Select Committee on Health Minutes of Evidence


DOCUMENT 6

Enquiries by Former Child Migrants and their families

STATEMENT OF INTENTThe first episode of child migration by Catholic child care agencies was to Canada, from the 1870s until the 1930s.The second was the Australian Child Migration Scheme which started in 1938 just before the onset of the Second World War, resumed in 1947 after the War and continued until 1965. During this time Catholic agencies in the UK worked within the legislative framework of the British and Australian governments in nominating children for migration to Australia. The total number of children sent under the scheme during this period was approximately 3,000, of whom we believe about 1,250 came from Catholic children's homes and agencies. Most of these were sent under the auspices of the Catholic Child Welfare Council acting on behalf of Diocesan agencies and religious orders.The child migrants going to Australia via CCWC as agent, can be divided into two main categories: those sent by the Diocesan child care agencies and those sent by religious orders, such as the Sisters of Nazareth. A few individual children were sent at the request of their families. A further small category of children were recruited by Australian institutions in direct contact with Catholic children's homes in the UK. Some of these children became known to CCWC after they had left.We now know that the experience of being sent to a country at the other side of the world, placed in large institutions, away from familiar faces and environments, with no knowledge of their birth families and without any possibility of access to them has had a profoundly adverse effect on many of these migrants.Whilst CCWC (acting as agent) sending children out to Australia passed on responsibility for them to the Australian Church agencies, today CCWC accepts a commitment to these former migrants and their birth families through the provision of information and of professional social work services. CCWC therefore recommends to its member agencies and others that they should help those who seek knowledge and counselling.CCWC and member agencies and orders will endeavour to work with both individuals and with organisations advocating on their behalf, to share as sensitively and responsibly as possible what information is available.Our practice will be guided by standards of good social work practice and pastoral care.


 
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Prepared 10 August 1998