Select Committee on Health Minutes of Evidence

Supplementary memorandum by the Catholic Child Welfare Council

EVIDENCE THURSDAY 11 JUNE 1998Q 214 It is noted that all three former child migrant witnesses were, in fact from Nazareth Houses (England, Scotland and Wales), and all went to Christian Brother institutions in Western Australia. It is a concern that these are not representative as they were all Catholic and all male. The sister of two former child migrants who gave evidence also talked of them being Catholic and, therefore not representative. Catholics, if one takes the Child Migrant Trust figure of 10,000 children sent to Australia, represent only 11 per cent of the total sent.Q 228 (Canon Fisher) We can find no evidence to support a theory of conspiracy either within the sending or receiving institutions, or within the CCWC, or between governments. There were different levels of individual encouragement and enthusiasm for the migration scheme. It is not possible from the records available to draw a conclusion of an organised conspiracy.Q 232 (Canon Fisher) The Catholic Child Welfare Council appears to have raised the issue of reports because Southwark Catholic Children's Society expressed concerns at the time. Reports on children were then requested from the Australian Orders (via the Federal Catholic Immigration Committee).Q 236 The Children Act 1948 was not implemented until the early nineteen fifties, and even then it may not have been seen as affecting children sent into the permanent care of another country. To this date there have been no guidelines.Q 260 The Catholic Child Welfare Council has had a developed database since 1994, containing details of all known former child migrants sent to Australia through Catholic agencies and institutions. CCWC has also been instrumental in setting up the Sending Agencies Group were discussion has taken place regarding the need for an international database. The Sending Agencies Group only started meeting after the visit of the Select Committee from Western Australia, and there has, therefore, been insufficient time to work out the practical detail and, more importantly, what function that database should have.Q 291 The question of a request for financial assistance from the Department of Health may be misleading, and the exact date of the meeting would need to be verified. The meeting with the Department of Health, involving the sending agencies, was not a specific application by the agencies for financial assistance, but a discussion as to how the Department could best provide help to former migrants. The agencies unanimously held that the majority of former migrants would wish to return to their sending agencies and that funding was, therefore, need22ed within the sending agencies. They were also unanimous in supporting the suggestion of choice.Q 296 It has to be noted that individual Catholic sending agencies have been incurring substantial costs in meeting the needs of former migrants. It is not possible at this moment to quantify this except to say that it involves a considerable commitment to the provision of services.18 June 1998

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