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Inside Out: Surprising Stories, Familiar Places

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   Inside Out - East Midlands: Monday March 6, 2006

British children deported to Australia

Child migrants
Hopes and dreams - deported down under

Inside Out follows the story of the children who were deported to Australia in the 1940's, '50s and '60s.

They say the British Government has snubbed them and will be happy to see them die rather than help them.

Shipped Down Under

Between 1947 and 1967 up to 10,000 children were shipped to Australia.

They were sent to populate a nation with what was called at the time "good white stock".

Deportee and his mother
Former child deportee John Hennessey (right) with his mother

They were also the unwilling contestants in a competition between religious faiths to boost their numbers.

Parents weren't told the truth.

Their children lost their real identities and were told they were orphans going on holiday to a place where the sun always shines.

The policy was endorsed by Government of the day.

It was cheaper to send children to Australia than care for them on British soil.

It cost £5 a day to care in the UK but only 10 shillings in Australian institutions.

Hard labour

Those who suffered the harshest treatment were the boys sent to Bindoon, an isolated institution north of Perth.

The Catholic Christian Brothers ran it. Children built it.

British children were forced to do hard labour until they were 16-years-old.

Some of them had unimaginable abuse inflicted on them.

The practice continued until 1967 when it was stopped.

It was a Nottinghamshire Social Worker, Margaret Humphreys who uncovered the scandal and the scale of Britain's child migration.

"Tony Blair can find money for wars but he can't find money to help former child migrants be reunited with their loved ones".
John Hennessey, former child migrant

Twenty years ago she established the Child Migrants Trust, a charity which helps to reunite and support long lost families.

It's a charity which values its independence from the agencies which sent the children away.

Yet proper funding has been infrequent over the years.

Only the early and continued intervention of Nottinghamshire County Council has kept the Trust going.

The Child Migrants Trust now has bases in two Australian cities and gets Government funding towards its costs.

But the funding was cut by a third last year… and again for the next financial year.

This has been a huge setback for the organisation.

Sense of loss

Not all the children deported to Australia after World War Two experienced abuse.

A few have done well for themselves.

Child workers
The child migrants were put to work

Many more struggled after suffering the loss of their childhood and any sense of family.

In the worst cases the children are dead or in institutions.

What MPs found out shocked them.

After the Health Committee report, the Government announced a £1 million travel fund, to be spent over three years.

The money was only for former migrants to make one visit home if close members of their original families were still alive.

It paid for 300 reunions.

But now there's nothing to keep families together or help former migrants visit graves.

Shameful past

Norman Johnston from the International Association of former Child Migrants says the British Government travel fund should only have been a start, and a failure to right the wrongs of the past is shameful.

Child Migrants Trust door sign
Opening the door to child migrant support

In November 2005 the Association went to see Helen Liddle, the High Commissioner, in Canberra.

They have also written to Beverley Hughes requesting a meeting, and a letter has been sent to the Prime Minister.

What the Association wants is redress from the British Government - reparation for individuals who were denied justice because of the time limits on legal action.

What the Child Migrants Trust needs is sufficient funding to allow it to do its work tracing and reuniting families.

Time is running out as the migrants get older.

But they are also now dealing with a second generation… children of migrants who are suffering because of their parents suffering.

At present the Trust and their substantial records are based in rented rooms above a sandwich shop in Nottingham.

Support for former migrants

If you've been affected by any of the issues covered in this programme, the following organisations offer support for former child migrants and their families:

The Child Migrants Trust - UK
28a Musters Road, West Bridgford, Nottingham, NG2 7PL
0115 982 2811 (tel)
0115 981 7168 (fax)

The Child Migrants Trust - Melbourne, Australia
00 613 9347 7404

The Child Migrants Trust - Perth, Australia
00 618 9386 3605

The International Association of Former Child Migrants and their Families (IAFCM&F)
O0 618 9457 5241 - Perth, Australia
00 613 9347 7403 - Melbourne, Australia

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Lincolnshire's forgotten explorer

Flinders window
A hero down under is now honoured back home

Matthew Flinders was from the Lincolnshire village of Donington.

But few outside the village know that he named Australia and many of the places around its coastline.

He was the first person to circumnavigate the continent, beating the French to it.

He died at 40, unknown and uncelebrated in England.

But in Australia there are more monuments and statues to Flinders than any other person, apart from perhaps Queen Victoria.

There are countless places and streets named after him too including Flinders University in Adelaide and Flinders' station in Melbourne.

Making of statue
Flinders' statue is cast in Lincolnshire

But in his home country he doesn't even have a gravestone.

Euston Station was built on top of the church he was buried in.

But at last, the first public statue is being built to commemorate him.

It's being put up in Flinders' home village with the help of money raised in Lincolnshire.

The Flinders statue is unveiled on Flinders' birthday on March 16, 2006.

Inside Out watches the statue at every stage of its making from clay to bronze.

Who was Flinders?

Matthew Flinders was born in the village of Donington, near Boston, in 1774.

Donington sign
From Donington to Down Under - Matthew Flinders

His father, also called Matthew Flinders, was the local surgeon and apothecary.

Matthew was educated at home and in Lincolnshire schools, before joining the Royal Navy in 1789.

In 1791 he joined HMS Providence as a midshipman, serving under William Bligh on his second voyage to Tahiti.

After his return to England in 1793 he took part in the Battle of the Glorious on HMS Bellerophon.

The following year he sailed for New South Wales on HMS Reliance.

Voyages of exploration

Shortly after arriving in Sydney, Flinders explored Botany Bay and the Georges River in a small boat named Tom Thumb.

From 1796 onwards Flinders continued his explorations, carrying out valuable survey work among the islands.

Flinders' journals
Valuable study of Australia and its coast

Flinders' next project was a survey of the entire Australian coastline.

In January 1801, Flinders was given command of HM Sloop Investigator on which he undertook a number of voyages.

He then decided to sail for England to obtain a new boat for his survey work, but war broke out between Britain and France, and Flinders was imprisoned as a suspected spy.

Flinders was incarcerated on the French island of Mauritius for over 6 years, during which time he worked on his journals.

Find out more about Flinders' work in the archive

He was finally released in June 1810 and sailed for England where he settled in London to complete his book, A Voyage to Terra Australia.

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