Welcome to another week.
The nation’s Independent Inquiry Into Child Sexual Abuse is to hear a potentially game changing witness statement today.
David Hill, who was shipped to Australia from England by UK charity the Fairbridge Society during the 1950s as a child migrant, will tell the Inquiry about the terrible conditions at the child migrant farm he was sent to. Hill will also ask the charity to make a full apology, and will be calling on the British government to provide full compensation for the several hundred children who were abused at farms run by the society.
The charity, which is supported by British aristocracy and is alleged to have links to the royal family, has repeatedly refused to say sorry for what happened at their farms. A staggering 60% of the children sent to Fairbridge Molong were sexually abused.
The scale of abuse at these institutions was well known at the time. in February 2015, Lord Blackheath told the House of Lords that he and many others were involved in shipping children to places like Australia, in the full knowledge that they would be emotionally and physically abused by the religious orders and charities who were meant to be looking after them. Blackheath also confirmed that he knew the children were being illegally shipped over – they did not have the proper legal permissions to travel. Many were also abducted from their parents or forcibly removed without any kind of due process.
David Hill’s testimony adds to the growing number of voices calling on the government to be held accountable for its actions. In 2015, Researching Reform wrote to the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse in Australia to share evidence of government failures which directly affected children who were abused in Australia. We also communicated with the nation’s Independent Inquiry Into Child Sexual Abuse inviting them to extend their scope to include children illegally transported to Australia, which they did in June of last year.
And in January of this year, former Prime Minister Gordon Brown went straight for the jugular, saying the government’s behaviour was tantamount to criminal negligence.
Hill’s evidence today could be the tipping point on this issue, opening up a floodgate of claims, and calls for the government to be put on trial for its actions.
Our question this week is a simple one: do you think the government should be tried for its part in the sexual abuse of children they sent to other parts of the world?