Select Committee on Health Minutes of Evidence


Family search service for former Australian child migrants
A fund was set up in 1992 by grants from the Christian Brothers in Australia and the Nazareth House Sisters in England to finance the tracing of family of ex-migrants who went to Australia from religious homes in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. Those ex-migrants who were in the care of one of the Catholic diocesan child care agencies were referred to those agencies direct and are not funded under this scheme.The fund has been administered by CCWC and I have co-ordinated or carried out personally all the research into finding families or information that might lead to a family being located. The Family Care Society in Belfast has handled enquiries relating to ex-migrants who were born and admitted to homes in Northern Ireland. From July 1992 to 31st December 1997, a total of 194 enquiries were received.

Sources of enquiries:
The Catholic Migrant Centre in Perth 71
The Child Migrant Trust in Nottingham 27
CBERS (Christian Brothers Ex-Resident Services, Perth) 13
Direct from the ex-migrant 44
Others 9
Referred direct to FCS Belfast, sources not known* 18
Relations or friends seeking information about former migrants 12
Total 194


Initial enquiries revealed that the ex-migrant was in the care of one of the Diocesan Societies,

therefore the enquiry was forwarded to the Society for action

Initial enquiries revealed that the enquirer was not an ex-child migrant, so advice was given and closed 4
Enquiries from Child Migrant Trust requesting basic information from database, Nazareth House records or any other records, (includes four transferred to them later) 31
Enquiries received from relations or friends seeking information about former migrants 12
Mother traced and welcomed contact 4
Mother traced but refused contact 7
Other relatives traced and welcomed contact 16
Other relatives traced but refused contact 4
Family traced after extensive enquiries, 99 per cent certainty but family would not accept kinship 1
Enquiries came to a dead end and had to be closed 26
Enquiries ongoing in Belfast at 31-12-97* 27
Enquiries ongoing in England at 31-12-97 28
Misc, includes services such as escorting at airport, birth certs only requested, etc. 11
Total 194

* The number of enquiries made direct to Belfast in 1997 and the number still ongoing there was affected by the Sentimental Journey trip there in June 1997.

NOTES:Very little information exists for ex-migrants who were received by the Nazareth House Sisters, usually just a one line entry in the admission register giving only basic information, such as name, date of birth, date of baptism of the child. Rarely is there any information about mother, no date of birth, no age, no address, no next of kin. In these cases, research has to commence simply on the information given in the ex-migrant's birth certificate. One can only try to guess that the mother was between the age of 17 and 30 at the time of the birth and probably went on to marry, so it is a question of searching indices, voters' lists, sometimes even additional information can be gleaned from the baptism certificate. Exceptionally, a hospital record exists and information obtained from the creed register.It is recognised that very many ex-migrants were born during World War II, Mothers, if still alive, typically, will be in their late 70s and early 80s; most went on to marry, and typically kept the existence of their child secret from husband and family. In their declining years and possibly in poor health, it is pure speculation whether there will be a welcome for a "child" from the past. However, one can only preserve in tracing and at least ask, risking whether this contact causes distress. The rate of "success" with mothers has not been high, although it is better when half-siblings or other relatives have been found.Michael Lyons,CCWC researcherFebruary 1998.

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