The primary aims of the Trust are to enable former British child migrants to reclaim their personal identity and reunite them with their parents and relatives. Humphreys took part in the British television documentary The Lost Children of the Empire screened in and later broadcast in Australia. A popular history book with the same title was published to coincide with the documentary. Child migration continued over the next 35 years across three continents, including North America and Africa, ending in Australia in Christian Brothers[ edit ] In , a British Parliamentary Select Committee began an inquiry into child migration schemes, and published a report in August that year, which criticized the policy in general, and particularly certain Roman Catholic institutions in Western Australia and Queensland such as the Christian Brothers where child migrants were housed and allegedly abused. The Western Australian Legislative Assembly passed a motion on 13 August apologizing to former child migrants.

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Start your review of Empty Cradles Write a review Nov 18, Paul Bryant rated it really liked it Recommends it for: social workers - for once the social worker is the hero not the villain Rewritten, having just seen the movie from last year. In the mid s Margaret Humphreys was your average social worker living about three miles away from where Im typing this review, in West Bridgford, Nottingham. She got interested in what happens when adopted children try and trace their biological parents, which as we know is an emotional minefield.

One day a letter arrived from Australia from someone who Rewritten, having just seen the movie from last year. One day a letter arrived from Australia from someone who thought Margaret might be able to help her. This woman wanted to find out who she was. I was four years old when I left England. All I know for certain is that I once lived in Nottingham. So why did she think she was? So she began to tug at this little thread, and found several more, and finally unravelled the whole sorry astonishing story of the child migrants.

The discipline was severe and the pay was poor. Oh, and quite often they were sexually abused. When they were grown up they were turned out and left to get on with life wherever they might be, with no explanations of where and why and who they actually were.

And if we did not supply from our own stock we were leaving ourselves all the more exposed to the menace of the teeming millions of our neighbouring Asiatic races. And the parents probably mostly single women who thought their kids were in care temporarily while they got their lives together were told the kids had been adopted by English families!! What extraordinary lies. And of course, the authorities, the Christian charities, the governments who organised this, all thought they were doing a good thing, providing a lovely life for the kids away from the English slums they were born in, in sunny Australia or Canada!

If I ever get to England I would go to them and say : look what you have done to me. So suddenly Margaret Humphreys had become the champion of all these now middle-aged and elderly child migrants. They all wanted her to find out who they were. What a job. She got a secondment from her social work position and created the Child Migrants Trust and it took over her whole life. As she began to make enquiries MH was met with institutional amnesia and flat-out hostility from the charities and church organisations.

She had to prise the information out bit by bit. They hated her. They really hated her. Well, this plainly written and very compelling book tells the story up to — there was a documentary, a mini-series, the Order of Australia award for MH, and on 16 November there was finally an official apology from British Prime Minister Gordon Brown and from Australian PM Kevin Rudd : "To you who were sent to our shores as children without consent Sorry that as children you were taken from your families and placed in institutions where you were so often abused, sorry for the physical suffering, the emotional starvation, and the cold absence of love of tenderness of care.

Sorry for the tragedy, the absolute tragedy of childhoods lost, childhoods spent instead in austere and authoritarian places where names were replaced by numbers. The truth is a great evil has been done. And who wants to draw these distinctions? Their organisation in this case the Christian Brothers but elsewhere other religious groups closed up like a giant clam full of vile secrets.

Maybe he was one of these migrant children, maybe he emigrated on his own initiative. At the age of 31 she found two sisters she had no idea about. Through the car window you can see my old house, the first one I bought!


Margaret Humphreys



Empty Cradles


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