Available information suggests an apology is under consideration
30 September 2009: The UK Government is thinking in terms of saying sorry to thousands of British child migrants, who were sent to Australia last century, according to Sky News.
Available information suggests the move comes at a time when the Rudd Government has vowed to officially express apology to former child migrants before the year end.
It is believed Britain’s Deputy High Commissioner has told Sky News the UK is likely to follow Australia in the matter of apology.
The development is significant as a large number of orphans are said to have suffered physical and emotional abuse. Estimates suggest as many as 10,000 poor “unwanted” children were sent out to Australia in two decades beginning 1947. They were often falsely labelled as orphans; and were treated badly upon arrival on ships. Collectively, they came to be known as the `Orphans of the Empire’.
So far, both the Australian and the British governments have turned down the pleas for compensating former child migrants.
Alan Gill, author of the expose `Orphans of Empire’, has already asked for compensation for those badly treated in the orphanages. He has categorically asserted neither Britain, nor Australia, showed any compassion in their matter.
Australia had earlier made public its plans to apologise to thousands of British children, who were admitted to orphanages, “where brutality and sexual abuse were everyday occurrences”.
Describing it as a “significant national step”, Families Minister Jenny Macklin had asserted it was likely to go a long way in contributing to the healing process.
The apology is expected to cover thousands of local children, who also suffered abuse and neglect after they were placed in government institutions or foster homes.
A government report, some five years ago, estimated that 500,000 children had been placed in orphanages or foster homes as they were born to single mothers or into poor families.