trust to trace their families in Britain, it soon becomes apparent that their search is accompanied by a need to find ways of managing emotional stress fuelled by powerful feelings of loss and deprivation. Many urgently need to ventilate their feelings of emotional pain or to disclose episodes of sexual and physical abuse. Their migration experiences often produced a fragmented sense of identity and some have acute difficulties in maintaining close marital and parental relationships. They may also fear rejection and lack sufficient confidence to trust others as they expect to be betrayed or exploited again. Child migration was traumatic for young children. It shattered personal integration at a critical stage in their fragile development. This separation from their families and friends at a crucial time has left many emotionally defenceless and unable to withstand any further traumatic events.Skilled help is essential to tackle these issues and thus create more favourable emotional foundations for a successful reunion if and when relatives are found. The management of these complex tasks and the reunion of those separated by many decades in a distant culture, requires a specialised, professional service.

Flaws and faults

Much of the Trust's work is based on an objective and independent analysis of the flaws and faults in the various migration schemes, and the remedies required to compensate for them. This approach is refined by feedback from the Trust's client advisory groups about the type of services required. For example, little attention was paid to the personal identity and information needs of child migrants as evidenced by the failure to provide full birth certificates. There was also a lack of a full and appropriate exchange of information between agencies in Britain and institutions overseas concerning the needs, family backgrounds and circumstances of particular children. Similarly, there seems to have been an assumption that child migrants would rarely require any services or aftercare facilities as adults. Hence, citizenship issues were neglected and there was almost a total failure to predict that, as adults, this group of individuals would demand not only personal and background information about themselves but also the opportunity to meet their families in Britain.

Impartial and independent

The primary benefits of the Trust's work for former Child Migrants flow from the Trust's neutral and independent position. This has provided an essential framework for the development of specialist skills and expertise over the past 10 years. No other agency shares the Trust's specific focus and mission in working only on child migration issues with an emphasis on providing services to all former British Child Migrants, regardless of religion, nationality or migrating agency.The key features of the Trust's approach, especially its neutrality and specialist, professional nature, apply also in Britain to its work with the families of former Child Migrants. It must be remembered that when former Child Migrants in Australia, for example, engage the services of the Trust to find their families, they are making a significant personal choice not only for themselves but also for any relatives who may be found. Unfortunately, a few migrating agencies in the past led some parents to believe their children had been adopted or fostered by families, usually in Britain but occasionally abroad. This obviously creates major difficulties if the truth of the matter is that the child was sent to an institution in Australia. In a few cases, parents were even told that their infant had died and they have accepted this false explanation by the agency concerned.One former Child Migrant pleaded with the Trust to make contact with his mother who had already rejected recent approaches by the migrating agency. This mother did not feel able to cope with the memories evoked by contact with an agency inextricably linked with a particularly difficult period in her life when financial pressures prevented her from maintaining regular payments to that agency. However, she felt less guilty and agitated by these issues when relating to a worker from the Trust. She has now been successfully reunited with her son who has travelled three times from Australia to spend his holiday periods with her.In other cases, the unmarried father of a child has been a senior member of the Church. This was seen as an extra incentive to consider emigration for a particular child. Clearly, such a situation would pose serious dilemmas for those staff employed by religious agencies. Their duty to provide their clients with a full, factual explanation for their migration may conflict with their loyalty to their employers and thus compromise the healing process.

Codes of conduct

In Australia, the Trust has encountered some tensions in its relationships with certain agencies which do not subscribe to or appreciate the demands imposed by a professional code of ethics. For example, the Trust will not divulge any casework or client information without the client's consent. This refusal to disclose information to unauthorised third parties has been interpreted as "unhelpful" rather than the response of a professional social work organisation. Similarly, lawyers acting for the Christian Brothers in Western Australia being sued by former Child Migrants, issued a subpoena ordering the Trust's staff to produce confidential casework material. As a professional body, the Trust had no option but to resist this tactic and employ a barrister to argue its case in court. The surrender of files would have breached professional ethics and inevitably undermined our clients' confidence in the integrity of the Trust's work. Sadly, a significant sum from the Trust's limited funds had to be diverted to pay the legal costs of defending its professional credibility. These costs were not reimbursed when the settlement was finalised.
This lack of appreciation for a code of ethics also applies to secular migrating agencies, especially those who do not employ any professionally qualified social work staff. Some of these agencies fail to recognise the significance and impact of sensitive, personal information on clients. For example, one middle-aged former Child Migrant wrote to the Trust during 1989 after receiving her agency file in the post:"I am devastated by the information contained and finding it difficult to come to terms with the terrible treatment meted out to my mother and then to myself... I got these documents in July last year and the whole mess is breaking my heart—please help as I don't know where to turn. To add insult to injury quote 'We hope you will find this interesting rather than upsetting" was written by (agency staff) in July 1988. I am not that strong.'An anonomised copy of this letter is reproduced in Section 3.

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

A significant number of former Child Migrants remain profoundly affected by their past experiences. Many display symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, including sleep disorders, and flashbacks of traumatic events such as episodes of childhood abuse either as witnesses or victims. Their condition may not diminish with time and can often be reactivated by small, seemingly inconsequential stimuli such as a raised voice or a sudden noise. The symptoms of this condition, which may include emotional volatility or even rage, can often intrude into normal daily routines, having a devastating impact upon personal relationships or even the ability to hold down a job.Clients with these symptoms need to be helped in a safe, neutral setting where their past experiences can be understood and contained. These issues are becoming more widely understood as a result of work with hostages, survivors of disasters and soldiers suffering from shell shock. Where former Child Migrants have experienced significant abuse, whether emotional, physical or sexual, while in the care of the migrating agencies, it is a highly questionable assumption than such agencies can provide a truly therapeutic service for this group of clients.

Independence and neutrality

As a neutral agency, the Trust is particularly well placed to offer a service to former Child Migrants, untainted as it is by any involvement in the schemes or their associated scandals. Consequently, the Trust can focus firmly on the needs of its clients, many of whom still struggle to free themselves from the chains of stigma and confusion imposed by their childhood experiences. Unlike the migrating agencies, the Trust does not have to justify itself in the face of appalling disclosures of abuse by referring to the "standards of the day" or the "good intentions" behind the schemes. Unfortunately, the fear of legal action casts a shadow over certain agencies and militates against trusting, open relationships between their staff and clients.For many hundreds of Child Migrants sent to New Zealand or Zimbabwe, no records are available and no aftercare services were provided. The agencies involved in their migration ceased to exist when the schemes ended. Only the Child Migrants Trust offers a comprehensive, integrated service for this group of people.

The Trust provides an international and professional social work service from three offices. Each office, whether in England or Australia, operates from the same ethical base and promotes the same social work values. Many clients in Australia have been interviewed by professional staff from the UK office to ensure that a co-ordinated service is provided, especially for those who seek a reunion with their families in Britain. The Trust's services are viewed as an integrated portfolio designed around the specific needs of this unique client group.

The Trust only employs professionally qualified social workers with at least several years post-qualified experience to deliver its counselling services. The Trust's staff have developed skills in many key areas of work including loss and mourning; family reunion issues from the perspective of both former Child Migrants and their families; and personal identity issues, including the impact of child migration on later marital and family relationships.

Protocols and procedures

Many former Child Migrants left institutional care with no personal documentation or perhaps only a short birth certificate. The majority were not informed that a full, more detailed birth certificate could be obtained from Britain. Consequently, it is not uncommon for former Child Migrants to experience difficulties in obtaining passports, citizenship rights or pensions. Many former Child Migrants innocently assume that the absence of their parents' names on a short birth certificate is further proof that they are orphans rather than a way of disguising their true origins.
One 80 year old former Child Migrant, previously in the care of two major agencies, was never provided with a birth certificate. Given his unusual surname, it was not difficult for the Trust's researcher to obtain a full birth certificate for him. However, this showed that his assumptions about the spelling of his surname and his date of birth were both incorrect. He intends to travel to Britain later this year and needed his birth certificate in order to obtain a passport.The Trust has established protocols with most migrating agencies and Government Departments to retrieve files and documents on behalf of former Child Migrants. Very positive working relationships have been developed between the staff of the Trust and the Australian Archives Department. Thus, information from shipping lists, for example, can be given to former Child Migrants who need to confirm their date of immigration. There has been a gradual and welcome improvement in terms of opening files to former Child Migrants. However, a few agencies maintain policies and procedures which take little account of the potentially damaging impact of providing information to former Child Migrants without the option of counselling facilities being made available. One client was devastated to discover from her file that her emigration followed a breakdown in her adoption in Britain.

Citizenship and choice

The Trust has a unique role in Australia regarding citizenship issues for former Child Migrants. The Trust's advocacy has led to new regulations so that former Child Migrants sent in the post-war period no longer have to pay a fee to obtain citizenship. The Department of Immigration has established a protocol with the Trust to enable all former Child Migrants to benefit from this concession. This significant improvement in the position of former Child Migrants is appreciated especially by those who argue that neither they nor their parents had any real choice over their status as immigrants. Many former Child Migrants assumed incorrectly that having lived in Australia for over 40 years they were Australian citizens. Others were confused by complex regulations or lacked the necessary documents to confirm or alter their citizenship status. The Trust has been active in helping many former Child Migrants to clarify their status, make informed choices and implement their decisions on this important issue.

Research and records

A key dimension of the Trust's philosophy is that former Child Migrants should enjoy equality of opportunity in terms of their knowledge of both themselves and their family background. Unlike the majority of the population, who take these issues for granted, many former Child Migrants have never had a full birth certificate and do not know where they were born or even whether their parents are alive or dead. It is clearly essential that former Child Migrants have access to this type of information as soon as possible.

The Trust regards family research as both pivotal and linked to the other key components of its comprehensive service. Consequently, unlike most agencies who do not undertake such work or who sub-contract it to others, the Trust manages its own family research. The Trust has developed a wide range of contacts with central and local government departments in Britain and abroad and expertise and experience in tracing families using various methods. In addition, the Trust has microfiche records of births, deaths and marriages for England and Wales, an extensive archive of telephone records and access to the Internet.

Many enquiries require close and frequent communication between the Trust's social work staff, both in Britain and abroad, and the researchers to ensure that vital information is collected, updated and delivered to clients in a sensitive manner. While the majority of families are located in Britain, parents have also been traced after moving to Europe or the United States of America.

Reunions and family relationships

The dominant need and hope of many former Child Migrants is to meet a member of their family in Britain. To ensure that reunions serve the needs of all concerned, many hours of counselling and preparation are required. At each stage, including the initial family contact and preliminary exchange of information, all those involved will need much reassurance and expect to participate in key decisions.Clearly, returning to their home country can be an overwhelming experience for those former Child Migrants who will be meeting their families after a separation of over 40 years. The Trust's clients are usually met at Heathrow airport, often at six o'clock in the morning, by social work staff who will spend most of the next few days preparing them for a much anticipated reunion. Many clients will need close personal attention from the Trust's staff at this time, especially those who travel alone either because they are single or due to financial limitations. This level of support cannot be restricted to conventional office hours and the Trust has been fortunate in having dedicated staff who frequently work during weekends and public holidays when necessary. However, the physical and emotional demands on the Trust's staff, due to the complexity of the work and from extensive travelling, should be acknowledged.
The success of such reunions is dependent on many factors, particularly the need for adequate preparation and support to ensure that mutually realistic expectations can be negotiated, potential difficulties avoided and practical problems resolved. Strong, supportive relationships cannot be built without extensive groundwork and preparation.Frequently, former Child Migrants can only be reunited with their brothers or sisters in Britain as their parents have died. Mourning a parent after decades of separation is a complex and difficult process. Helping those involved to come to terms with their feelings of deep disappointment and despair requires much time and skill. However, the Trust has developed considerable expertise in assisting adults to grieve the loss of a parent whom they have never known. Without this help many remain fixated by their loss, unable to move forward to a position of acceptance or recovery. We have found that an involvement in some form of ritual, whether by visiting a parent's grave, attending a memorial service, or simply retracing the parent's steps from home to the corner shop, often produces a powerful and healing impact. The need for family photographs and memorabilia to assist this process is a critical part of this work. Our work in this area is both innovative and advanced and could be used to inform social work practice in other fields, particularly where children have been separated from their families or country. The Trust has been encouraged by its joint work with local Catholic priests, who have conducted special Church services for those mourning a parent in this way.

Needs and numbers

Undoubtedly, meeting relatives and discarding the role of "orphan" by becoming someone's son or daughter, someone's uncle or aunt, has produced the most profound and positive changes in both the outlook and self-image of many of the Trust's clients. Whilst the Trust has reunited hundreds of former Child Migrants with their families over the past decade, there is an urgent and immediate need to increase the number of family researchers. At present, more elderly parents will die before they can be reunited with their sons or daughters as a direct result of under-funding.Over the past decade, the Trust has supported a large number of reunions, despite its limited resources and comparatively small team of professional workers. In 1997, 74 former Child Migrants were reunited with their families. This involved work with more than 400 individual family members. Reunions were supported in England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland, Australia and the United States of America.Similarly in 1996, 58 former Child Migrants were reunited with their families by the Trust. In several cases, former Child Migrants met with more than six brothers or sisters, and each reunion required support both before and after the initial meeting. On occasions, former Child Migrants were introduced to large groups of relatives, especially in Ireland where family gatherings were arranged involving cousins, uncles and aunts.Over the years, many hundreds of former Child Migrants have met with their families, and others have been supported to revisit their birthplace or other significant areas connected with their early childhood years in Britain.

Awareness and anger

Before the Trust was established, many former Child Migrants felt they were members of a marginalised group, and resigned to poor levels of access to their files and aftercare services. Time and time again, our clients have complained that they have been writing to the agencies for information for decades, and there is clear evidence that no help was made available. Many requests were either dismissed or ignored.Public awareness and concern about the plight of Britain's former Child Migrants has developed gradually over the past decade, often as a direct result of the work of the Child Migrants Trust. Occasionally, powerful surges of attention and interest are created by stories and scandals reported in the media. Much of this interest stems from the powerful impact of the book and documentary "Lost Children of the Empire". This first major attempt by the Trust to raise the public profile of former Child Migrants in Britain and abroad was followed in 1994 by the publication of "Empty Cradles" which was launched at the House of Commons.Those working for the Trust derive a sense of achievement from helping to promote increased public awareness of the problems faced by former Child Migrants. The Trust has always tried to focus on the broad issues of child migration, rather than apportion blame to particular organisations or agencies.Since 1987, thousands of newspaper articles and scores of media programmes have featured the work of the Trust and its clients. As a result of this publicity, many more members of the public now realise that while some of the intentions of the pioneers in child migration may have been honourable, the results in human terms do not stand up to close scrutiny. Cut off from their roots, denied knowledge of their family backgrounds, shipped halfway across the world only to be abused in large institutions—this was not the fresh start that so many disadvantaged children had been promised. Fortunately, the Australian Government's ambitious hopes of importing 50,000 children in the first three post-war years were never realised. However, in too many cases the barriers of distance and deceit were irrevocably erected between former Child Migrants and their families.

Benefits and betrayal

More recently, the Western Australian Parliamentary Select Committee issued an Interim Report following a review of the past and present position of former Child Migrants in Western Australia. Despite some positive contributions in terms of promoting further understanding of many of the difficulties faced by former Child Migrants, the Committee's existence inevitably raised hopes but later failed to deliver results. The Report created much anger and disappointment by its narrow focus on only one conclusion—that the Committee's work should be expanded and extended into the following year. When this proposal was eventually rejected last year, many former Child Migrants felt betrayed as the Committee's significant investment of time, money and other resources seemed to have produced no tangible benefits.

Constraints and complaints

It is not easy to provide a comprehensive, professional service to former Child Migrants and their families in 1998. There are many difficulties which arise from the nature of their experiences and the complexity of their needs. There are also political and other sensitivities which have arisen from the role of the Trust in exposing the human costs of Child Migration, which have led to stressed relationships with the migrating agencies.

Some of the difficulties for our staff arise from the:

—  Anger and despair of former Child Migrants waiting for a conclusion to their search for their families. Some have been waiting for years; there are more coming forward every week.

—  Inadequate financial resources which have denied our staff any security of employment, and have led to staff working excessive overtime, simply because it is clear to each staff member that families need to be found quickly.

—  Lack of any travel budget which has meant that clients in Australian states other than Western Australia and Victoria have had to wait for long periods of the Trust to visit, or rely on contact by telephone, a poor medium for dealing with such sensitive matters.

—  Complexity of each case; our clients need a highly specialised and individual service. Yet our present funding by the Australian Government allows for only two workers who have caseloads in excess of 200 each.

—  Hostility from other agencies, who do not accept that a neutral service is needed for Child Migrants to be freed from their past. Some agencies argue that former Child Migrants need reconciliation with the migrating agency as part of their recovery. This is particularly true of those agencies who demonstrate an agenda of trying to bring former Child Migrants "back into the fold".

—  Managing Australian offices without adequate clerical support, so that workers are constantly trying to balance the need to answer telephones whilst also providing a face-to-face service.Most of these issues focus around resources or professional practices. However, the concern that the Trust takes a negative view of the migrating agencies is a perennial issue which we believe arises from the Trust's role as whistle blower, and the agencies' slow response to meet their responsibilities in this matter. The Trust adopts the same social work values and principles in its dealings with all the migrating agencies. The Trust does take a strong position against child abusers, including paedophiles, and is concerned that the needs of former Child Migrants are not compromised by the difficulties the migrating agencies may have in dealing with their past practices or organisational guilt.

Courts and convictions

There have been several court cases, especially in Australia, involving former staff members of residential institutions involved in the care of Child Migrants. Most, but by no means all, of these cases concern male staff of religious agencies facing charges of indecent assault or sexual and physical abuse of vulnerable children.Despite the difficulties in collecting evidence about offences committed many years ago, convictions have been secured and jail sentences imposed. Public apologies have also been made by Church leaders for the terrible abuses suffered by children, including many former Child Migrants in Western Australia and at an orphanage in Neerkol, Queensland. One feature of particular concern has been the large number of children severely damaged by just one paedophile. For example, a "caregiver" jailed for seven years who had been employed by an agency heavily involved in child migration was implicated in abusing at least 28 young children. According to the police reports, many of these victims were so haunted by the abuse that as adults they withdrew into reclusive lives or turned to alcohol for comfort. At least two were so burdened by shame and guilt after suffering childhood abuse that they committed suicide. These findings confirm the experience of the Trust's clients of the lasting damage caused by this type of abuse.
All these court cases have been extensively reported by the mass media and have thus maintained an active interest in issues concerning former Child Migrants. In addition, several autobiographies by former Child Migrants have been published in Australia as well as an increasing number of histories concerning particular aspects of Child Migration. These have reinforced the impact of current affairs programmes and television news items often featuring either controversial developments and revelations or more happy stories involving family reunions.Former Child Migrants now realise that their voices are much more likely to receive a sympathetic hearing before a more receptive audience. The walls of disbelief and indifference have crumbled down as more allegations of ill-treatment have been proved, more perpetrators imprisoned and more apologies given.

Responses and resources

Despite considerable progress in promoting awareness of the often sad and occasionally tragic consequences of the migration schemes, the Trust has been disappointed by the inadequate response of Governments and migrating agencies to the incontrovertible need for urgent and substantial resource provision. With some notable exceptions, there has been a lack of imagination and leadership in the response of the agencies, coupled with a reluctance or refusal by governments to fund the necessary services. It has taken too long for agencies to move beyond reactions of denial before assuming more constructive positions and policies. Similarly, the British Government's initial response to a request for moderate funding by the Trust was to take several months to process the application before providing a small grant which would not meet the annual salary of just one social worker.After receiving no funds in the previous year, in 1992 the Trust wrote to the Department of Health explaining that it was involved in a race against time if former Child Migrants were to be reunited with their elderly parents and families. A positive commitment was required to confront the results of a policy which had failed to protect the interests of so many British children. Despite this letter, which clearly and forcefully stated the urgent need to resume funding, there was a total lack of a positive response by the Government.Similarly, the Trust's initial request to the migrating agencies for financial assistance fell largely on deaf ears, despite their considerable resources, influential supporters and fund-raising potential. As some of these agencies spend more in a single week than the Trust's total expenditure over the past 10 years, a more creative and generous response would have been appropriate. Fortunately, the Uniting Church in Australia did not follow this pattern and provided a grant to cover the cost of urgently needed administrative support in Victoria.While the Australian Government demonstrated a more flexible and willing approach at first, the Trust has struggled to develop an adequate level of service provision to match the range and diversity of its clients' needs. Thus, both in Britain and Australia, government funding has never been sufficient to fund more than one social work post at any of its offices. Certain key items of expenditure, such as the costs associated with family research or overseas travel, have never been included in any funding by either government. In short, the Trust has only been able to secure a minimum level of funding which provides for only the most basic level of service. This has resulted in considerable levels of stress and overloading on the Trust's few members of staff and a constant struggle to keep pace with the many urgent demands made on the service. In Australia, for example, there are groups of former Child Migrants in Queensland, South Australia and New South Wales who require a much more accessible and local service. However, the Trust needs to develop its services in a balanced, synchronised way and would require more resources in Britain before it could service further offices abroad.

The Present position

Although the Trust continues to receive new referrals every week, support for its vital work has been reduced to a final grant of £20,000 this year with no provision by the Department of Health for future funding. However, to provide a proper level of service, the Trust's current funding levels need to be reinforced immediately, given the diminishing time available to find and reunite former Child Migrants with elderly parents. The Trust benefits from a Lottery grant which provides finance for two Social Workers and a part-time clerical post over the next two and a half years.The work of the Trust is time-limited and will not stretch beyond a distant horizon, at least in terms of family reunions. The Trust has a sound infrastructure in place, coupled with the necessary professional knowledge and skills required to find and reunite relatives and families. It simply lacks two key resources—time and money.Those whose parents have died over the last decade know only too well that time was not on their side. However, those whose parents are yet to be found will want to know if this Government is committed to helping them in positive and tangible ways. Certainly, without renewed funding, even the Trust's limited staffing levels may be jeopardised, as would the number of reunions. More elderly parents will die before they can be reunited with their sons and daughters.
Central Government played a major role in child migration schemes—by establishing their legal framework, by providing financial support and even approving the decision to migrate specific children. Its responsibilities cannot be regarded as adequately discharged after providing a marginal level of support over a limited period to assist a minority of those concerned.


The Terms of Reference for this Committee are clear in their main focus on what action the British Government and others can take now and in the future to assist this unique group of people. However, it should be acknowledged that we cannot plan for the future without acknowledging and informing ourselves of the appalling legacy of the past. Sadly, the treatment of this particular group of British subjects rarely generates a sense of pride either at home or overseas. For many, it provokes a sense of shame.The Child Migration schemes separated British children from their families and communities and abandoned them to their fate. Most feel neglected and rejected, and desperately need their experience to be validated. Many were subjected to extreme forms of sexual, physical and emotional abuse. Clearly, this is an issue which demands recognition and compassion for the wrongs of the past which caused so much pain to so many. Former Child Migrants cannot understand why their Governments have been so indecisive and hesitant in their efforts to help. However much we may regret certain events in the past, we cannot change them but for Child Migrants there are still grounds for hope. There are measures we can take today which could go a long way to heal the pain and hurt of the past.The British and Australian governments should work together with the Trust to resolve this issue. It is not too late, although time is fast running out. All too often, the Trust's staff have to sit with former Child Migrants and explain to them that their mother has died while we have been searching for her. The past was awful, but the last 10 years have been truly wasted years for many. It is difficult to imagine any possible justification for the many missed opportunities to provide adequate funding over the past decade.The last chapter in the Child Migrants' story is not yet written, and this may be the Government's last chance to redress the fallout from this appalling piece of recent social history. Times and attitudes have changed. There is now a greater understanding of the needs of young children so that we can feel confident that Britain would never again subject vulnerable children to the horrors of such inhumane treatment. But the Child Migrants today are still those same children who have been suffering for the past 50 years and more.This is the saddest of all situations. Wherever there is hope and a chance to rectify the mistakes of the past and we turn our backs on that opportunity, we risk becoming morally bankrupt.


Without a major package of resources and a planned, swift response to this appalling British child care policy, many former Child Migrants will be condemned to live the remainder of their lives without any sense of personal reconciliation with their families, themselves, or their country.We recommend that the Government should give urgent consideration to the following measures:

  1.  The Trust needs a secure and substantial funding base to provide increased social work staffing levels to meet the urgent demand for service from former Child Migrants and their families. Child Migrants view the Trust's struggle for funding and the inadequate response from governments as evidence of further abandonment and a clear indication that they remain the "forgotten people". The Trust's two Australian offices combined are currently servicing in excess of 500 clients, with only two social workers. Waiting lists for social work and family research services are lengthy and growing. Alongside funding for additional staffing positions there is an urgent need for a travel budget and other infrastructure costs.

  2.  The Trust needs funding to secure the appointment of full-time researchers urgently. The waiting list for family research has been increasing rather than decreasing over recent years. Each week, on average there are two to three new clients approaching the Trust for assistance to locate their families. We believe that many more families could be found within a comparatively short time frame if the Trust was resourced for this key activity.

  3.  A package of resources, including air fares to enable former Child Migrants and their families to be reunited is needed desperately. At present many former Child Migrants cannot obtain assistance for travel to the United Kingdom to meet with their families. There are two limited schemes for assistance, mainly in Western Australia with restricted access and funds. Only a neutral, government-administered fund would provide the equity of access needed at the sensitive and difficult period surrounding a family reunion. This would be viewed as a timely response to a problem created by Government policy, and would be considered by most former Child Migrants as a positive step towards reconciliation.

  4.  Assistance and co-operation from government departments is needed urgently to assist the Trust to search for families. The cost of various methods of family research have never been covered by any funding grant although they represent a major item of expenditure within the Trust's budget. Protocols for fast tracking of urgent matters are also required as delays of several weeks for an urgently sought item of information is presently commonplace.

  5.  The Trust should be assisted to compile and complete a computerised database of all former Child Migrants and their records. This would require the co-operation of governments and agencies, and would protect former Child Migrants and their families from the stress of negotiating with the migrating agency if their experience in care was negative. The Trust would be able to access client information on behalf of former Child Migrants without the need for direct contact between Child Migrants and the migrating agency.

  6.  Discussions between the British, Irish, Canadian, Australian, and New Zealand governments are needed urgently to consider a co-ordinated response to the needs of this disadvantaged group of people. In particular, there remain outstanding concerns with regard to social security benefits and citizenship rights.

  7.  The plight of the Child Migrants represents probably the worst post-war scandal in British childcare policy. Our clients often speak of the need for acknowledgement by the British Government and recognition of their trauma through an unconditional apology. However, an apology needs to be backed by the provision of tangible measures to address present and future needs for it to be seen as a genuine response.

  8.  Former Child Migrants regard themselves as a group forgotten by the British people. There are no monuments, plaques or museum exhibitions commemorating this aspect of our history; nor is there as yet a recognised Government position concerning their past suffering and present plight. The former Government expressed a concern to help reunite families but did not provide the resources to realise this policy.The story of child migration is urgently in need of a more dignified and happy ending. We hope the Committee will seize this last opportunity to ensure that as many Child Migrants as possible can be reunited with their families.We hope we have learnt from the past and now present to you for your consideration the opportunities for today and the future. Many Child Migrants and their families live daily with the legacy of their past. What we do now will stay with them for generations.

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Prepared 10 August 1998