The Child Migrants


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Charles Wheeler tells the full and shocking story of the migration of over 150,000 children from Britain to the far-flung parts of the world between 1900's and 1967.

This week in Children of the Empire, he looks at the origins of the scheme and the departure of the children from Britain.


Charles Wheeler tells the story of the migration of over 150,000 children from Britain between 1900 and 1967.

This programme looks at the political background to the scheme.

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Looking at the contrasting experiences of child migrants at the hands of various different organisations.

Focussing on the Australian child migrants, Charles Wheeler talks to former migrants who were brought up by the Fairbridge Society on outback farm schools, they talk movingly about their 'cottage mothers' and the camaraderie at the schools.

Other Old Fairbridgians however, recall the loneliness and lack of compassion, and the failed opportunities for those children who didn't want to grow up to be framers or domestic servants.

In Western Australia, the experience of those children educated by the CHRISTIAN Brothers is looked at.

Here, many fell prey to a virulent paedophile ring operating in several of the CHRISTIAN Brothers institutions, whilst others were exploited and forced to build their own home at Bindoon.

A British Government inspector in 1956 had ""nothing good to say about them whatsover"", and yet they continued to take British Children well into the 1960's.

Analysing the backdrop to the schemes, Charles Wheeler comes to the conclusion that the child migrants fell foul of a political fudge between the Home Office and the Commonwealth Relations Office in which, the diplomats fearful of upsetting the Australians by being critical of their child care facilities won out.

Among the contributors are Eddie Butler, a former child migrant who helped to build Bindoon and revisits it with Brother Norm Tuppin of the CHRISTIAN Brothers, John Hennessy and Pam Wilson from Fairbridge.

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Charles Wheeler tells the story of the migration of children from Britain between 1900 and 1967, concluding with the anguish of former migrants seeking their roots.