Australia's apology to transported children - Thousands sent from UK to Australia for better life were abused and enslaved By Kathy Marks in sydney 8/31/09
Between the 1920s and the 1960s, Britain sent an estimated 10,000 children to Australia to help populate its former colony with "good white stock". The children were promised new lives in an exotic land of plenty; instead, they suffered hunger, privation and abuse in government and religious institutions.
For decades, the former child migrants have been seeking official recognition of what they endured, and asking for restitution. Yesterday the Australian government took a first step, announcing that the Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, would formally apologise to them, in a gesture similar to his acknowledgement last year of the wrongs inflicted on the Aboriginal "Stolen Generations".
For victims such as John Hennessy, who was plucked out of a Bristol orphanage and shipped to Australia in 1947, the apology has been a long time coming. Aged 10, Mr Hennessy was sent to an institution run by the Catholic Christian Brothers at Bundoon, north of Perth. He and the other boys were used as slave labour on a building project. They received scant education and little to eat....
Many of the children exported to the other side of the world believed they were orphans or unwanted by their families. Mostly this was not true: they had been taken from their mothers as illegitimate babies, or placed in orphanages by single parents or families too poor to bring them up. Often they were put on ships to Australia without their parents being informed.
The apology, which will also be extended to Australian-born victims of institutional abuse, follows a series of parliamentary inquiries in Britain and Australia over the past decade. A report by the Australian Senate in 2004 detailed "a litany of emotional, physical and sexual abuse". It also found that children had been routinely deprived of food, education and healthcare.