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Good British Stock: Child and Youth Migration to Australia


The Church of England

During the 1920s, various prominent figures within the Anglican Church in Australia encouraged assisted immigration, for young men and women, the former for farms, the latter for domestic service. The Church of England's Army, through Mr J H Stanley, had commenced migration work before the passing of the Empire Settlement Act: during 1921 it sponsored 174 persons to Australia, many of them ex-Servicemen, and scores of boys for farm work soon followed. The chief organiser was T S Pughe. In Queensland, Canon D J Garland managed schemes for both adults and farm boys, while the church in New South Wales was assisting some 700 immigrants by 1925.

After World War II, with Fairbridge, the Big Brother Movement and Barnardo's Homes in the main migrating Protestant youths, the Anglican Church was not heavily involved in juvenile migration. However, some children were brought to the Swan Homes near Perth. They appear to have been cared for satisfactorily and have never been mentioned in the controversy of the 1990s over some areas of Western Australian child care during the child migration era.

Many organisations assisted migrants to settle in Australia: the Anglican Church contribution to child and youth migration tended to be during the 1920s, when Canon D J Garland in Queensland provided committed, dynamic leadership to the Immigration Council established by the Church of England. The records in the National Archives tend to understate Garland's contribution, but provide useful comment on the problems and successes in settling British youth migrants in Australia.

CORRESPONDENCE FILES, ANNUAL SINGLE NUMBER SERIES, 1903–38
Canberra
Series: A1
Quantity: 337.14 metres
Recorded by: 1928–32: Department of Home Affairs [II] (CA 24)
Church of England Immigration Council, 1929–32 [46 pages]

The Rev. D J Garland, Church of England, Director of Immigration, Queensland, wrote to the Secretary, Development and Immigration Commission, Melbourne, 21 January 1929 enclosing a news cutting from the Daily Mail (London) which concerned two nonagenarian British migrants in Queensland who had prospered. Garland suggests that their stories could be used in forthcoming publicity, showing 'that Queensland is a place where people coming young from England can live long lives and prosper'. There are letters from Bishop G D Halford and Rev. A E Taylor (Kingaroy) to Garland discussing the progress of recently-introduced British 'farm learners'. Taylor wrote, 24 July 1929:

I am very fortunate in that the majority of the boys sent to this district ring true and so they make it easier in finding work for others. It is surprising though what a lot of damage can be done by a boy who is not the right type.

There are a number of Garland's half-yearly and annual reports and some news cuttings on the work of the Church of England Immigration Council which brought some 1 600 people, the majority youth migrants to the state over some six to seven years until assisted migration was ended during the Depression. Garland wrote in his Seventh Annual Report, 25 July 1932:

Unfortunately immigration remains suspended… after-care (however) on behalf of immigrants already here is more required than ever… departures, but the epidemic of homesickness amongst the immigrants is subsiding… the Council has devoted considerable attention to the placing of young Queenslanders on the land, and with some measure of success.

A1, 1932/7486
CORRESPONDENCE FILES, MULTIPLE NUMBER SERIES, 1923–34
Canberra
Series: A458
Quantity: 49.77 metres
Recorded by: 1923–34: Prime Minister's Department (CA 12)
Immigration Encouragement: Miscellaneous Policies. Anglican Church Scheme, 1923 [2 pages]

The Secretary of the Church of England Immigration Committee (Victoria) wrote to Lord Forster, 12 December 1923, that his committee has a plan to foster youth migration to the Commonwealth:

These migrants will be selected in London by the Church Army acting for, and on behalf of, this committee… These lads will be drawn for the most part from the Church Army Training Farm… The Church of England undertakes to exercise pastoral care and supervision over them in Australia.

In reply, the Governor-General's secretary commended the Church's initiative.

A458, J154/15
CORRESPONDENCE FILES, MULTIPLE NUMBER SERIES, 1951–55
Canberra
Series: A445
Quantity: 22.5 metres
Recorded by: 1951–55: Department of Immigration (CA 51)
Clarendon – Tasmanian Church of England Childrens Home, Part 1, 1948–53 A445, 133/2/10
Anglican Orphanage Perth, WA, 1947–53 [c.100 pages]

The 'Anglican Orphanage' is often referred to as the 'Swan Homes', since the original property was adjacent to the Swan River. There were three sections of the establishment: the largest, was the original institution near Midland Junction, 'Middle Swan'; the second section was eight miles to the northeast, the 'Padbury Farm School' or 'Stoneville', a smaller institution for older boys learning farming; and the third property was at Coogee near Fremantle, occupied all year round but used for the children during holidays on rotation. The material can be confusing if the reader is not aware that there are three properties under one management and with more than one name. The first item is a report by Mr R W Gratwick, Child Migration Officer, WA, dated 20 April 1947 after his preliminary inspection of the Swan Homes. Renovations were in progress; more developments were planned; Government assistance was requested; and the Manager, Mr A R Peterkin, was prepared to take only 20 child migrants in the first intake. There is much correspondence over the question of financial assistance. The Immigration Department advised, 20 January 1948:

Following upon a conference with State Immigration authorities on 20 January 1948, it has now been decided that institutions accommodating both Australian children and child migrants will be eligible for financial assistance.

Peterkin made formal application to Immigration Minister, Arthur Calwell, 1 April 1948, for assistance with a £19,000 development: a modern home for the girls at Swan, and a dormitory wing at the Coogee seaside property. There is a round of correspondence following the request of the Archbishop of Perth to send Mr A A Robertson to the UK to review the recruiting situation for the church; and a number of inspection reports.

A445, 133/2/3
CORRESPONDENCE FILES, CLASS 1 (GENERAL PASSPORTS), 1939–1970
Canberra
Series: A659
Quantity: 101.25 metres
Recorded by: 1939: Department of the Interior [I] (CA 27)
Church of England Migration Council – Nomination of forty youths over twenty years of age for farm work, 1938 [10 pages]
The Anglican Church was having difficulty filling a group nomination for youth migrants; hence the attempt to secure older young men for farm training. This group nomination envisaged five young men per month arriving, around 20 years of age, to be given six months training at the Glen Innes Government Experimental Farm. The Manager at the NSW State Labour Exchange warned that there were problems with such an age group, and that the training period without wages would be far too long. The matter was passed to the Department of Interior, and Mr T H Garrett summarised his discussions with NSW Department of Labour and Industry officials, 29 November 1938. There were strong reasons for rejecting the nomination and Garrett suggested a conference with the Church of England Migration Council, NSW. It is not clear from the file if, and when, the conference was held, but the impression is that the group nomination did not proceed.
A659, 1945/1/503
CORRESPONDENCE FILES, ANNUAL SINGLE NUMBER SERIES, 1929–
Canberra
Series: A432
Quantity: 353 metres
Recorded by: 1929: Attorney-General's Department (CA 5)
Clarendon Children's Home Kingston, Tasmania. Financial assistance by Commonwealth and Tasmanian Governments: Accommodation for Child and Youth Migrants, 1949–53 [c.100 pages]

The Secretary, Diocesan Children's Home wrote to the CMO, Hobart, 16 August 1949, indicating that the Clarendon Children's Home had been approved for the purpose of child migration. He now asked for particulars so that he could apply for financial assistance for the additional building and renovations which would be required so that twelve British migrant girls could be received; £8,500 was involved and there were delays in processing the application. Heyes explained to the Commonwealth Solicitor, Hobart, 31 July 1950, the ground rules under which voluntary organisations could apply for the two-thirds grant:

At a meeting of the Commonwealth and State Ministers held at Canberra on 15 January 1947, it was agreed that contributions by the Commonwealth and States should be regarded as a grant repayable on demand, without interest, on the understanding that repayment would not be sought except in the event of the winding up of the organisation or its facilities being used for a purpose other than of child or youth migrants. It was also agreed that the Commonwealth should take the necessary action on behalf of itself and the State concerned for the making of grants, the taking of security and the execution of deeds. The Commonwealth undertook to pay the total amount of the agreed Commonwealth and State contributions to the organisations which were to receive the grants and to claim reimbursement from the states concerned.

There are copies of draft agreements proposed between the Commonwealth and the Anglican authorities in Tasmania and after correspondence on these drafts there is a copy of the signed agreement. Approval was not granted until 10 January 1952. Meanwhile, building costs had risen; there were further negotiations; the Government grant was increased.

A432, 1950/1454
CORRESPONDENCE FILES, CLASS 5 (BRITISH MIGRANTS), 1945–50
Canberra
Series: A436
Quantity: 5.04 metres
Recorded by: 1945: Department of the Interior (II) (CA 31); 1945–50: Department of Immigration (CA 51)
Church of England – Youths for farm work wanted by NSW, 1938–47 A436, 1947/5/4171
Church of England Advisory Council of Empire Settlement, London. Child Migration Policy, 1948–51 [26 pages]

The Church of England had been involved in youth migration to Australia in the 1920s and supported the reintroduction of similar schemes in 1938–39, and on 23 August 1949, the Immigration Department initiated discussions with the Advisory Council on Empire Settlement to support the Government's new immigration policy:

As you know the Commonwealth Government is anxious to assist both religious and non-denominational bodies to bring children from the UK to Australia under approved migration schemes… voluntary organisations have the facilities for the accommodation and proper welfare of the children concerned and are well-equipped under Government supervision to care for the children.

The Council of Empire Settlement was anxious to be involved, but found recruiting suitable children extremely difficult. Miss E F Jones, the Hon. Secretary wrote to Australia House, 26 September 1949:

In spite of the fact that postwar child migration has been in operation for nearly three years, we are of opinion that Great Britain is not reconciled to the great opportunities and advantages which Australia offers to the children… of 52 Local Authorities, only two had submitted children for migration. Therefore, the sources of supply are limited to (i) (occasional) parents applying direct to our offices as a result of reading about our work in the National and Church press; (ii) Church of England institutions; (iii) two Local Government authorities.

Overall, the Church was involved only in a small way with postwar child migration, mainly to the Swan Homes near Perth.

A436, 1949/5/6347
GENERAL CORRESPONDENCE, 1926–30
Canberra
Series: CP211/2
Quantity: 23.94 metres
Recorded by: 1926–30: Development and Migration Commission (CA 243)
Church of England Immigration Council, 1928–29 [43 pages]

Canon D C Garland, Secretary of the Council wrote to the Development and Migration Commission in Melbourne, 24 February 1928 regarding a grant to assist with the expenses associated with immigration promotion and after-care, especially of 'farm learners'. He received a small half-yearly grant, and much of the correspondence is around the grant, its retention and its increase. There are two copies of the 'Third Annual Report of the Church of England Immigration Council, 1928' of which the following is a guide to its approach:

The Council assists immigrants of any denomination… we want contented settlers… we notice with satisfaction the courteous acknowledgement by the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Brisbane, Dr J Duhig of our including in our nominations members of his church.

There are newspaper cuttings around the work of the Council, a copy of the unprinted fourth report, and minutes of some meetings. Garland was a 'true believer' in migration, and as unemployment rose, he tried to encourage the Government to foster immigration, but was swimming against the tide.

CP211/2, 3/104
CORRESPONDENCE FILES, SINGLE NUMBER SERIES, 1959–84
Perth
Series: K403
Quantity: 49.56 metres
Recorded by: 1959–73: Department of Immigration, WA Branch (CA 962)
Swan Homes Anglican Orphanage – policy, 1947–61 K403, W59/114
Swan Homes Anglican Orphanage – equipment allowance, 1954–65 [68 pages]
This contains correspondence regarding payment of the equipment allowance for child migrants arriving at the Swan Homes over those years, together with lists of children and the names of the ships on which they arrived.
K403, W59/115
Swan Homes Anglican Orphanage – Government financial assistance, 1950–59 [52 pages]

There are architects plans of the new Swan Girls Orphanage. The report on the Swan Homes, c.1950 includes the following:

The Church of England has created a Provincial Immigration Committee which negotiates on child migration matters… they are confident that the continual flow of children can be maintained from England for many years… all the dormitories have been renovated… the home at Middle Swan has an excellent Trade Training School… modern gymnasium… (overall) an excellent effort.

There is correspondence over financial assistance for new buildings.

K403, W59/116
Swan Homes Anglican Orphanage – general inspections, 1947–60 [63 pages]
This contains numerous reports of inspections at the three homes, Coogee, Padbury and the original institution near Midland Junction which operated as the 'Swan Homes' under the Anglican Church. Over many years, the Superintendent was Mr A R Peterkin. These places, though less prestigious than Fairbridge and much less in the public eye than Brother F P Keaney's Clontarf and (later) Bindoon, represented contemporary Western Australian child care at its best. The reports consistently support this observation: the husband and wife teams in key management roles; adequate female staff with the younger boys; the homely atmosphere and small numbers at Padbury and Coogee; the co-educational aspect; the sensitivity to keeping family groups together. There is correspondence in the file over the role of the more isolated Padbury, 28 miles from Perth near the Great Eastern Railway. The Home Office insisted that no British children should be sent there straight after arrival; otherwise there was little for Child Welfare or Immigration Departments to argue about.
K403, W59/117
CORRESPONDENCE FILES, ANNUAL SINGLE NUMBER SERIES, 1948–65
Adelaide
Series: D400
Quantity: 435 metres
Recorded by: 1948–66: Department of Immigration, SA Branch (CA 959)
Child Migration – Brighton Babies Home, 1948–51 D400, SA1951/7105

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