Former Prime Minster Gordon Brown has accused the government of wilfully sending children to Australia during a period that spanned 40 years, in the knowledge that they were at high risk of abuse. Evidence is now emerging that many of these children were also abused in the UK before leaving to go abroad. Brown says the government’s involvement in this national disgrace is tantamount to criminal negligence.

Children in England were sent to Australia during the 1920s-1960s, with a view to ‘cleaning up’ the country. Many of these children had been separated from their parents.

A debate in the House of Commons in 2015 where Lord Blackheath admits the government’s involvement in facilitating child abuse during that period and enabling the cover up that followed, led to Researching Reform writing about the contents of the debate. In the debate, Lord Blackheath confirms that he personally arranged for children to be sent to Australia, knowing the sexual abuse that was waiting for them there. Blackheath also made these arrangements illegally – none of the children had legal permission to travel. 

Gordon Brown’s view of the legal implications is right. Government officials were well aware of the terrible abuse these children would experience once reaching Australia, and were equally unconcerned about the abuse they suffered before leaving. These children were also sent off without the correct legal permissions to travel, which should not be ignored in any future legal actions mounted.

If you were a child migrant and are trying to locate your family, the Child Migrants Trust may be able to help you.