This week a dark chapter of the Australian and British history came to a close when UK premier Brown apologised to the ‘forgotten Australians’, British children that forcibly migrated to Australia between 1920 and 1967.
Not much has been known about this chapter but in recent years attention was drawn to the thousands of children that were moved and their subsequent plight.
These children -often without even a passport or other documentation- were sent abroad with the promise of a better life. Sadly, many of the children suffered abuse and other hardship in the families and orphanages that they ended up in. Tragically also, many of them were removed from Britain without their parents' consent and some of them have grown up never even knowing their real parents were still alive.
This apology was a formal acknowledgment of that suffering and the destruction that the governments of the time caused in their families.
Some of these children gathered in Sydney today to hear the speech being read to them, which follows a formal apology that was made by Kevin Rudd, last year.
Apart from the apology, Brown has announced the launch of a 6 million pound fund so former child migrants could trace their long-lost relatives.
He has been reported as saying that: "We agreed that we had not only to issue an apology to all those people, because that is words, we had to do something about it. So we have set up a fund."
Even if late- many of the children are now in their later years, with some in their 80s- the fund will certainly help many that are still struggling to trace their family.
It also means there is more funding for people like British social worker, Margaret Humphreys, who has set up an organization, the Child Migrants Trust, to help these children trace relatives. She provides services such as retrieving files and personal documents from government departments and the migrating agency archives; obtaining the birth certificates for former Child Migrants, some of whom have no other proof of identity; and conducting family research worldwide.
We wish all the children still looking for ancestors luck with their research.
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