Inquiry into orphaned children sent to Australia and abused in the 1950s has opened


by Emma Dodds |
Published on

Absolutely horrendous treatment of the poor children

After WW2 finished in 1945, it should have been the happiest time of everyone's lives across the globe.

But this was sadly not the case for thousands of orphaned British children.

Instead of celebrating the end of the war, they were instead packed off to the foreign land of Australia, having no idea why this was happening or what would happen once they got there.

Orphan children sent from England by the Child Emigration Society in London at the Fairbridge Farm Scool in Pinjarra, western Australia - 2nd October 1934 (Credit: Getty Images) ©Getty Images

For almost 30 years, thousands of British children were sent off to Australia "to ease the population of orphanages in the UK and to boost the population of the colonies," according to BBC reporter Tom Symonds.

But what happened when they got there was tantamount to torture.

The investigations will finally take place nearly three years after they were first set up - mainly because the subjects are elderly.

One of the children was Clifford Walsh, who was sent to a place called Bindoon in 1954 at the age of nine.

Orphans from St Anthony's Home for Girls, Feltham, waiting at St Pancas railway station, London, before boarding a ship to Australia under the Catholic Emigration Scheme. The girls are travelling to the Saint Vincent Paul Sisters Of Charity in Adelaide - 17th December 1948 (Credit: Getty Images) ©Getty Images

Upon his arrival, he and many other children were forced to work as labourers, building huge buildings completely barefoot.

Bindoon was ruled by a group called The Christian Brothers, and after being there for only two days, Clifford was given his first punishment. He told the BBC: "He punched us, he kicked us, smashed us in the face, back-handed us and everything, and he then sat us on his knee to tell us that he doesn't like to hurt children, but we had been bad boys.

"I was sobbing uncontrollably for hours."

But it wasn't just beatings that Clifford would horrifically be subject to - he was sexually abused over and over at the hands of those in charge. He told how he had been blackmailed into a room by one of the men - who then sexually abused him.

A group of orphaned children from the Dr Barnardo's Garden City, Essex, going to Australia being seen off by the deputy High Commissioner for Australia, Mr Norman Mighell - 7th October 1947 (Credit: Getty Images) ©Getty Images

He was raped by another of the men, and another beat him repeatedly after falsely accusing him of having sex with another boy.

He said: "We had no parents, we had no relatives, there was nowhere we could go, these brothers - these paedophiles - must have thought they were in hog heaven.

"I was too terrified to report the abuse. I knew no other life. I've lived 60 odd years with this hate, I can't have a normal sexual relationship because I don't like to hold people. My own wife, I couldn't hug."

Boys from Dr. Barnado's homes for children having their first ship's rations aboard the Largo Bay, emigrating to Australia (Credit: Getty Images) ©Getty Images

Another victim of the deportation was David Hill, who today broke down whilst giving evidence to the investigation. He tearfully said: "Some children were as young as four when they were sent out, never to see their parents again, and to endure an entirely loveless childhood with nobody ever putting an arm around them, giving them encouragement or warmth."

Countless other victims have come forward in the wake of the investigation, which is expected to take around five years to complete. It has been given a budget of £17.9m, and is being led by Professor Alexis Jay, well-known as the head of the inquiry into the child sexual exploitation in Rotherham in 2013.

We truly hope this can be resolved for the victims of these terrible crimes.

Have you been following this case? What do you think of it? Let us know over on Facebook and Twitter.

Read more like this:

Emmerdale's Danny Miller discusses the impact of his child abuse storyline

Sister of murdered five-year-old April Jones shares shocking and disturbing new findings

Meet the woman who devotes her life to hunting paedophiles

Just so you know, whilst we may receive a commission or other compensation from the links on this website, we never allow this to influence product selections - read why you should trust us