Thousands of children were taken to Australia, Canada and other former colonies between the 1920’s and 1970’s as part of child migration programmes. They were promised the chance of a better life, but instead the “care” they received abroad left them at risk of abuse.
Most of the children who took part in the migration programme, were from deprived backgrounds or already in care, some of the children were as young as 5 years old. The “care” regimes they were sent to exposed the children to “physical and emotional abuse, neglect and sexual abuse.”
The Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) has been investigating child migration programmes and whether the children placed on these programmes were protected from abuse.
IICSA has found that, “children were lied to about their family background, including whether their parents were alive or dead.” One witness said that they faced, “constant hunger, medical neglect and poor education” whilst abroad.
The report has made 3 recommendations:
It recommended all child migrants are financially compensated by the Government through a redress scheme.
It called on all organisations involved in implementing migration programmes to offer apologies to child migrants.
It called for better preservation of child migrants’ records.
In 2010 the Government issued an apology to all those affected by the programmes and said that successive Governments had, “failed in their duty of care.” This apology has been reaffirmed every year.
It is thought that 2000 former child migrants are still alive. Whilst the former child migrants have not received any individual financial payments, the Government has made £9 million available to assist former child migrants to be reunited with their families.
In response to the report, a Department for Health and Social Care spokesperson said: “The child migration policy was misguided and deeply flawed.”
The Catholic Church in England and Wales has reiterated the apology they gave during the Inquiry and added “All sexual abuse of children and vulnerable people is both criminal and harmful and the Church condemns without reservation any such action or behaviour.”
The Government has confirmed that they will carefully consider the conclusions of the report.
Jordans Solicitors support the IICSA’s recommendations and in particular their recommendation that a financial redress scheme should be introduced to compensate the former child migrants for the unacceptable treatment they endured as children.