Child migrant accepts PM's apology

A MAN who was transported to Australia at the age of eight through a national child migrant scheme has accepted an apology from Gordon Brown.

A MAN who was transported to Australia at the age of eight through a national child migrant scheme has accepted an apology from Gordon Brown.

Following the Australian government's apology last year, the Prime Minister has now also said sorry for the policy that saw thousands of children, some as young as four, taken from orphanages and underprivileged parents and sent to Australia, New Zealand, Zimbabwe and Canada.

Most were told they would be placed in foster families but many ended up being poorly treated on farms and in religious institutions.

Ray Tate, 71, of Bell Lane, Kesgrave, was shipped out to the Fairbridge Farm School in Molong, New South Wales, in 1947 after being born out of wedlock and spending the first years of his life in a Kent orphanage.


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He said that Mr Brown's apology, given both in the House of Commons this week and to a Westminster reception with former child migrants afterwards, was a welcome move.

Mr Tate, one of only four “Old Fairbridgians” to attend the apology meeting, said: “What I liked about it was I met some of my colleagues from New South Wales - one I hadn't seen for 50 years.

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“At 15 we left school with whatever qualifications we had then we did two years of hard training work - scrubbing decks, milking cows, that sort of thing.”

Mr Tate, who returned to the UK in his mid-20s, said many of the children who were sent away did have parents, although some had been rejected or were shipped out to save money while also helping to boost the populations of the far-off countries.

He said: “Every day it's on my mind. I think some people were pleased with it [the apology] and I thought it was good.

“Whether it brings any closure, I don't know - I'm not sure what it means, really.”

Mr Brown said in his speech: “We are sorry that it's taken so long for this important day to come round and for you to receive the apology that you so richly deserve. And we are sorry that, as children, your voices were not always heard - your cries for help not always heeded.”

Mr Brown also announced that a �6million Family Restoration Fund would be set up to support costs for former child migrants who wish to be reunited with their families

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