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Research Guides

Good British Stock: Child and Youth Migration to Australia

3. Guide to the Records

Child migration policy

There was little organised juvenile migration to Australia before World War I except for the Child Emigration Society (Fairbridge) in Western Australia from 1913 and the Dreadnought Trust in New South Wales from 1911. Both of these developments were essentially ad hoc initiatives – state-based, when immigration remained in practice a state responsibility – without any sense of response to an overall official policy. The work of the Fairbridge Society and the Dreadnought Trust are considered in some detail later in this guide.

The outbreak of war in 1914 rapidly brought immigration to a halt for the duration, but the experiments with juvenile migration touched a responsive chord with many in the Australian community. Humanitarian, economic and imperial concerns were all evident, as when Arthur Goldie, General Secretary of the Millions Club, wrote to Prime Minister Andrew Fisher on 1 February 1915:

Boys are at present scarce in NSW industries… Large numbers can now be obtained in England and their economic value to the importing State is greater than that of adults because they have a longer life expectation and are much more readily absorbable19

These ideas were percolating through those groups in the community – both in the United Kingdom and Australia – who were interested in immigration. In 1920 all forms of migration resumed and special provision was made for young people by almost every state. Special features of child and youth immigration were established: it was – in overall migration terms – small-scale but important, because for some sections of the rural community 'boy labour' was inexpensive and exploitable, and because the arriving young people did not compete in adult or urban labour markets for some years.

Juvenile migration was popular with the broad Australian community when adult migration was not. It generated the 'feel-good' factor. Unemployment was high in the 1920s and adult migrants were competitors for scarce jobs. Many working class people and the Labor Party were cool towards, or opposed outright, to immigration. However, it was harder to be opposed to the arrival of deprived youngsters brought by Fairbridge or Barnardo's, and equally difficult to be bitter towards young men brought by the Dreadnought Trust or the Big Brother Movement or the churches, intended for rural work at low wages which few Australians wanted.

There is something here of the positive and acceptable side to juvenile immigration. However, during the 1920s, some of the dilemmas associated with the policy also became evident and remained as long as unaccompanied young people were brought to Australia. These were the 'standards' debate and the after-care problem. In general, Australian officials and care workers stressed the fine qualities they expected of the arriving young people. Permission to settle in Australia was a privilege. On the other hand, the British stressed 'after-care', that such young migrants required support before they became established in a new country. This meant resources which Australian governments were slow to advance. Over the years, these dilemmas were never solved to general satisfaction.

Behind the tensions over standards and after-care lay various immigration myths: one of the most enduring being that Australia was irresistibly popular with the British public as an immigration option and, indeed with foreigners in general. In fact, Australia had to compete for migrants with the United States and Canada, and had therefore, to offer incentives to persuade immigrants to venture so far from home. There was a further myth – that men and women of all classes responded to the romantic dream of immigration. In fact, the main motive for migration was economic; the established middle classes or their offspring rarely migrated. Migration was, in the words of one eminent Australian historian, 'the last desperate throw' for the marginalised, the long-term unemployed, those without prospects at home.20

In 1930, as the Depression deepened, almost all immigration to Australia ceased, and many former migrants left and returned home. Youth migration under the Dreadnought Trust and the Big Brother Movement was curtailed. However, Fairbridge was permitted to continue its work bringing children to its Western Australian farm school at Pinjarra and Barnardo's Homes to its property at Mowbray Park, Picton, south of Sydney. There was almost complete cessation of immigration for the next seven years, and when it recommenced on a small scale, juvenile migration was stressed as the most politically-acceptable form of immigration.

By the mid-1930s, the United Australia Party Government, led by Prime Minister Joseph Lyons, was anxious to recommence assisted migration from Britain. However, the states were cool, unemployment remained high, immigration was unpopular with many and the trade unions and Labor Party were opposed. However, there was more support for juvenile immigration and an Inter-Departmental Committee in Britain about this time exploring the renewal of the Empire Settlement Act favoured this specialised form of emigration in its report which stated, 'Further farm schools on Fairbridge lines should be encouraged and the United Kingdom Government should be prepared to make a contribution.'21 The United Kingdom High Commissioner in Canberra supported this option and wrote:

It is my purely personal opinion that further farm schools on Fairbridge lines would have the bulk of public opinion in Australia behind them; moreover, I think it not unlikely that the development of such schools in advance of renewal of a general scheme of migration would be acceptable to Australia.22

It was following the 1937 Federal election that juvenile immigration under the Big Brother Movement and Dreadnought Trust recommenced; and more farm schools were constructed and subsidised. Fairbridge opened its facility at Molong, near Orange, NSW; the Lady Northcote Trust established a similar farm school at Glenmore, near Bacchus Marsh, Victoria; and the Christian Brothers brought their first group of child migrants to the Tardun scheme at a property west of Geraldton. Two years later, the outbreak of war terminated migration for the duration, with the exception of the 1940 Overseas Children Scheme under which some 550 British children were brought to Australia as a consequence of the threatened German invasion.

The story has been told already how World War II and the fear of Japanese invasion had a dramatic effect on Australian immigration policy. As the invasion scare receded by 1943, the Government began to develop its new immigration plans. However, Labor was in power, memories of the Depression were etched in members' minds and a large scheme of child migration seemed the ideal spearhead for postwar mass immigration with its slogan 'Populate or Perish'. A second slogan was coined, 'The child the best migrant'. On 19 October 1943, Dr H C Coombs, Director-General of Postwar Reconstruction, wrote in a memo: 'The Minister thinks we should plan for immigration of large numbers of children after the cessation of hostilities.23 This possibility was explored by a Sub-Committee on Child Migration within the Inter-Departmental Committee on Immigration Policy and out of these deliberations the plan was evolved to take in 50 000 'war orphans' during the first three years after the end of the war. This became Government policy.

When he made his first major statement on immigration policy in the House of Representatives on 2 August 1945, the Minister for Immigration, Arthur Calwell, referred to the Government's plan to bring 50 000 orphans to Australia during the first three years of peace. In fact – and ironically – this program of child migration was the most specific immigration program to emerge from the war years.

It was not to be. The Government, at this stage, was out of touch with reality over the war orphan situation in Europe. Such numbers were not available; most countries refused to consider sending war orphans to Australia. In Britain, the Minister for Pensions forbade their emigration. In the event, in 1947, the long-standing child migration agencies – Fairbridge, Barnardo's, and various organisations within the Catholic Church among them – recommenced sending certain deprived and apparently-abandoned children to Australia, some 3,200–3,500 between 1947 and the cessation of child migration in 1967. Some 280–300 Maltese children migrated under a different but related scheme.

Meanwhile, youth migration flourished for twenty-five years. The Big Brother Movement arranged the migration of some 500 young men per year after 1947, and the YMCA, Boy Scout Association and various churches arranged for similar older youth to come under their auspices. However, the Dreadnought Trust did not revive its immigration activities after the war.

But times had changed. The social conditions and official mindset which had supported child and youth migration were transformed – beyond recognition – by the 1950s. Juvenile immigration was becoming anachronistic. What had seemed generous philanthropy at one time, was to appear abusive practice in a later age. However, juvenile emigration was long over before the controversy over the practice commenced during the late 1980s.

Series: A1
Quantity: 337.14 metres
Recorded by: 1903–16: Department of External Affairs [I] (CA 7); 1916–28: Department of Home and Territories (CA 15); 1928–32: Department of Home Affairs [II] (CA 24); 1932–38: Department of the Interior [I] (CA 27)
Child Migration from the United Kingdom, 1912–14 [36 pages]
T E Sedgwick was a British social worker, an enthusiast for youth migration. In 1910 he accompanied 50 young men taken from London and Liverpool and settled them on farms in New Zealand. He wanted to extend his plans to Australia. This file relates to Sedgwick's enquiry to the Australian High Commissioner in London on the eligibility for migration of British boys from reformatories, industrial schools, voluntary child care and orphanages. It contains also a 1912 Royal Colonial Institute Report on Child Emigration to Australia and New Zealand. There is a report by Sedgwick on his first year's experience of the pioneer experiment in New Zealand 'Town Lads on Colonial Farms'. Press cuttings on 'Sedgwick' boys, Fairbridge and the farm school movement generally are included, and there is information on a scheme to introduce apprentice farmers to South Australia. This was the brainchild of F W Young, MP in 1913. Sedgwick's writings reveal the classic attitudes of the youth migration enthusiasts: 'prospects negligible' (in UK); 'the hordes of wasted boy-life'; 'the wide open spaces' in the Dominions. However, Sedgwick's report 'Town Lads on Colonial Farms' has a tough practical tone, eg 'only a few (youths) over eighteen should be accepted'; 'boys who had spent prior time in a disciplined youth movement did well'; 'absconding should be an indictable offence'; 'training farms in England should test applicants'. After World War I, Sedgwick was to make repeated trips to Australia as a welfare officer on ships bringing young immigrants.
A1, 1914/5736
Oversea Settlement, Empire Settlement Act, 1926–30 [c.200 pages]
The first item is an agreement under the ESA between the Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs and the Church Army. There are similar agreements included in the file with Barnardo's; the 'Fellowship of the British Empire Exhibition'; 'Mr Fegan's Homes'; the Church of England Incorporated Society for Providing Homes for Waifs and Strays; the YMCA; the Salvation Army; the Hull and District Migration Committee; the Oxfordshire Migration Committee; the Child Emigration Society; the National Association of Boys Clubs; the Church of Scotland Committee for Social Work; and many others.
A1, 1932/7770
Child Migration from Malta, 1935–37 A1, 1937/10182
Child Migration within the Empire, 1930 [8 pages]
This contains correspondence during 1930 between the Department of Labour and Industry (NSW) and Dr Barnardo's Homes with statistics on the numbers of boys and girls received, the extent and nature of training and degree of success of particular children. These particulars were for use at the forthcoming Imperial Conference. Barnardo's – concerned during the 1920s mainly with youth migration – had brought 633 boys and 342 girls to NSW during the decade. There is a general discussion of their assimilation into the community together with examples of 'successes' and 'failures'. At this stage, only two boys and four girls had returned to Britain.
A1, 1932/7707
British Settlers Welfare Committee New South Wales, Financial Statements and Reports, 1931–34 A1, 1934/1717
File No 1. British Settlers Welfare Committee NSW, General File, 1929–32 A1, 1934/1439
British Settlers Welfare Committee. Question of subsidy by Commonwealth Government, 1934–36 A1, 1937/7110
British Settlers Welfare Committee, New South Wales, 1933–36 A1, 1936/1580
Series: A458
Quantity: 49.77 metres
Recorded by: 1923–34: Prime Minister's Department (CA 12)
Immigration Encouragement. Main policy file, 1919–24 A458, G154/7 part 1
Series: A461
Quantity: 143.82 metres
Recorded by: 1934–50: Prime Minister's Department (CA 12)
Immigration, Control by the States. Prime Minister's Department, 1929–30 [21 pages]
This contains letters from Canon D J Garland of the Church of England Immigration Council, expressing his concerns to the Government about the suspension of assisted immigration especially where it concerned juvenile farm apprentices for Queensland, of whom 3 563 boys had come to the state since before World War I; the program 'an unqualified success'. As Australia was in economic recession, the Government was unsympathetic. Senator G C Daly minuted: 'Unnecessary to pursue the matter further' – 7 February 1930.
A461, C349/1/1
Child Migration – General, Part 1, 1937–44 [145 pages]
There is information from both before and after World War II included in this file. In 1937 Prime Minister Lyons announced the reintroduction of assisted migration in a speech, 28 September 1937, in which he stressed the drop in the birth rate during the Depression, therefore 'the Government can no longer delay… the states are procrastinating. There are two forms of assisted migration that have been outstanding in their success: (1) assistance by the payment of part of the passage money to British people nominated by their friends or relatives in Australia, and (2) child migration by such schemes as the Fairbridge Farm School'. Most of the material concerns the new immigration policy. There are proposals for the migration of war orphans, including refugee and displaced children from Europe after conclusion of hostilities. The Commonwealth Government worked in association with the Inter-Governmental Committee, UNRRA and the British Orphans Adoption Society. The file also contains correspondence with the Australian Jewish Welfare Society regarding the immigration and adoption of refugee children before the war and a proposal by the Marsden Home for Boys, Kallangur, to bring boys from England to Queensland. Various press cuttings and letters reveal both official and unofficial attitudes to child migration. The following four files, described in more detail in their respective sections of this guide, are closely related: Lady Northcote Bequest A461, B349/1/7; Fairbridge Farm School A461, C349/1/7; Barnardo Boys A461, H349/1/7; and Catholic Institutions in Western Australia A461, M349/1/7.
A461, A349/1/7 part 1
Child Migration – General, 1944–50 [156 pages]
This concerns various approaches by sundry associations and individuals to the Government in the wake of its announcement of a new, much more vigorous immigration policy, after the conclusion of hostilities. The British Orphans Adoption Society wrote to Prime Minister John Curtin, 8 September 1944, offering its services in arranging placements for British war orphans. Curtin granted their leaders an interview, on which there are notes here. Mr L S Amery, British Minister at the India Office, urged more schools on the Fairbridge model, and advised that they take a number of abandoned German orphans. There is a range of newspaper cuttings which illustrate the ferment which the new immigration policy stirred in the community. While this is not a policy-making file, Government attitudes had hardened against legal adoption for overseas children brought to Australia, frustrating the plans of the British Orphans Adoption Society. Adoption presented legal problems in the confusion and dislocation caused by six years of warfare.
A461, A349/1/7 part 2
British Settlers Welfare Committee – NSW, 1921–36v A461, D349/1/11
Immigration Agreements under the Empire Settlement Act, Part 2, 1931–41 [c.200 pages]
The file contains copies of agreements between the British Government and certain voluntary societies under the Empire Settlement Act, for example, the Fairbridge Farm School Society, Molong, New South Wales and the Salvation Army.
A461, B349/1/3 Part 2
Health of Migrant Children (Undated statement by the Minister for Immigration, Mr A A Calwell, re the death of 12 European migrant children), 1946–47 [6 pages]
This contains an undated statement by the Minister for Immigration, Arthur Calwell, after 12 young children had died at the Bonegilla Camp near Albury, NSW in 1947. These children were not 'child migrants' as the term is used as they arrived with at least one parent. However, the deaths illustrate the condition in which some young people had survived the war. Calwell said, inter alia: 'The deaths of 12 European children at Albury, some of them from malnutrition, is a tragic reminder of the conditions of privation in which children are still forced to live in war-devastated Europe. Their condition of malnutrition was too far advanced… they arrived from Poland and the Baltic states via Camp Capua near Naples'. An official wrote on the file: 'I suggest the remains be cremated. There is no need to put them in the morgue'.
A461, P349/1/7
Series: A4940
Quantity: 77 metres
Recorded by: 1958–67: Cabinet Secretariat [I] (CA 3)
Increased maintenance payments in respect of child migrants sponsored by approved voluntary organisations, 1954–55 A4940, C1092
Series: CP4/2
Quantity: 1.08 metres
Recorded by: 1911–71: Prime Minister's Department (CA 12)
Migration 1. Policy of the United Kingdom Government. 2. Policy of the Commonwealth Government – statement by Minister for the Interior. 3. Development and Migration (a) Scheme of the Honourable B S B Stevens (b) Statement by the Minister for Development. 4. Review of past schemes (a) £34,000,000 Agreement (b) Farm Schools. (c) Assisted Passages. 5. Absorptive Capacity of Australia. 6. Report of Inter-Departmental Committee. 7. Big Brother Movement. Records relating to the Imperial Conference, 1937 CP4/2, bundle 3/57
Series: A457
Quantity: 18.27 metres
Recorded by: 1911–71: Prime Minister's Department (CA 12)
Immigration Encouragement. Particular Classes – Burnside Boys, 1922 [2 pages]
This contains a cablegram to the Prime Minister from the High Commissioner’s Office relating to a paragraph in The Times about the destruction by rebels in Ireland of an orphanage and asking someone to take the 33 boys it contained. Sir James Burns had offered to take them to the Burnside Homes in Australia provided they passed medical and other requirements. The Prime Minister’s reply stressed that none could be sent unless arranged under the existing agreement.
A457, Z400/5
Loans – Irrecoverable on account of migrants who have defaulted in repayments, 1923 [10 pages]
This file concerns loans made to assisted immigrants, domestic servants and Dreadnought Boys under the Assisted Immigration Deferred Payments Scheme and the question of writing off those thought irrecoverable. The file is of particular interest in relation to the individual case information.
A457, Z400/6
Immigration Encouragement, Particular Classes – Baby Immigration, 1922–23 [54 pages]
This concerns a proposal addressed to Dame Mary Hughes by Mrs Joice Nankivill of the Lyceum Club, Piccadilly, on the question of child emigration to Australia – dealing particularly with the adoption of 'war babies'. The matter was referred to the states and the replies were in the main unfavourable. There are articles from the Sydney Morning Herald in August 1922 and a letter to the Prime Minister by Mrs E M Irvine concerned with the adoption by Australian women of British infants then under the care of the National Children's Adoption Association. The matter was again referred to the states and an attempt made to test public opinion. The response was again unfavourable stressing costs and difficulties; some premiers were opposed to the proposal on principle.
A457, X400/5
Series: A659
Quantity: 101.25 metres
Recorded by: 1939: Department of the Interior [I] (CA 27); 1939–45: Department of the Interior [II] (CA 31)
Agreements Empire Settlement Act, 1929–40 [120 pages]
The file has copies of a number of agreements between the British Government and private agencies arranging child and youth migration under the Empire Settlement Act mainly during the 1920s; for example, with the Kent Association for Empire Settlement, 30 April 1929 'in a scheme for providing passage assistance, outfits and incidental expenses for certain migrants who proceed overseas under the auspices of the Association'. There are copies of agreements with the Dreadnought Trust, the Child Emigration Society (Fairbridge), Barnardo's, the Northcote Trust and the 'Fellowship of the British Empire Exhibition College in Australia'.
A659, 1945/1/511
Series: A989
Quantity: 30.6 metres
Recorded by: 1943–44: Department of External Affairs (CA 18)
Child Migration, 1944 [123 pages]
This concerns the Interim Report on the Sub-Committee, Child Migration, of the Inter-Departmental Committee on Migration Policy, c. January 1944 and correspondence surrounding the release of the report. The Interim Report contained the following reflections:
Child migration was given special consideration … Where are the children to be obtained? The answers must be, as they always have been, institutions and poor families.

There is the realisation that any available European children might not meet Australia's stringent medical requirements. There is a copy of the detailed Committee Report here, undated. There is also an interesting 'Memorandum Prepared in the Dominions Office, London for the information of the Sub-Committee on Child and Juvenile Migration', dated 31 March 1944. This quoted the Secretary of the Fairbridge Society (UK) as advising:

There is little prospect of Australia attracting child migrants in any great number… there may during the next few years be an increased number of applications on behalf of illegitimate children, but orphaned children can probably be cared for by the persons who are entrusted with the pension awards for the children.

There are details of the Commonwealth's eventually abortive scheme to bring 51 000 child migrants to Australia. This material is available in many other places.

A989, 1944/43/554/2/5
Series: A1066
Quantity: 31.23 metres
Recorded by: Department of External Affairs (CA 16)
UNRRA – Australian Council for UNRRA – ACTU and Child Migration Policy, 1945–46 [14 pages]
There is a copy of 'Immigration – Government Policy' – Ministerial Statement by Hon A A Calwell, 2 August 1945 – published as a booklet. On 24 July, an Immigration Department officer, minuted for Calwell his views on UNRRA:
I have been giving consideration to the future activities of the Australian Council for UNRRA which is a Council of some 40 voluntary organisations which was created last year to co-ordinate voluntary activity by Australians in the field of overseas relief and I think we should involve the Council in support of child migration… it should not be allowed to disintegrate through having nothing to do… the Chairman is the Minister for External Affairs.

There is no evidence from this file what the Government decided on the issue.

A1066, ER45/6/8/7/7
Child Migration to Australia, 1944–45 [30 pages]
There is a news cutting on the Commonwealth Government's plan to take 51 000 child migrants soon after the war ended. There are also detailed 'Notes taken at a Conference of Commonwealth and State officials held at the Department of the Interior, Canberra on Tuesday, 9 January 1945'. Polish child migration had been broached, but in a note from Heydon to Peters, c. 6 March 1945, the former said that 'he believed the issue was dead until the matter of the future of the Polish Government was clarified'.
A1066, G45/1/25
Series: A434
Quantity: 12.45 metres
Recorded by: 1939: Department of the Interior [I] (CA 27); 1939–45: Department of the Interior [II] (CA 31); 1945–50: Department of Immigration (CA 51)
Polish Jewish Relief Fund: Migration of Children, 1937–42
This file contains photographs and reports on many individual Jewish child migrants.
A434, 1941/3/1039
Survey of State Organisations to deal with Youth Migration, 1946–49 [4 pages]
The principal folio is a letter from E M Hanlon, Queensland Premier, to Prime Minister J B Chifley, 25 September 1946. Hanlon recalls that the Premier's Conference, held recently, agreed to take a survey of the capacity of each organisation in each state to deal with youth migration. There is no such organisation in Queensland, the equivalent of the Big Brother Movement. Thus, for the time being, the State Migration Authority will exercise control over youth migration in Queensland and deal with individual applications for farm learners in association with the Child Welfare Department in Brisbane and the New Settlers League. At the subsequent Premier's Conference, 15 January 1947 the whole plan for a survey was abandoned, in view of the acute housing shortage in Australia, and the effects of conscription in the UK – 'the effects of this scheme on the migration of youths is as yet obscure' the premiers averred.
A434, 1949/3/25955
Series: CA211/2
Quantity: 23.94 metres
Recorded by: 1926–30: Development and Migration Commission (CA 243)
Voluntary Organisation Report by Mr T H Garrett on the activities of Voluntary Organisations in Migration to Australia. Fairbridge Farm, Salvation Army, Returned Soldiers League and Welfare Societies in Various States, 1926–30 CP211/2, bundle 98/NN
Series: A9306
Quantity: 2.9 metres
Recorded by: 1945–56: Australian Military Mission to Allied Control Council for Germany and Austria (West Berlin) (CA 8069)
Lutheran Church South Australia. Adoption of German Orphans, 1948–51 [c.200 pages]
A representative of the International Society of Quakers made an enquiry to the Australian Mission in Bonn soon after the war regarding the adoption of German orphans in Australia. This led the mission to request relevant Adoption of Children Acts from each state in the Commonwealth and advise 'In such matters as this in Australia, the states alone are competent'. Long delays followed while copies of the Acts were sent from Australia. These are included. Meanwhile, Department of External Affairs made enquiries to the Australian Military Mission in Berlin and was advised: 'very few German orphans are available who are not properly cared for'. In November 1948, the Immigration Department advised that Australia was willing to admit German orphans in principle but in practice nothing came of the proposal.
A9306, 352/4
Series: A446
Quantity: 3346.4 metres
Recorded by: 1953–74: Department of Immigration (CA 51); 1974–75: Department of Labor and Immigration (CA 1775); 1975–87: Department of Immigration and Ethnic Affairs [I] (CA 1955)
Child Migration. General policy, Part 1, 1943–45 [c.300 pages]
This is a first of seven comprehensive files which give an exhaustive overview of child migration policy from the perspective of the Immigration Department. There are many newspaper cuttings announcing and commenting on the Australian Government's new immigration policy, especially the proposal to bring 50 000 'war orphans' to Australia immediately after the cessation of hostilities. See: 'Jane' 'Matters of Opinion', Herald (Melbourne), 1 November 1943, 'Should not the choice be left to them (the children) until they are old enough to choose?' This was an atypical view at the time. There was mention of the successful integration of 20 Jewish children from Germany and Austria 'brought by the AJWS just before the outbreak of war' and placed in a house in Balwyn (Argus, Melbourne, 3 November 1943). Most commentators heartily approved the Government's plans for 17 000 children ('34 shiploads of children') per year for three years. Interestingly, in view of the discussions over the next three years, a Daily Telegraph columnist wrote, 10 January 1945:
I talked about child migration with several members of the Consular Corps. Their unanimous opinion was that child migration from Europe was just baloney.

There is an important 'five-page summary' on child migrant intake between the wars, dated 19 November 1943. It estimated that during the 1920s, total child and youth migration amounted to 2% of the assisted migrants who arrived in Australia, some 4 200 young people. Minutes on meeting of Sub-Committee on Child Migration, Inter-Departmental Committee on Immigration Policy, Canberra, 24 January 1944. Mrs C Kelly, six-page Confidential Report on Non-Government Migration Agencies performance also included. In correspondence between Government officials it is clear that they are aware (early 1944) of the shipping difficulty and the small numbers of children likely to be available, but in parliament 'there is so much advocacy for child migration on a large scale from the Opposition and on the Government-side', as R H Wheeler remarked to R L Peters, 16 June 1944. Report on plans to handle the proposed 50 000 'war orphans' on arrival in Australia. Copy of the Report of the Commonwealth Immigration Advisory Committee, 27 February 1946. At last, Government officials were aware that massive child migration to the nation was not a possibility. In lieu, the Government proposed 'to encourage those organisations already in existence which are used to handling child migration'.

A446, 1960/66716
Child Migration. General policy, Part 2, 1945–50 [c.400 pages]
The first significant item in this massive file is a memo from A R Nutt, Department of Immigration, referring to an interview with John Pittard, Director of the Child Welfare Department, Victoria (26 June 1945). Pittard opposed the policy of bringing 50 000 child migrants to Australia. He instanced cases where British child migrants (eg under the prewar Fairbridge farm school scheme), upon reaching early youth, bitterly resented the fact that they were sent to Australia in a more or less compulsory manner. Pittard saw many practical problems in its implementation also. There is a detailed examination of the Catholic hierarchy's scheme for child migration, submitted 21 May 1946, and prepared by Brother A Conlon for Archbishop Simmonds. The arrangements were considered favourably but there was no financial commitment. Calwell replied:
All questions relating to financial assistance to voluntary organisations must be governed by the decisions of the Premiers Conference.

There is an important summary of the Proceedings of a Conference of Commonwealth and State Officers, 16 and 17 December 1946. Meanwhile Mr W Garnett at the British High Commission had made it plain that a representative of the British Government would have to inspect any institutions where it was intended to place child migrants (5 December 1945). The shipping difficulty was paralysing migration plans and there is much evidence of Calwell's frustration. See correspondence, Calwell to Beasley, Australian High Commission, 9 January 1947. The priority was to move 1 500 child migrants to Australia – to Fairbridge, Northcote Farm School, Victoria and to Catholic homes in Western Australia. There are copies of LEM 3 – Form for Child Migrants and LEM 4 – Form for Youth Migrants and detailed correspondence concerning the procedures by which Australian orphanages became registered as 'approved institutions' for the reception of child migrants. There is material on proposals for the admission of German orphan children and the scheme proposed by Major J Cooper, Shaftesbury Homes, Queensland; Hansard extracts from the Senate debate on child migration, 28 October 1948; a copy of General Conditions of the Scheme for Settlement of British Children in New Zealand; a Study on the Distribution of Intelligence in Migrant Children; and a copy of the Regulations made under the Guardianship of Children Act 1946. The last item is a proposal of the Consul-General for Greece, 7 February 1950, concerning the introduction of Greek children and youths to Australia.

A446, 1960/66717
Child Migration. General policy, Part 3, 1946–51 [c.300 pages]
The first significant items concern the Immigration Department, under the Guardianship Act, dealing with problem cases concerning child or youth migrants. There was Mr S, a 'Little Brother' who was so grossly overweight that he was almost incapacitated for any work. He also suffered from epilepsy. The CMO, Sydney, sought medical advice and since it was believed that 'sooner or later he will become a charge on the public funds' the Big Brother Movement was requested to return him to the UK. This was done. There is correspondence regarding reception of child migrants from Malta for the Catholic homes in Western Australia. In May 1950, Mr R U Metcalfe, prepared a detailed study of the work of the Big Brother Movement since its inception, preparatory to a meeting of the Secretary, Immigration Department, with Big Brother Movement representatives. The issues discussed were: Australian Government's contribution to the Movement's London office; the maintenance of the children prior to their placement in employment; the hostel in Sydney for the reception of 'Little Brothers' destined for work in the city; the problems which had developed between the Big Brother Movement and the NSW Child Welfare Department and the proposed scholarships for 'Little Brothers' at the Hawkesbury Agricultural College. There is a good deal of material on the 'Standards/Selection' of child migrants debate in the bureaucracy and a copy of the controversial report The Distribution of Intelligence in Migrant Children at Certain Institutions, c. June 1950. In the wake of this, children at Fairbridge, Pinjarra were intelligence-tested and the results were more positive:
Overall only a little duller than a random group of children.

There is further correspondence on the proposals of the Overseas League to sponsor child migrants to Australia as it was doing to New Zealand and on the discussions to bring displaced young people from postwar Germany to Australia. Meanwhile, in Britain, the Home Office – opposed to child migration – was delaying approval to many Australian orphanages to receive British children. The file has a four-page summary of 'Proceedings held at the Planning Room, Immigration Department, Canberra, 23 November 1950'. The agenda items included: recognition of voluntary homes as 'approved institutions'; the (lack of) after-care when the child migrants graduated to the workforce; the planned Home Office regulations to control child migration; and payments to the voluntary organisations. There are a number of related newspaper cuttings.

A446, 1960/66718
Child Migration. General policy, Part 4, 1951–52 [c.300 pages]
There is discussion between officials of the need to further amend the Guardianship of Children Act and further discussion on the plan of the Overseas League to bring children to Australia. Only Tasmania among the states warmed to the idea, though in New Zealand the scheme appeared to be working well. However, in NZ many of the so-called 'child migrants' were being placed with relatives and friends. An important shade of Government policy is contained in the following comment:
The movement of children direct to private persons is the most promising, and at the same time, the most risky method of introducing child migrants. The (State) Child Welfare Departments are not prepared to assume responsibility for unsatisfactorily-placed children.

There is further comment on German refugee youth and Home Office Regulations with heavy emphasis on the latter. There is a detailed report of the discussion in Canberra with Mr P T Kirkpatrick, newly-appointed General Secretary of Barnardo's, 1 June 1951. The issues discussed were: Home Office child migration policy; finance; recent disturbances at Mowbray Park, Picton; and after-care. Meanwhile, the Big Brother Movement had applied for financial support for its London office and much correspondence ensued between interested parties. On 8 August 1951, Commonwealth Immigration Department officers met with senior departmental officers at the NSW Child Welfare Department and there is a detailed report: including discussions on inspections of the voluntary homes; the standards of the children; inspection of young men when placed in employment and exemption from the provisions of the Guardianship Act of older teenagers introduced by Jewish organisations. In NSW, tensions continued between the Big Brother Movement and the Child Welfare Department regarding after-care; the former claimed that association with Child Welfare lowered its image with employers. Apart from this, there are copies of the Minutes of the Commonwealth Immigration Advisory Council, 15 October 1951 and of John Moss's typed 25-page report, dated c. November 1951.

A446, 1960/66719
Child Migration. General policy, Part 5, 1952–53 [350 pages]
This continues with correspondence, memoranda, notes of conferences and discussions concerned with a variety of child migration issues. Sir Tasman Heyes was forced to comment yet again, 13 February 1952, on the hoary issue of 'European war orphans, introduction to Australia'. He wrote:
Departmental investigations reveal… one parent alive or some other relative caring for them… countries want to look after their own children… in some cases parents are living in unsatisfactory circumstances but do not want to part with their child.

Mr F H Ordish wrote on the same matter:

Large numbers of such orphans available in Europe would probably be medically unacceptable owing to disease, malnutrition, tuberculosis, mental instability, neurosis and other incapacities of a permanent nature. Many have been uncontrolled waifs on the streets for so long that from the circumstances in which they have been placed they would be problem children unresponsive to authority.

There are discussions over classes of exemptions from the workings of the Guardianship of Children Act 1946 and individual cases which caused the Department problems. On this, Mr R H Hicks, NSW Child Welfare Director wrote to Heyes, 5 March 1952:

I am becoming most concerned at the inordinate amount of time being taken up by breakdowns in child migration matters… out of all proportion to the time being devoted to general child welfare matters.

The Overseas League made another approach to the department to assist with placing child migrants but its efforts were politely rebuffed for the same reasons already outlined.

A446, 1960/66720
Child Migration. General policy, Part 6, 1953–54 [c.300 pages]
Adoption of child migrants and their original selection were key issues discussed at the Conference of Commonwealth and State officers held in Canberra, 13 August 1953. Other issues were the complicated situation which ensued sometimes when parents followed their children to Australia and the costs of maintaining the children in the homes. However, the correspondence shows that recruitment and selection remained vital for these two years. The CMO, Australia House, was urged to be more active in recruiting, actively assisting the voluntary organisations, especially to establish better relations with the local authorities, and overcome the widespread apathy in the UK towards the policy – even hostility in some quarters. On 2 October 1953, Father C Stinson and Monsignor G Crennan of the Federal Catholic Immigration Committee had detailed discussions with departmental officers, following Stinson's return from fifteen months recruiting in the British Isles, Malta and Italy. Topics discussed included the ubiquitous recruitment – 'boys could be found; situation with girls extremely difficult'; British opposition – 'no one in authority was over-enthusiastic about child migration'; and the situation in Malta. Some boys were coming to Western Australia, but public opinion in Malta did not favour sending girls. There is an important ten-page report on the 'Conference with members of the Council of Voluntary Organisations for Child Migration' held at Australia House, 20 October 1953. There were no Catholic representatives and this limited its effectiveness. Two problems were canvassed: (1) the need to establish continuity of flow of child migrants; (2) the standard and calibre of the children recruited. Fairbridge and the Lady Northcote Home were still getting many recruits; others less so. There are detailed reports of the Conference of Ministers in Melbourne, 5 October 1953. The question of increasing maintenance payments was discussed at great length, but there was no increase at this stage.
A446, 1960/66721
Child Migration, General policy, Part 7, 1954 –72 [c.350 pages]
The major events discussed are the visit of the British Fact-Finding Mission, 1956 and the subsequent rapid decline in the numbers of new child migrants arriving in Australia. Catholic child migration ended abruptly. Otherwise the perennial issues reappear – adoption, recruitment, 'the right type of child'. In addition, following the report of the British mission, a new emphasis appears: prodding the voluntary organisations to modernise their child care arrangements to keep abreast of modern developments. Newspaper reports from England and Australia on the mission's findings. There is a summary of the child migration scene, as at 24 April 1958, by Sir Tasman Heyes and its tone is pessimistic. Meanwhile, in Perth, the conviction of a former child migrant on a serious criminal charge awakened the argument from another angle, ie was Australia merely importing Britain's problem children? Senator D Tangney, Liberal, WA, supported the young immigrants. Fairbridge and Barnardo's kept a limited flow of children for some years, the former with its 'One-Parent' and 'Two-Parent' schemes backed by its prestige and the latter with its very extensive contacts in the UK from which to draw some youngsters. Correspondence suggests, however, that Government officials realised that the policy was increasingly irrelevant.
A446, 1960/66722
UK Fact-Finding Mission 1956, Part 1, 1955–56 [c.150 pages]
This file and its successor (described below) contain exhaustive material on the visit to Australia of the British Fact-Finding Mission in 1956, the first mention of which came in a letter from Australia House to R H Wheeler at the Immigration Department, 3 November 1955 which advised:
Meanwhile nothing is being said about the Mission to the voluntary societies in London.

Wheeler replied, 11 November 1955:

Just why such a mission should follow John Moss so closely is not indicated.

There is much correspondence around the proposed Mission's itinerary in Australia; a two-page summary of 'Subsidies to Voluntary Organisations'; 'Brief Notes on Approved Child and Youth Migrant Homes' and a number of newspaper cuttings. The file includes thorough 'Notes of the Conference with the Mission, Canberra', 9 February 1956, and the Mission makes it abundantly clear that its emphases included 'boarding out', 'training for carers' and 'the isolation of many of the Homes from the Australian community'. As the Mission moved around, State Child Welfare Department Heads, sent their impressions to Canberra. In Victoria, Child Welfare noted the Mission's attitude to Nazareth House, Camberwell:

While it is a modern, well-run establishment, it did not merit their approval because of its institutional-like organisation.

The Director, Child Welfare, Hobart commented:

The Mission did not appear to be very impressed with conditions at St. John Bosco Boys Town, due mainly to the attitude of the Superior and the lack of female influence in the Home.

Child migration is discussed from many angles. There is a copy of the Mission's published report, Child Migration to Australia. Report of a Fact-Finding Mission, Cmd. 9832, August 1956.

A446, 1960/66768
UK Fact-Finding Mission 1956, Part 2, 1956–57 [210 pages]
This complements (and partially duplicates) the previous file. However, this also covers the implementation of the Mission's report after its members had returned to Britain and the renewal of the Empire Settlement Act. After this was achieved, new agreements had to be made with each of the voluntary associations taking child migrants, since subsidies were paid by the British Government under these agreements.
A446, 1960/66767
Child Migration Statistics, 1956–79 [16 pages]
These statistics are not as useful for the study of child and youth migration as they might appear, since they concern all children brought to Australia since World War II and not merely unaccompanied young people. However, there is some useful material – eg on 22 August 1956, Australia House advised Heyes that some 80 000 to 100 000 British children had arrived in Australia with their parents. These youngsters were not the 'unaccompanied minors' for whom the term 'child migration' was coined, but they were children adding to Australia's population. The number of 'child and youth migrants' who had come unaccompanied to Australia, 1947–57, was 4 087. There is a pencilled list of 'child migrants' after 1960 but most of these would be young men brought to Australia by the Big Brother Movement, rather than primary school age children being admitted to 'approved institutions'.
A446, 1964/46668
Child migration from the UK – Agreement under Commonwealth and Empire Settlement Act between UK Government and the voluntary organisations, 1957–70 [c.50 pages]
There is a copy of the draft agreement to be made between the British Government and the voluntary organisations taking child migrants under the renewed Commonwealth Settlement Act, 1957–62. The key idea guiding the renewed agreements is contained in a letter from the Dominions Office to J D Fraser, Immigration Department, 7 May 1957 in which he advises:
It is our policy to renew agreements under the Empire and Commonwealth Settlement Acts, 1922–57, provided that the organisations undertake to modernise their methods of child care to bring their arrangements in Australia more into line with those accepted in this country.
A446, 1968/71967
Series: A9816
Quantity: 32.4 metres
Recorded by: 1943–50: Department of Post-War Reconstruction (CA 49)
Child Migration – correspondence from J C Nield, Koornong School, Victoria, 1944 A9816, 1944/312
Inter-Departmental Committee on Child Migration, 1944–46 A9816, 1944/589
Series: CP815.1
Quantity: 8.63 metres
Recorded by: 1944–50: Department of Information (CA 34)
Migration: Booklet for Evacuee Children. Part 1, 1945–46 CP815/1, bundle 24/021/05
Migration: Booklet for Evacuee Children. Part 2, 1946–48 CP815/1, bundle 24/021/05
Migration. Child Migration, 1943–49 [48 pages]
This contains a variety of material on child migration mainly from the earlier period around the end of World War II when various schemes were being canvassed, but no actual resumption had occurred. The emphasis is on the proposed Government scheme of introducing 50 000 children soon after the end of hostilities. There are also private offers to assist with the children, mention of the repatriation of CORB children to Britain, newspaper items, some from Britain announcing the Australian Government's plans.
CP815/1, bundle 25/021/19
Series: A445
Quantity: 22.5 metres
Recorded by: 1951–55: Department of Immigration (CA 51)
Empire Settlement Act, Proposed extensions to, 1936–48 [c.100 pages]
In November 1936, the British High Commission advised the Prime Minister's Department that the British Government was planning to extend the operation of the Empire Settlement Act for a further fifteen years. Prime Minister Joseph Lyons was attempting to resume assisted immigration but most State governments were lukewarm to this at best; hostile at worst. The principal amendments proposed for the renewal of the ESA were that maximum expenditure was fixed at £1,500,000 rather than £3,000,000 but the Bill would permit the UK Government to fund up to three-quarters of an agreed scheme entered into with a voluntary association, instead of the one-half under the existing Act. The file contains correspondence over the renewal of the 1922 Act; copies of the First Interim Report of the Oversea Settlement Board, July 1936; Cmd. 5326; 'Empire Settlement – Memorandum on Proposed Financial Resolution', HMSO, December 1936; Hansard (House of Commons), 19 January 1937 debate on the Amendment Bill; and other Hansard excerpts from both Houses of the British Parliament. There are also copies of certain agreements made under the renewed ESA with the Fairbridge Farm School, Molong and the Northcote Children's Emigration Fund.
A445, 103/17/2
Child Migration. Guardianship of Children Bill, Part 1, 1952 A445, 103/7/2 part 1
Schooling, Training and Employment of Child Migrants introduced to 'approved institutions', 1950–52 [43 pages]
The file contains inspectors' reports of the institutions and the focus is on the training of the inmates for future employment. There is a copy of the 'Agreement for Service with Board & Lodgings' and the Child Welfare Act 1947 (Sections 51 and 54). In April 1950 a four-man team inspected St Joseph's Farm and Trade School, Bindoon, with a view to placing the older boys in outside employment in the immediate future. There is a copy of the report and associated correspondence. It was this inspection which led to the formation of the 'Review Committee' to visit the 'approved institutions' twice a year to interview the older boys with a view to focusing their career options. There is an important memorandum (undated) written by Mr R U Metcalfe, c. June 1950 in which he comments:
The WA State Chief Migration Officer and the Under Secretary Lands and Immigration have, at Ministers and Officers Conferences in Canberra expressed concern at the action of several religious institutions of utilising child labour at the institutions on building and other work without any adequate remuneration to the older boys.

At Swan Homes, the inspectors found everything in order, assisted by the small numbers of child migrants in these homes. At Fairbridge, the Principal made it clear that 'any children retained on the staff of the school, would be, and were being paid, award rates of pay'. There is a three-page statement of policy, 'Migrant Children and Wards in Institutions, in respect of Schooling and Employment', dated 28 March 1952. This includes the interesting statement:

Before children are sent to employment they are to be informed (a) that although they were brought up in the Institutions, they are under the Legal Guardianship of the Secretary, Child Welfare Department… until the age of twenty-one.

After they received copies of the WA 'statement', Tasmania, South Australia and Queensland made comments on their policies on the same subjects.

A445, 133/3/5
Child Migration, Material for the Minister's Conference, 1953 A445, 133/3/11
John Moss, CBE – UK Child Expert. Visit to Australia, Part 1 1951 [c.200 pages]
John Moss was a County Welfare Officer in Kent for 40 years and a member of the seminal Curtis Committee on Child Welfare in 1944. In 1950 he was approaching retirement and wished to visit Australia. He offered his services to the Home Office to make an informal inspection tour of Australian institutions housing British child migrants. The Home Office accepted his offer because under the Children Act 1948 its officials had to prepare Regulations for the control of the voluntary migration agencies and Moss's report would provide information on certain homes on which the Home Office had few details. In the first item in the file, Sir Tasman Heyes, Immigration Department head in Canberra explains Moss's visit to the State Migration Officers (SMOs) and advises complete cooperation in his survey. From the British High Commission, Mr W Garnett advises Immigration Department, 24 April 1951 that Moss's report is wanted especially on Roman Catholic institutions. The file includes newspaper cuttings on the approaching visit and an important 25-page summary of a meeting between Moss and Mr R U Metcalfe, Child Migration Officer, in Canberra, 24 & 25 October 1951. This is the first of four files of John Moss's inspection of Australian homes.
A445, 133/3/6
John Moss, CBE – UK Child Expert. Visit to Australia, Part 2, 1951–52 [c.200 pages]
This is a continuation of material related to Moss's visit and the issues taxing officials at the time over child migration: appropriate age for child migrants; the arrangements on the immigration vessels; Home Office regulation. The first item is another copy of the 25-page 'Notes on Discussion', the last item of the previous file. In addition, there are newspaper cuttings on Moss's visit; the itinerary for the WA phase of his inspection and an enthusiastic report by Miss M G Coultas on her child migrant party; she was the Senior Escort on The New Australia which left Southampton. There is a draft copy of Moss's report, sent to R H Wheeler at the Immigration Department, 20 February 1952. Heyes noted to Moss that 'You have taken your task very seriously'.
A445, 133/3/7
John Moss, CBE – UK Child Welfare Expert – Visit to Australia, 1952–54 [c.150 pages]
John Moss proved an enthusiastic supporter of child migration, his views crystallising around the 'fresh start' and 'prospects' view of the process for deprived youth. Moss was a lawyer, not a social worker. The Australian Government hoped to use his anticipated report to gain more children for Australia from 'Local Authority' care in Britain. The first item in the file is the transcript of a talk Moss gave on radio 2BL, 17 March 1952, in which he refers to rationing in Britain of 'meat, cheese and butter' – seven years after the war. Copies of articles written by Moss for the British Weekly and Journal of the County Councils Association praising child migration are here, together with letters he had written to British newspapers. There were delays in publishing his report. When finally the report emerged, Moss wrote to Wheeler, 14 October 1953:
It must seem rather odd that a report made in June 1952 is published in October 1953.

There is a copy of Moss's report in the file.

A445, 133/3/8
John Moss Report on Child Migration – Implementation of Recommendations, 1953–54 [c.100 pages]
Moss's recommendations were clear, precise and specific and the Australian Government took their implementation seriously. The first item is a letter from the Immigration Department, Canberra to state Child Welfare Department directors summarising Moss's recommendations and urging action to implement them. Correspondence between Canberra and the various child migration agencies urging action along similar lines: admittance of Australian children to the homes taking only child migrants; the move from large institutions to cottage homes; the need for detailed case histories from parent bodies in the UK; pocket money, fostering and adoption.
A445, 133/3/13
Series: D1918
Quantity: 1.46 metres
Recorded by: 1942–46: Investigation Branch, South Australia (CA 905); 1946–60: Commonwealth Investigation Service (SA) (CA 914)
Commonwealth Immigration Advisory Council. Assimilation of migrant children into the Australian community, 1959–60 D1918, S3045
Series: D400
Quantity: 435 metres
Recorded by: 1948–66: Department of Immigration, SA Branch (CA 959)
Child migration approved institutions statistics, 1953–58 D400, SA1954/1173
Child migration – Visit by UK Fact-Finding Mission, 1956, 1955–57 D400, SA1955/8761
Assisted Migration – Triestian parties of youths, Catholic Immigration Committee, 1955 D400, SA1955/321
Inquiry into conduct and progress of Migrant Children, 1959–61 D400, SA1959/3095
Assisted Migration Escorts for Children, 1950–55 D400, SA1961/1137
Series: D401
Quantity: 1 metre
Recorded by: 1946–48: Department of Immigration, SA Branch (CA 959)
Child migration overseas league scheme, 13/5/1948–21/8/1950 D401, SA1948/5/179
Series: D1989
Quantity: 4.5 metres
Recorded by: 1947–51 Department of Immigration, SA Branch (CA 959)
Application for Child Migration, 'Ormonde', Johnstone, Kathleen or Cathie or Catherine, 19/1/1949 D1989, NN
Johnstone, Mary (Application for Child Migration) 19/1/1949, 'Ormonde' D1989, NN
M M Benstead – Application to migrate to Australia under the child migration scheme, 1944 – 1947 D1989, NN
Series: PP6/1
Quantity: 20 metres
Recorded by: 1926–45: Collector of Customs, WA (CA 808); 1945–50: Department of Immigration, WA Branch (CA 962)
Care of Child Migrant. Statement by United Kingdom Home Office. Inspectors Reports on Foster Parents, 1949–51 PP6/1, 1947/H/2590
Immigration Act (Child Migration) – Custodians – Immigration (Guardianship of Children) Act, 1946–48 PP6/1, 1949/H/2246
Child Migration – Group Scheme, Claims for British Government Subsidy, 1947–50 PP6/1, 1948/H/156
Child migration – Training and employment of migrant children, 1950–51 PP6/1, 1950/H/4051
Approved Institutions. Transfer of Displaced Persons, minors, 1950 PP6/1, 1950/H/4191
Series: CA 436
Quantity: 5.04 metres
Recorded by: 1945: Department of the Interior (II) (CA 31); 1945–50: Department of Immigration (CA 51)
Farm Schools – General, 1935–40 [c.200 pages]
As the grim unemployment situation of the Depression years improved by 1935, there were moves to recommence assisted immigration. Child and youth migration were the most popular faces of state-subsidised immigration. Farm schools remained in vogue and the file follows Government policy as various groups planned to build new farm schools. In the first item, Mr T Patterson, Minister for the Interior, wrote 24 September 1935, to Prime Minister J A Lyons:
I formed the opinion at Pinjarra, WA that the Fairbridge Farm School was the finest example of successful migration work that I had ever seen.

There is correspondence on this and on the plans of a Committee of NSW Rhodes Scholars to build a new Farm School in the state; and on the move to use Lady Northcote's generous legacy to construct a farm school on Fairbridge principles in Victoria. Hansard reports of 1935 debates in both the Senate and House of Representatives are included. They show that the mood against immigration was still strong, despite the popularity of the farm school ideal. Many newscuttings are included – especially from the Sydney Morning Herald supporting Fairbridge and publicising plans to extend the scheme at Molong, via Orange in the state. There is correspondence regarding a farm school in Tasmania. The file makes plain that governments were prepared to offer Fairbridge and the Lady Northcote Home, Glenmore, Victoria more assistance by way of capital grants and maintenance payments than were to be available to other child migration organisations. The triumphal mood is captured in reports of the Fairbridge Annual General Meeting in London, April 1937. Mr R G (later Lord) Casey referred to Fairbridge 'performing a great imperial task'; Lord Hartington, Under Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs, added that 'the British Empire was the only hope for the preservation of world civilisation'.

A436, 1946/5/8
Child Migration Scheme with the United Kingdom, 1956–58 A436, 1956/1110
Child Migration – New Education Fellowship Scheme, 1945–46 A436, 1948/5/6021
Bishop of Lismore – Proposals – Child Migration, 1946 A436, 1948/5/2593
Child Migration Organisations in Australia – Survey by Mrs C Kelly, 1944–45 A436, 1945/5/54
Child Migration Scheme Administration – Applications for Appointments, 1944–46 [63 pages]
This contains applications from interested citizens seeking positions in the Immigration Department or to assist in the child migration program, often as welfare officers. There are replies, usually non-committal, from the Minister of the Interior, that if and when a vacancy occurs or a new position is created, the offer will be considered. This follows publication of the Government's plans for a new immigration policy of which child migration was to be a central feature.
A436, 1945/5/57
Premier of Tasmania – Proposals Child Migration, 1944 [10 pages]
This file contains a plan submitted by Tasmanian Premier, Mr R Cosgrove, for a child migration plan in view of the widespread public discussion of immigration policy after the war. Apart from the plan there is only one piece of correspondence, from J S Collings MP, Minister for the Interior, saying that Cosgrove's plan would be forwarded to the Inter-Departmental Committee on Migration Policy for assessment. Cosgrove suggested that a Department of Child Migration be established, and that cottage homes on Fairbridge lines, attached to Tasmanian Area Schools, could be used to house the young immigrants. The plan reflects the romantic aura child migration had at this period.
A436, 1945/5/37
Series: J25
Quantity: 1652.67 metres
Recorded by: 1946–74: Department of Immigration, Qld Branch (CA 958)
Child Migration, 1947–52 [c.200 pages]
This is a substantial file from the State Migration Office, Queensland. Much of the material concerns the 1948 plans of the Overseas League in London to develop child migration into private Australian families, rather than to institutions. The League was advocating what was outside long-standing Government policy. Sir Tasman Heyes outlined the Government's objections to the Overseas League scheme in an important letter to the CMO, Brisbane, 24 July 1948. Heyes stressed that 'the children may not come up to the expectations of the nominators' and the League had no facility in either the Britain or Australia to form a base for its proposed activities. There is correspondence on the arrival of youths in Australia under the 'Displaced Persons Scheme' by the Jewish Welfare Guardian Society; of young women arriving from Eire to be trained as Sisters of Mercy; and of 'Russian Orphan Children' arriving in Queensland via an orphanage in Shanghai, China. There is mention of the visits of Miss Harrison of the Scottish Home Office, and Mr J Moss of the Home Office in London to institutions in Queensland taking child migrants. In 1950, Mr D C Kinloch of the Overseas League made a second attempt to interest the Immigration Department in his child migration scheme, without success.
J25, 1950/946
Child Migration – General, 1955–57 [c.200 pages]
This file contains material on the UK Fact-Finding Mission, 1956, from the perspective of Queensland Immigration Department officials. Since relatively few child migrants were placed in the state, the mission would spent only six days, visiting principally Riverview (Salvation Army) and Neerkol, Rockhampton (Catholic). There were 27 child migrants at Neerkol, and 57 youths had passed through Riverview since resumption of child migration. In February 1956, the mission met executives of the voluntary organisations and Government representatives for separate meetings in Brisbane; and later visited the homes. At Neerkol:
in the evening [they] met UK migrant youths and girls who had been through the Home and were now either employed in the town or boarding at secondary schools in the district. Both at Riverview and Neerkol members had private talks with UK migrant children

(Nulty to Heyes, 2 March 1956). The file contains newspaper cuttings relative to the visit, a set of the minutes of the major conference in Canberra, 9 February 1956, with Australian Immigration Department officials and a copy of the Report of the Fact-Finding Mission: Child Migration to Australia, Cmd. 9832. HMSO, 1956.

J25, 1955/18737
Series: C3939
Quantity: 38.7 metres
Recorded by: 1952–74: Department of Immigration, NSW Branch (CA 957)
Child Migration. Group Nominations, Box 2, 1952–57 C3939, N1955/25/75323
Child Migration of Orphans from Italy, Box 549, 1961 C3939, N1961/75238
Survey of Accommodation Available in Approved Institutions for Child Migrants, 1953–62 C3939, N1955/25/75054
Series: K403
Quantity: 49.56 metres
Recorded by: 1959–73: Department of Immigration, WA Branch (CA 962)
Child Migration: Inquiry into the conduct and progress of migrant children, 1958–62 [c.250 pages]
This concerns the 'Migrant Children School Survey', 1959. The Committee of which Mr Justice Dovey was Chairman included Dr J R Darling, Mr A Monk, Hon. P J Cleary, Mrs J Norris and Mr A J Lee. Side by side with this committee, the Child Welfare Minister in Western Australia appointed a committee to investigate the prevention of juvenile delinquency and associated problems. The former committee was not focused on child and youth migrants in any particular way, but the WA committee was. Western Australia was the only state in which the number of child migrants was such that they could be seen as posing special problems. There had been a number of well-publicised cases in which former child migrants were involved. Dovey's report was due for presentation at the 1960 Citizenship Convention. There is a copy of this report 'First Report on the Progress and Assimilation of Migrant Children in Australia' in the file. There are also the 1958 Annual Reports from the Commissioner of Police (WA) and the Child Welfare Department in that state. The latter included the useful information that 'Up until 30 June 1958, 1442 migrant children arrived in the state, of whom (over time) thirteen had been repatriated to the UK and nine were deceased'. Dr Darling had investigated the situation in WA and a short outline of his impressions is included. He wrote of the Child Welfare:
I am not desperately impressed by the quality of service rendered special migrant problems… children in, or from institutions, especially Roman Catholic institutions.

The problems of children from Catholic institutions, he said, stemmed from: (a) the nationality of the children – Italian and Maltese; (b) the very high proportion of very low IQs among the children; (c) the isolation of the sexes in the institutions; and (d) the lack of after-care. The Director Catholic Episcopal Migration and Welfare Association expressed resentment at the findings.

K403, W59/57
Child migration – child and youth organisations financial assistance and capital grants policy, 1952–61 [9 pages]
The file is constructed around a request from the Immigration Department, Canberra, 9 July 1952 to CMO Perth to provide particulars of the capacity of the state's 'approved Homes' to receive more child migrants. This request followed a Conference of Commonwealth and State Officers, during which Agenda Item 20 concerned the need 'for a survey of available accommodation in voluntary child migrant institutions'. A clear chart of the situation in Western Australia is provided – 31 August 1952.
K403, W59/58
Child migration, Overseas League, 1948–50 [c.50 pages]
The Overseas League (based in London) offered to arrange for Australian families to foster British children, but the Australian Government did not favour this form of child migration, though the League was able to manage a viable scheme in New Zealand. D C Kinloch, a senior League member, toured Australia in 1948 promoting their particular version of child migration, ie children selected by the League from ordinary poor families in Britain to be placed in foster care in Australia. The Immigration Department did not like the scheme. Key problems were: what would happen to the children if the original nominators or custodians could not, or would not, continue to fulfil their obligations; and what were the financial costs to the Government? In essence, the Government suggested that the Overseas League link its plans with one of the 'approved organisations' already in the field. All the correspondence in the file concerns this scheme which did have some success in New Zealand. However, in New Zealand, the majority of the children fostered were placed with relatives and most of the children were over fourteen years of age on acceptance – an age group already catered for on the Australian scene by the Big Brother Movement.
K403, W59/59
Child migration. Equipment and establishment allowance – policy, 1956–61 [23 pages]
The file concerns the equipment allowance which was paid by the Commonwealth Government to allow the homes to outfit child migrants before they entered the work force. In 1956 this allowance was raised from £5 to £10. Meanwhile, in 1961, with few child migrants arriving, Fairbridge, Pinjarra was considering the idea of introducing youth migrants under the Big Brother Movement to Western Australia. On 30 November 1961, the Immigration Department indicated that its WA Branch could pay £20 per 'Little Brother' introduced to the state by the Fairbridge Farm School.
K403, W59/61
Child migration – education and training of children, 1950–52 [18 pages]
The file focuses on the training and employment of child migrants at St Joseph's Farm and Trade School, Bindoon, following a thorough report on each boy after an inspection by three departmental officers, 14 April 1950. Their five-page evaluation appears in many departmental files. The officers noted that they had visited Bindoon one year previously and made recommendations which were not followed. As a result, the 'Review Committee' was established to visit each institution twice a year and interview each child fourteen years and over regarding career training. The committee would recommend a date for discharge from the institution.
K403, W59/62
Child migration – foster parents and adoption, 1947–54 [17 pages]
This file is poorly titled. It concerns – in the main – the question of adoption by WA citizens of UK child migrants residing in the state. However, the first item – five pages – is an important summary of new developments on the care of deprived children in Britain which will affect child migration. Garnett, W (Official Secretary, British High Commission) to Heyes, 18 October 1947. There is a Home Office statement on the principles which should guide juvenile migration.
K403, W59/63
Child migration – legal guardianship of unassisted migrants, 1950–64 [47 pages]
This file contains much technical legal correspondence concerning the scope of the Guardianship of Children Act 1946 to control certain situations which arise, eg the arrival of young women almost eighteen years of age, who have been nominated by their fiance already settled in Australia. The second example discussed in detail is the possibility of deporting a former child migrant who has committed a serious criminal offence while he is still a legal minor 'since it is considered that he will probably continue to lead a life of crime and that his deportation is in the public interest' – 11 June 1957.
K403, W59/64
Child migration – group nominations, 1951 [1 page]
A memorandum notes that some children are being recruited in Britain by representatives of the Australian voluntary organisations before their homes are declared 'approved institutions'. Arrangements to deal with this; more communication required.
K403, W59/65
Child migration – birth certificates, 1953 [1 page]
This file contains a single piece of correspondence from Sir Tasman Heyes to the Director of the Child Welfare Department, Perth, 25 May 1953 concerning birth certificates of child migrants:
Former child migrants are often required to show birth certificates… for entry to the public service, before enlistment in the armed services and for some employers.

These had to be arranged with the Chief Migration Officer in London and were to accompany the children to Australia.

K403, W59/66
Child migration – farm learners scheme, 1953 [2 pages]
Agenda Item No 7 of the Commonwealth and State Ministers Conference in Melbourne, 5 October 1953, had referred to 'Introduction of a Farm Learners Scheme' presumably in Western Australia since, it was noted, that the Big Brother Movement 'is doing a good job in this regard'. The item may have been prompted by Father Stinson, Director, Catholic Episcopal Migration and Welfare Association in Perth who had advised after fifteen months in Europe that 'lads over sixteen years could be more readily found than youngsters under twelve years'. There was no action on the matter.
K403, W59/67
Child migration – mixing of sexes, 1954 [2 pages]
In his report, John Moss advised mixing the sexes in cottage homes maintained by the (Anglican) Swan Homes and the Fairbridge Farm School at Pinjarra – to approximate family living. The Child Welfare Department, Perth opposes this plan, 5 February 1954: 'the children are graded in accordance with their age and sex; they mingle at all other times, at play, at meals and at entertainments. This is the most practical way to conduct cottage homes'.
K403, W59/68
Child migration – pocket money, 1954 [5 pages]
The Moss Report on Child Migration recommended that the children in each institution be given regular pocket money to spend as they choose. The file concerns the request from the Child Welfare Department, Director, Perth to the 'approved Homes' to provide relevant information. Six months passed. It is noted that Fairbridge and the Methodist homes had provided detailed information on pocket money; the Swan Homes and the Catholic Episcopal Migration and Welfare Association had ignored the request.
K403, W59/69
Child migration – arrivals – placements in institutions, 1953–60 [74 pages]
This file contains statistics concerning the number of child migrants and their placements in various institutions. Some of the statistics cover the whole of Australia but the main focus is on Western Australia. The first item is a chart: 'Placement of migrant children in institutions on arrival in WA as from 30–5–52 to 21–6–53'. There is some comment on the figures, but not much; the emphasis is on the charts themselves. There is a useful summary of 'Joint Government Financial Assistance' (1953). The last chart in the file contains the numbers of children in WA homes as of March 1960.
K403, W59/71
Child migration – maintenance payments, 1952–62 [49 pages]
The correspondence in the file concerns the changing financial arrangements between the governments involved in child migration and the voluntary organisations, the custodians of the children. Some of the material deals with rare cases: eg some child migrants were in receipt of military pensions; could this money be used for their maintenance? (No). Would the UK subsidy be available to foster parents if and when a child was boarded out? (Yes). There was a crisis in 1960 when the WA Minister for Child Welfare decided unilaterally to end his state's subsidy for children entering institutions after 1 September 1960. Much paperwork on this matter. Eventually the Commonwealth persuaded the State Government to pay most of its regular maintenance to the institutions for new child migrant arrivals in Western Australia.
K403, W59/74
Child migration – subsidies – British Government, 1947–61 [39 pages]
In the first item, Mr A R Peters, Immigration Department, Canberra, 24 July 1947 outlines for his counterpart in Perth the current payments to the voluntary organisations taking child migrants:
I refer to the decisions of the Premiers' Conference held in Canberra on 20 August 1946, at which all states agreed to pay 3/6 per week per child up to the age of 14 years, for the maintenance of child and youth migrants and to continue to pay this amount up to the age of 16 years, providing that the child is still at school. These contributions were to be paid subject to the Commonwealth paying child endowment and the United Kingdom Government continuing its contribution at the rate of 5/- (stg.) per week.

All the correspondence in the file – together with payment charts – refers to variations in this basic arrangement – over the years – due to inflation in the 1950s.

K403, W59/75
Child Migration – countries – Italy, 1959–84 [8 pages]
In July 1959, Monsignor G Crennan, National Director of the Federal Catholic Immigration Committee, raised the possibility of child migration from Italy to the Catholic institutions in Western Australia. He was speaking with departmental officers in Perth prior to visiting Europe on immigration business. The Child Welfare Department in Perth was not enthusiastic about the proposal; the costs of maintaining child migrants were rising and 'in addition the after-care has fallen heavily on departmental officers' its Director noted. In the end, nothing came of Monsignor Crennan's suggestion, and no Italian child migrants came to Australia under the scheme.
K403, W59/299
Series: K47
Quantity: 2986 metres
Recorded by: 1955–74: Department of Immigration, WA Branch (CA 962); 1974–75: Department of Labor and Immigration, WA (CA 2318); 1975–87: Department of Immigration and Ethnic Affairs [I], WA (CA 2328)
Assisted migration, British child migrants scheme, 1947–61 K47, 1959/845
Child migration – General transfer of guardianship, 1959–78 K47, 1959/995
Children (general child migration). United Kingdom Government mission investigations in Australia, 1955–58 K47, 1959/1000
There are only three folios relevant to child or youth migration. Overall there are forms for group nominations under the free and assisted passage agreements. Five boys – 14 February 1952 – training in farm work, 'Burton Hall', Tatura. 'Burton Hall' was approved as a voluntary child migration organisation. The Church of England Advisory Council of Empire Settlement in the UK was asked to suggest suitable boys for nomination. In addition, mention is made of six boys, 5–12 years old, for St John's Home for Boys, Canterbury – an approved voluntary child migration organisation. Another folio mentions a further three boys for 'Burton Hall', Tatura.
Series: MP541/3
Quantity: 0.54 metres
Recorded by: 1947–59: Department of Immigration, Victorian Branch (CA 961)


Chapter notes | All notes

19 NAA: A2, 1915/1803, Immigration – Proposals by the Millions Club.

20 M Roe, Australia, Britain and Migration, 1915-1940: A Study of Desperate Hopes, Cambridge University Press, 1995, p. 181.

21 Public Record Office, Kew: DO 57/189.

22 Public Record Office, Kew: Whiskard to Dominions Office, 16 September 1936, DO114/74.

23 NAA: A461, A349/1/7 Part 1, Immigration – Child Migration – General.


Chapter 3
Guide to the Records