If you were one of the thousands of British child migrants to Australia from 1950-70 under the United Kingdom’s child migration policy, you might be entitled to compensation, whether you were subjected to abuse or not.
On 1 March 2018, the Independent Inquiry into Child Sex Abuse (IICSA) released its Child Migration Programmes Investigation Report concerning child migrants sent to Australia. The report heavily criticised the United Kingdom’s child migration policy and detailed the extensive abuse suffered by those children sent to Australia.
Where were child migrants sent? The child migrants were sent to Australia, Canada, New Zealand and South Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe). After the Second World War around 4,000 children were migrated from Britain and a majority of these children were sent to Australia. This mainly occurred between 1947 and 1965 but the Report notes the last child migrated to Australia from Britain was in 1970. The receiving institutions were spread throughout Western Australia, South Australia, Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland and included Fairbridge Farm School, Northcote Farm School; Barnardo’s School, Drapers Hall; Methodist Children’s Home; Dalmar Children’s Home; Methodist Home for Girls; Nazareth House; St Joseph’s Orphanage; Casteldare Boys’ Home; Tardun Farm School; Clontarf Boy’s Orphanage; Bindoon Boys Town and St Vincent de Paul’s Orphanage.
Compensation for child migrants
The Report makes clear the UK Government of the time is unable to hide behind blindness to these issues, as documentation was put in evidence showing incidences of sexual abuse had been reported, albeit in different terminology as would be used today. Further, the UK Government is unable to say child sexual abuse was not known to be a prevalent issue as legislation exists as early at 1885 recognising the legal and moral wrongs of sexual interference with a child. The IICSA recommended the United Kingdom Government establish a redress scheme to compensate those child migrants to Australia who may have suffered under the child migration policy. As the child migration policy created such a significant risk of harm to these children, the IICSA recommended each person be compensated, regardless of whether abuse has been suffered or previous compensation was paid. The IICSA panel has urged the UK Government to establish this redress scheme without delay with a view to making payments within 12 months and payment should be made without a reduction in payments of compensation already made. The United Kingdom Government has not yet established this redress scheme, but it is important that you speak to a team of solicitors that has a proven track record of dealing with cases of abuse in the UK legal system.
Partner, Alan Collins, has extensive experience in advocating for the rights of survivors, both in ensuring redress schemes are established and accessing existing redress schemes. The abuse team at Hugh James is a team of solicitors who specialise in representing those that have suffered abuse. We have team members who are qualified in both England and Australia, to investigate your individual circumstance for free, without obligation. The Abuse team represents survivors of abuse from all around the world and will ensure our services are available at times convenient for clients based in Australia. Although the IICSA recommendation is that all child migrants be compensated, each child migrant's situation is different and specialist advice from a specialist solicitor is the best way to know your rights. If you believe you, or a family member, is entitled to compensation under the proposed redress scheme please contact us today.