Select Committee on Health Minutes of Evidence


Information for Former Catholic Child Migrants to Australia


  • If you need us to help you look for family and know which church agency looked after you in England, Wales or Scotland, please contact that agency, from the list of addresses attached. You can also contact these agencies for local knowledge of homes and records in their areas.
  • If you came from England, Wales or Scotland and were looked after by the Sisters of Nazareth or do not know who looked after you, please contact:Mary Gandy or Michael LyonsCatholic Child Welfare CouncilSt Joseph's CentreWatford WayHendon London NW4 4TYTel and Fax: 0181 203 6323
    • If you came from Northern Ireland, please contact:Patricia McGrogan or Sister NoeleenFamily Care Society511 Ormeau RoadBelfast BT7 3GSTel: 01232 691133Fax: 01232 649849

WHO WE ARE AND WHAT WE DO:The Catholic Child Welfare Council (CCWC) is a federation of Catholic Children's Societies, other diocesan caring agencies and some religious congregations providing social care services for children and families in need, in the UK.Records of child migrants: About 1,250 child migrants went to Australia from Catholic children's homes in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland Between 1938 to 1963. CCWC has a central record for many, but not all, of the Catholic child migrants to Australia, but the information contained there is often very scanty. Most children were sent either by the diocesan child care agencies or by religious orders, particularly the sisters of Nazareth. A few were sent at the request of their families. Some were recruited by Australian institutions in direct contact with Catholic children's homes in England; some of these children became known to CCWC later. The Catholic agencies in the UK provide an information service for former child migrants and in recent years many have come forward to seek help or informationSearching for family: Making contact with family in the UK is a major priority for most former child migrants and we assist with this in whatever way we can. Many have already found mother, brothers and sisters or other family and have visited them. However, for others it will simply prove impossible to find any family at all, and this can be very hard to accept. Perhaps even harder are the cases where a mother or family members are found, who turn out to be unwilling to open up any contact, or where the kinship is not even acknowledged. It is therefore important to be prepared for disappointments.If you were in the care of one of the diocesan children's societies here, that agency will take on the case, working with both its own records and others to try to discover living family, or, if this proves impossible, as much information about your background as possible. If you came straight to Australia from a children's home or orphanage run by one of the religious orders here (normally the Sisters of Nazareth) or if we cannot identify you as having been in the care of a diocesan agency, then we (CCWC) will undertake the search.If you want us to take on a case, please write to CCWC or the Catholic Family Care Society (NI) in the first instance (details below), unless you are sure that you were in the care of one of the diocesan agencies, in which case write to that agency. Either you or an agency in Australia can write.The Catholic Migrant Centre in Perth holds some records, either you or we need to contact Sister Tania there to get any information they hold, though again this may not tell you much. Also, we try not to duplicate work which has been done already, so if you have had work done by the Child Migrant Trust (which offers an independent family search service), or any other agency please tell us. Catholic agencies are happy to co-operate with other professional agencies which make contact on your behalf.Unfortunately it is rarely easy to make any family connections. It can take a long time and progress may be slow. The records often give scanty information and the research work that may eventually lead to the family will take months or maybe even years. Even when family links have been found, it may take time for us to counsel and prepare the family members here. Even if it is not possible to locate living family members, we may be able to help you to locate graves.To summarise: We co-operate fully in whatever ways we can over records, locating family, counselling, hospitality and general support. Unfortunately we cannot provide financial assistance. If there is any way in which you think we can help you, do ask.

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Prepared 10 August 1998