Australian church apologies to child migrants

March 22, 2001 / BBC News

Australia's Roman Catholic Church publicly apologised on Thursday to British and Maltese child migrants who suffered abuse including rape, whippings and slave labour in religious institutions.

The apology was delivered at a parliamentary inquiry into child migration.

Two church bodies said the programme, in which more than 1,000 British and 310 Maltese children were sent to Australian Catholic schools between the late 1930s and 1960s, resulted in "suffering and dislocation".

Many children were raped, whipped, stripped of their names and forced to scramble for food thrown on the floor. Some children were also made to do hard labour, including construction work, at some schools.

The Church said it has allocated about $1m to help former child immigrants go back to their countries of origin, especially to meet relatives, as well as for counselling.

The child migration scheme, partly organised by the Church, was aimed at bringing "pure white stock" from Britain to former colonies. It ran from about 1850 right up to 1967.


Spokesman Tony Shanahan said the Church was "painfully aware" that some children suffered physical, sexual and emotional abuse.

"We are sorry that some of those vulnerable children who should have found care and protection in our Catholic institutions suffered abuse."

Mr Shanahan added that the UK and Australian government should also take responsibility for the issue.

The International Association of Former Child Migrants Vice- President, Don Coleshill, who was shipped to Australia from Britain as a five-year-old in 1937, accepted the apology with "a very large grain of salt".

"They are only hollow words unless you say you want to do something to substantiate or support the apology," he said.

Joint policy

Although numbers are unclear, it is believed that a total of 130,000 were "exported" from Britain over a period of 100 years.

Children left in homes, due to broken marriages or family pressures, were sent from Britain, which in turn was relieved of caring from them.

Although classified as orphans, most children did in fact have parents, who were often unaware their children were sent away.

The full details of the scheme emerged as late as 1998 during a parliamentary inquiry in Britain.

The inquiry found that migrant children were subjected to systematic abuse in religious schools in Australia, New Zealand and other countries.

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That is DISGUSTING!!! The

That is DISGUSTING!!! The catholics (small 'c' fully intended) should never have been allowed to all themselves 'holy'. They had no right to even walk past a Church, never mind be associated with it. This makes me feel SICK. I'm so proud to NOT be a catholic, and to live my life by God's standards. Let's hope they have changed now, eh????.......

Not limited to the Big (or little) C's

The Catholic Church is not the only religious order known to hurt children.  When put in the wrong hands, religion/fundamental faith can be used to bully, intimidate, and scare the hell out of people.  In fact, in many of our featured abuse cases, religion and the rod - or deprivation -  were used to "help" control/discipline those seen as unruly.  More disturbing is knowing many of these abuse cases were hidden from health and school authorities because the children were home-schooled.  [Can we see the repeated theme that goes behind "the cloak of secrecy"???]

Disgusting examples of modern-day religious influence on an adoptee include:

For those who have survived the terrors of the religious-on-a-mission, is it any wonder so many grow to have very little faith in both God and man?

Pound Pup Legacy