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Research Guides


Good British Stock: Child and Youth Migration to Australia


The Roman Catholic Church

Child migration to Canada was a regular, but small-scale feature of Catholic 'rescue' for deprived British children from 1872. The emigration to Canada continued until the Depression in 1930. When the Canadian government finally refused entry to unaccompanied children, Catholic carers saw Australia as a possible destination for the youngsters.

Father J Nugent of Liverpool headed the first Catholic organisation to send children to Canada. He made arrangements through parish priests to place the children with local families in Quebec and Ontario. In 1874, Cardinal Manning started the 'Crusade of Rescue' within the Archdiocese of Westminster and under Father Richard Seddon children were sent to the eastern townships of Quebec and the Ottawa area. In another part of London, Father A Douglas, Manager of St Vincent's Orphanage, placed some of his older boys in the prairie provinces of Saskatchewan and Alberta.

In 1899, Catholic child migration was coordinated from the Westminster 'Crusade of Rescue' and a central receiving institution, St George's Home, was established in Montreal and managed by the Sisters of Charity. The home provided the focus for juvenile emigration until it was closed in 1935. Overall, some 5 000 children were sent to Canada by Catholic organisations during the heyday of child emigration, about 5–8% of the total.

In Australia Catholic interest in juvenile migration came late, after the successful work already commenced by the Dreadnought Trust, Barnardo's, Fairbridge and the Big Brother Movement. It was associated with the founding of the Knights of the Southern Cross in Perth in 1922 as a Catholic counterpart to the Freemason Lodge. One of the Knights' objectives was increasing Catholic migration to Western Australia, and more specifically child immigration.

In 1926, the Knights' executive found ready support from Brother Paul Keaney, the newly-appointed Director of the Clontarf orphanage near Perth. Brother Keaney with financial support from the Knights, planned a farm school at Tardun near Mullewa, west of Geraldton, to cater for the farm training of older Australian boys in care and also for British child migrants. Keaney's plans were not successful at this stage: the Director of the 'Crusade of Rescue' in Britain, Father Hudson, was unwilling to change his long-standing arrangements for sending children to Canada, and in Australia the Commonwealth government was not prepared to provide a subsidy on Fairbridge lines.

However, the farm school at Tardun was established for local youth in care after an epic pioneering struggle in the depth of the Depression. Meanwhile, Canada refused entry to unaccompanied children and Catholic carers in Britain were more responsive to placing some of their children in Australia. As economic conditions improved during the mid-1930s, assisted immigration revived. Farm schools were in vogue. The Fairbridge mystique was widely acclaimed.

By this time, the Christian Brothers were managing child care for Catholic boys and young men in four coordinated institutions, at Clontarf and Castledare orphanages in the suburbs of Perth, at the farm school at Tardun and on the new property at Bindoon, one hundred kilometres north of Perth, a property recently donated to the Order by a wealthy benefactor. It seemed relatively easy to integrate child migrants from Britain within the four orphanages according to their ages and talents. The British, Commonwealth and Western Australian governments were willing to assist with maintenance of the children.

In this situation, the Western Australian bishops arranged for Brother A Conlon to proceed to London to negotiate for one hundred child migrants with the British Catholic Rescue Societies in 1938. Conlon's task took longer than he anticipated, but over 1938–39 some three groups of boys, 114 in all, sailed for Western Australia to be educated and trained within the Christian Brothers four orphanages, collectively referred to as 'the Scheme'. While he was in Europe, Brother Conlon explored the possibilities of bringing Maltese children to Western Australia, but negotiations broke down at this stage. There were also tentative arrangements to bring a party of girls to the Nazareth Sisters Home in Geraldton, WA but the outbreak of war in September 1939 placed those plans on hold for the duration.

As has been mentioned before, during the war a transformation occurred in Australia's immigration policy, and in the new mass migration plans, child migration figured prominently. Catholic Church leaders – late arrivals on the Australian juvenile migration scene – responded to government policy with the fervour and dedication of recent converts. A few months before Arthur Calwell's August 1945 launch of the government's revitalised immigration policy, Bishop Gummer of Geraldton wrote to the Prime Minister requesting permission to renew child migration to the Tardun scheme and to Nazareth House, Geraldton. The Prime Minister's Department advised Gummer to inquire in six months time when the war might be over and the migration scene clarified. However, the letter mentioned the 'extreme shortage of shipping', the housing problem in Australia and the priority of repatriating ex-Service personnel.

In the heady enthusiasm for immigration, Archbishop Prendiville wrote to Cardinal Griffin in London offering to take 2 500 British orphans into the Western Australian Catholic orphanages during the first eighteen months of peace. The Colonial Office, the Australian government and the Christian Brothers were appalled at the suggestion of such ridiculous figures. However, the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference arranged with the Christian Brothers to allow Brother Conlon to accompany Archbishop Simmonds to Europe in April 1946: Simmonds to explore the possibilities of bringing large numbers of war orphans from devastated continental Europe to Australia, and Conlon to arrange a lift of British child migrants to the Tardun scheme. The Immigration Department funded the exercise.

Conlon arrived in London months before either the British government or the Catholic agencies were in a position to negotiate seriously. There were no ships available to transport migrants to Australia. A frustrating sixteen months passed during which Simmonds realised there were no appreciable numbers of war orphans from Europe to be obtained, and Conlon arranged the first postwar lift of 340 child migrants to Western Australia. Both men realised that there were relatively few youngsters in a changing Britain suitable for child migration.

During this 1946–47 trip to Europe, both Archbishop Simmonds and Brother Conlon visited Malta to explore the migration possibilities: the Archbishop to explore the overall migration scene and Conlon to arrange juvenile immigration. Eventually some 280 to 300 child migrants were to come to Western Australia from Malta between 1950 and 1965. Meanwhile the arrival of over 300 child migrants to Western Australia in 1947 filled the available spaces in the Catholic homes and for three years few children arrived under Catholic auspices. However, as the first arrivals graduated to the work force after 1950, the Catholic authorities made exceptional efforts during the years 1950–56 to recruit further youngsters to Catholic orphanages around the country. However, most went to Western Australia.

After this exceptional effort and enthusiasm for child migration after World War II, it is ironic that Catholic child migration from Britain terminated quite suddenly in 1956, though children already in the Australian homes stayed until their graduation. Changing styles of child care had made little or no impact on the large Catholic institutions managed by volunteer church workers, none of whom had any social work qualifications. The Home Office was aware of this and urged British carers to move towards fostering for deprived Catholic children. The crisis came in 1956 during the visit of the Fact-Finding Mission which was already opposed to child migration in principle and out of sympathy with institutional care.

The Mission produced a bland public report, but its more confidential notes were made available to interested parties in Britain, though not to the Australian government. Australian child care was deemed backward, and Catholic child care unsuitable for British children. Physical and sexual abuse was not the issue. Institutionalisation and untrained carers were the problem; the answer was foster care, and so during the next few years most deprived Catholic children were fostered, and no more British Catholic children were sent to Australia.

Youth migration through Catholic agencies was also a post-World War II development and some one hundred young men were sponsored to Victoria by the Young Catholic Workers Movement. In addition, the director of the Federal Catholic Immigration Committee, Monsignor G Crennan, arranged for some young refugees living in Austrian and Italian camps, escapees from Communist-dominated eastern Europe, to settle in Australia.

After World War II, child migration under Catholic auspices approached one-half of the total number of children brought to Australia. The volume of records in the National Archives reflects this reality and the coverage is comprehensive. However, it does need to be stressed that over the last ten years while there have been searing controversies regarding some Catholic orphanages during the child migration era, there is only a little here which bears on these controversies. No file contains material on the sexual abuse issue, since the matter was not raised at the time in such a way that comments were recorded in the written records, at the national level. Otherwise, former residents, family historians and specialists will find much relevant material in these files.

There were three principal Catholic orders associated with child migration in Australia. The Christian Brothers were founded in 1802 in Waterford, Ireland by a former businessman, Edmund Rice. Rice had been born in 1762, apprenticed to his uncle's wholesale provision business as a teenager, and married in his early twenties. His wife died in childbirth leaving him with a mentally-retarded daughter and during the following years his mind turned to establishing a society of religious brothers for the education of poor boys. Rice's first school was established in 1802 and by the time of his death in 1844 there were one hundred brothers managing schools in the British Isles, Gibraltar and New South Wales. Thereafter, the order grew rapidly numbering almost 4 000 members in the early 1960s, with a large presence in Catholic education in Ireland, Australasia and North America. In the 1990s there were some 500–600 Christian Brothers in Australia and 1 700 worldwide.

The Sisters of Mercy were founded in 1831 in Dublin, Ireland by Catherine McAuley with the objective of 'a most serious application to the instruction of poor girls, visitation of the sick, and protection of distressed women of good character'. The order grew rapidly and became the largest women's religious order in the English-speaking world, with a substantial presence in Great Britain and Australia, being numbered in the thousands.

The Poor Sisters of Nazareth were established in London in 1851 by Mother St Basil (Victoire Larmenier, 1827–78) under the patronage of Cardinal Wiseman. The original group of sisters left France to begin work in England at the Cardinal's request. Their objective was care of the aged, together with the care and education of underprivileged infants and children. Their headquarters are at Hammersmith in London. Numbers in the order peaked in the 1960s with over 1 000 sisters working in the British Isles, the United States, Australia and South Africa. In the 1990s the order numbered 400–500 sisters.

CORRESPONDENCE FILES, ANNUAL SINGLE NUMBER SERIES, 1903–38
Canberra
Series: A1
Quantity: 337.14 metres
Recorded by: 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)
Catholic Immigration Society, NSW, 1928–30 [c.100 pages]

This concerns an abortive plan to introduce Catholic youths from the UK into the rural NSW Diocese of Lismore in the years just prior to the Depression, on the model of the Big Brother Movement. On 10 January 1929, Father (later Bishop) T B McGuire, the Vicar-General, requested from the clergy the names of prospective employers for the proposed youth migrants. The Australian High Commission cabled the Prime Minister's Department to encourage the initiative, which was receiving support from the Catholic Emigration Society (UK) and from Father Martindale's recent mission to Australia. It noted that 'as a general rule, the Roman Catholic bishops in the UK are opposed to migration'. In Melbourne, a memorandum of the Development and Migration Commission noted, 31 January 1929, that:

Father William Nicol, Mullumbimby via Lismore had said the Catholic people of the area could absorb 500 domestics and 250 'boys'. In the past the Catholic community has not taken any active part in migration matters and it is thought that this initiative presented a favourable opportunity of enlisting their cooperation not only now but more particularly for the future… I think an expenditure of £250 on a project of this kind (a recruiting trip to the UK for Father William Nicol) would be worthwhile if it resulted in the Catholic Church being allied with us in our migration.

The government did not wish to involve the churches in support of assisted migration. Father Nicol was booked to leave for London on theOrmonde, 20 July 1929, the British and Australian governments sharing the cost of his fare. However, Britain and Australia were drifting into recession and in view of 'the unsettled condition of employment generally' the plans to recruit young men for work in the Lismore diocese were cancelled, and so was Father Nicol's trip to London. After World War II, Father Nicol was to become the Australian bishops' representative in the UK, 1949–53.

A1, 1932/7362
Catholic Immigration, Queensland, 1929 [28 pages]

The Hon. Secretary, Catholic Immigration Society of Queensland, a body which had been largely inactive for some years, wrote to the Development and Migration Commission in Melbourne, 20 August 1929, 'to obtain any rules which could govern a body like ours'. A week later, Mr J Mulvaney reported to the DMC on a recent trip to Queensland to stimulate youth migration. Mulvaney had met with Catholic migration representatives. He wrote:

There were in all about twelve persons, in addition to two boys for farm work who had that morning arrived in Brisbane under an arrangement made between the Catholic Immigration Society of Brisbane and the Catholic Emigration Society of London. The Queensland body has been inactive for some time.

However, they had a representative on the New Settlers League. There is a copy of the Constitution of the NSL (Victorian Branch) and a report on a meeting of the State Council of the NSL (Victoria), 14 December 1928, at which the British representatives, Skevington, Bankes Amery and E T Crutchley were present.

A1, 1932/7421
Clontarf orphanage – Western Australia, 1928–30 [33 pages]

This deals with the abortive plans of the management of Clontarf Orphanage, Perth, WA to bring child migrants to the Tardun scheme in the late 1920s. Brother P Keaney made his application to the Lands and Immigration Department in August 1927. Their reply in February 1928 was tentative:

I am prepared to agree to the proposal of your Institution to bring boys into the state from the UK, provided that your Institution can bring the Commonwealth and British governments into line, but the State's subsidy would be on the same basis as the Fairbridge Farm School, ie 4/3 per child, per week. The Fairbridge Farm School operates under Agreements with British, Commonwealth and state governments, and any representations to the Commonwealth on the matter should be made… to the Prime Minister's Department, and would then… be passed to the Development and Migration Commission… for consideration.

This was the procedure followed. In June 1928, the Commission reported, opposed to Commonwealth subsidy:

Whilst the scheme is praiseworthy from a humanitarian point of view, the cost is too great to permit of justification of Commonwealth subsidy from the business angle of migration.

The request was refused. In September 1928, the Prime Minister replied to Senator E Needham, WA that the request for financial assistance was unable to be granted. The approach was renewed via Senator P J Lynch in 1930 with a similar result.

A1, 1932/7433
Child Migration from Malta, 1935–37 [15 pages]
This deals with an enquiry by the Commissioner for Malta to the Department of the Interior regarding assisted immigration of Maltese children on the same basis as Fairbridge children. As financial assistance to immigrants at the time was confined to those from the United Kingdom, the proposal was not considered favourably.
A1, 1937/10182
CORRESPONDENCE FILES, ANNUAL SINGLE NUMBER SERIES, 1948–65
Adelaide
Series: D400
Quantity: 435 metres
Recorded by: CA 959 (1948–66: Department of Immigration, SA Branch)
Child migration – Catholic youths sponsored by the Federal Catholic Immigration Committee, 1954 [14 pages]
This concerns the arrival under Catholic auspices of three groups of Yugoslav/Croatian youths, 60 in all, average age sixteen years, to South Australia. This migration took place on Monsignor G Crennan's initiative. The young men and women were in Italian refugee camps after their escape from Communist-ruled Yugoslavia. The plan was to apprentice or otherwise employ them immediately on arrival. After their arrival in Adelaide they were to be placed at Woodside (Army) Camp for a few days. The Good Neighbour Council and the Croatian Catholic Club were assisting in making arrangements for reception and after-care. The Catholic Immigration Office, Adelaide, was managed by Father L Roberts who was coordinating arrangements in South Australia.
D400, SA1954/5622
Child Migrants for Goodwood Orphanage, 1949–57 D400, SA1954/7424
Assisted migration – Triestian parties of youths – Catholic Immigration Committee, 1955 D400, SA 1955/321
Child Migration – Child and Youth Organisations – St. Vincent de Paul's Orphanage, 1946–48 D400, SA1955/8736
CASE FILES, ANNUAL SINGLE NUMBER SERIES, 1946–
Brisbane
Series: J25
Quantity: 1652.67 metres
Recorded by: 1946–74: Department of Immigration, Qld Branch (CA 958)
European Permanent Admissions under the Federal Catholic Immigration Committee sponsorships, Qld, 1947–66 [26 pages]
There is a list of state members of the Federal Catholic Immigration Committee in 1947. The file is relevant in part to child migration, but concerns the general immigration scene as viewed from Brisbane. Coverage is patchy. There were discussions in 1958, followed by an application for '120 European minors during the twelve months commencing 1 July 1958'. Youth migrants were obviously intended, but it is not clear from this file whether any young people arrived under the nomination.
J25, 1955/2814
CORRESPONDENCE FILES (NON-BRITISH EUROPEAN MIGRANTS), 1939–50
Canberra
Series: A434
Quantity: 12.45 metres
Recorded by: 1945–50: Department of Immigration (CA 51)
State Catholic Immigration Committee – Registration as agent, 1949–50 [5 pages]

T O'Neill, Hon. Secretary, Catholic Immigration Committee, Queensland, wrote to the Chief Migration Officer, Brisbane, 24 October 1949:

I hereby apply, on behalf of the Queensland State Catholic Immigration Committee, for permission to continue lodging nomination forms for foreign and other migrants.

This was approved, 6 December 1949.

A434, 1949/3/25955
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)
Survey of State Organisations to deal with Youth Migration, 1946 [4 pages]

In mid-1946, a Conference of Commonwealth and State Immigration Ministers recommended that a survey be conducted of the voluntary organisations in each state capable of assisting with youth migration. In this file, Queensland Premier E M Hanlon, wrote to Prime Minister Ben Chifley, 25 September 1946, that no such organisations were working in Queensland, and so:

… for the time being, the State Migration Authority will exercise control in youth migration and will deal with individual nominations for farm learners and group nominations from organisations like the Salvation Army.

The survey did not go far, but youth migration was discussed at the Premiers Conference in December 1946.

A436, 1946/5/5075
CEMWA: Request for children from Malta, 1938–50 [38 pages]

The information relates to the post-World War II period, 1946–50, with the exception of two items, one giving conditions governing child migration from Malta to Christian Brothers institutions in Western Australia, the other a related letter. Some of the material concerns child migration generally and is not limited to the Maltese situation. Brother Conlon wrote to Immigration Minister, Arthur Calwell, 19 February 1946, while he was on a tour of Catholic dioceses in rural NSW and Queensland, and said:

There is keen interest in the Commonwealth's great scheme of immigration.

He asked Calwell for a passage to the UK as quickly as possible so that he could commence recruiting. Meanwhile, Captain Curmi, the Commissioner for Malta indicated, 12 February 1947, that:

The government of Malta would favour the emigration of children… for RC institutions in Western Australia…

but transport remained a problem and the claims of other classes of migrants would have to be met before those of child migrants could be considered. There is a copy of the 1938 agreement between the Christian Brothers and the government of Malta, but the agreement had never been implemented. By this stage, Brother Conlon was in the UK and wrote to Calwell, 23 November 1946:

I find that the numbers available will be far short of the number applied for by the bishops.

Most of the remaining correspondence concerns plans to bring Maltese children to Western Australia which involved policy as well as practical issues. The material includes a copy of an inspection at St Mary's Agricultural School, Tardun, 1948 and some newspaper cuttings regarding Maltese child migration.

A436, 1949/5/1220
CEMWA – Equipment Allowance Payments – Child Migrants, 1947–49 [57 pages]

There are lists throughout of children who arrived in Western Australia under Catholic auspices from 1947 onwards, their dates of birth, age, ships on which groups travelled and the British institution from which they were sent. Mr F A Atkinson, Secretary of the Catholic Episcopal Migration and Welfare Association applied for the equipment allowance on 19 December 1947 to the Secretary, Department of Immigration, Canberra. He asked for 'early remittance' of the monies, 'as all institutions have been subjected to heavy initial expenses'. However, the Catholic Episcopal Migration and Welfare Association procedures were astray and the equipment allowance was not paid for months. Heyes wrote to the CMO, Perth, 7 January 1948:

The UK subsidy must be requested through the relative Association's Head Office in the UK. It was thought that the details of the scheme were known to Brother Conlon.

He added that the equipment allowance could only be paid 'after you have verified the ages of the children against the documents sent with them from London'. However, some documentation had gone astray or had never been sent. Three months later, Father Stinson was trying to arrange payment and hackles were rising all around. On 30 April 1948, Heyes advised Perth that 'a cheque is on the way' but it is not clear from this file if the payments were ever finalised.

A436, 1950/5/5597
CORRESPONDENCE FILES, MULTIPLE NUMBER SERIES, 1951–55
Canberra
Series: A445
Quantity: 22.5 metres
Recorded by: 1951–55: Department of Immigration (CA 51)
Catholic Episcopal Migration and Welfare Association, Perth, 1938–50 [75 pages]

This file is linked to A461, I349/1/7 (described later in this section). Most of the material covers the period 1946–50, but there is some correspondence relating to migrant children and their admission to Catholic institutions in Western Australia immediately before World War II. There is a copy of the agreement, under the Empire Settlement Act, between the Secretary of State, Dominion Affairs and the Catholic Emigration Association (UK), dated 30 September 1938, for the maintenance of the children under the Tardun scheme, which included:

… in the case of boys who have completed a course of secondary education at Tardun, to use their best efforts to provide such boys as are suitable with an opportunity for acquiring farms on their own account, or to place them in suitable employment.

Appendix III sets out the course of training for the boys at the institutions. Copy of the agreement between the Secretary and the Christian Brothers of Western Australia for part-payment of annual interest on the buildings at Tardun, 1938–52, up to £5,000 overall. There is some correspondence concerning Maltese child migration and the problems of escorting the children to Australia. The report of the four-man team inspections at Castledare and Clontarf, 1 May 1947 is included. The recommencement of child migration was in the offing. In Canberra, Sir Tasman Heyes was concerned, 15 June 1947, that child migration was being resumed before the institutions were ready:

Unfortunately the Group Nominations for WA were approved and scheduled to London before they were referred to the office of the UK High Commission… now we find that some of them [institutions] are quite unsatisfactory in their present condition.

However, by 12 November 1947, 234 boys had arrived for placement. There are a number of reports by various departmental officials of the institutions, including the 'Notes of the Conference', 4 February 1948, at the office of the Under Secretary, Lands and Immigration Department, over the situation at St Joseph's Farm and Trade School, Bindoon.

A445, 133/2/8
CEMWA – Request for children from Malta, Part 2, 1950–53 [c.250 pages]

The first Maltese child migrants arrived in Perth, boys to be spread around the four Christian Brothers orphanages. There was comment on the state of the ship on which they travelled, the Ocean Triumph, but Mr E A Membery wrote to the CMO, in Canberra, 26 April 1950:

The children were of good physique, very neatly attired and well-mannered… it appeared obvious that much care had been taken in selecting these migrants.

There are applications for the equipment allowance, lists of Maltese children arriving, correspondence regarding the various forms required to support applications for the equipment allowance, and a useful two-page summary of 'General Policy' under the 1946 Guardianship Act. Much of the correspondence is completely routine, concerned with recruiting Maltese children to fill nominations. However, few Maltese child migrants arrived. Mr R U Metcalfe reported to Heyes, 7 August 1952 on a meeting between Father Stinson and Messrs Wheeler and NuttbeforeStinson left to replace Father Nicol as Federal Catholic Immigration Committee representative in London:

On questions of financial assistance, Wheeler indicated that there was considerable tightening up and new grants were unlikely. With regard to Bindoon and the other homes, the irregular procedure had been the chief cause of the hold-up in payments. Father Stinson recognised that details, plans and specifications should be made available at the outset.

Later, Father Nicol's report on a visit to Malta, 1–6 May 1952 is appended. Nicol spoke of opposition in Malta to allowing child migrants to proceed to Western Australia: (a) there was an unfortunate letter written by a child to its relatives regarding treatment received in WA – allowing capital to be made out of a very small matter by political opponents to migration; (b) apathy of the orphanage authorities in sponsoring candidates for transfer overseas; (c) past instability of the government without sympathetic Ministers in Cabinet.

A445, 133/2/90
Federal Catholic Migration Committee. Child Migration – General. Part 3, 1954–55 [50 pages]
This concerns both arrangements to bring Maltese child migrants to South Australia and Monsignor G Crennan's project to recruit Croatian (Yugoslav) refugees from camps in the Trieste area. The arrival of escapees from communist regimes in eastern Europe interested the media and there are numerous newspaper clippings included. Their flavour may be gleaned from the headlines: 'Yugoslav boys for Adelaide'; 'Yugoslav youth seek haven in Australia'; 'Escaped from Tito' and 'Croatian boys settling down happily now'. The number of youths who arrived is unclear, but fewer than one hundred.
A445, 133/2/147
Youth Migration – Young Christian Workers Movement, Hawthorn. Victoria, 1950–55 [c.300 pages]

During 1949–50, Father F W Lombard, Director of the Young Catholic Workers Movement (Victoria) visited the UK to assess the possibilities of bringing young British workers to Australia on lines similar to that of the Big Brother Movement. Early correspondence includes Father Lombard's application for financial assistance to renovate the YCW hostel at Hawthorn, the acceptance of the YCW as 'an approved organisation' to bring youth migrants to Australia' and its plans to place the young men in employment and private accommodation after a three-months settling-in period at the Hawthorn hostel. Father Lombard was optimistic that the movement could recruit and bring 'up to 150 youths' per year. The Immigration Department was more sceptical, but eventually £12,000 was made available to prepare the hostel. Thirty-eight British youths were selected and of these, 16 arrived in September, and a further 18 prior to Christmas, 1950. There is a copy of the agreement between the Commonwealth and the Roman Catholic Trusts Corporation. In May 1951, Father Lombard submitted a brief report in the context of a request for urgent release of the Commonwealth and state funds promised for the hostel renovations. He wrote:

I visited Britain to organise a scheme for obtaining nominations… a total of 49 nominated British migrants have arrived. Already 15 boys have left the hostel, five are working with farmers; nine apprenticed; nine (others) working with the PMG; ten are in private homes in the suburbs. However, the financial burden is a heavy one.

This was the rub. With staff costs the Hawthorn hostel was running at a loss and much of the material concerns financial affairs and the problems associated with recruiting suitable boys from Britain. Fewer than 100 had arrived. Sir Tasman Heyes wrote to Monsignor G Crennan, 7 May 1952, about the same numbers arriving at Hawthorn hostel in view of the £16,000 government grant which the YCW had received. Crennan investigated and reported to Canberra: the problem was the heavy loss in managing the Hawthorn hostel; many of the boys were apprentices who could not afford much money for their board and lodging; and the YCW wanted to withdraw as quickly as possible from youth migration. This came as a 'bombshell'. Monsignor Crennan interviewed Immigration Department officials but the financial problem was insurmountable. The remainder of this large file concerns the termination of YCW involvement with youth migration, the disposal of the Hawthorn hostel, and the repayment of a substantial part of the original government grant.

A445, 133/2/101
Federal Catholic Migration Committee. Child and Youth Migration. General. Part 2, 1953 [29 pages]
This contains material concerned with the visit of Monsignor G Crennan, Federal Director, Federal Catholic Immigration Committee and Father C Stinson, Director, Catholic Episcopal Migration and Welfare Association to Canberra after Stinson's return from a fifteen-month recruiting trip to the UK, Malta and Western Europe. There is a copy of his 16-page report, which formed the basis for discussions with the Immigration Department, and the Department's own memorandum on the talks. The issues discussed included: the Federal Catholic Immigration Committee London office; recruitment of juvenile migrants; the situation at St John Bosco's Boys Home, Glenorchy, Tasmania; the low-level of intelligence among many Catholic child migrants; the special difficulties recruiting girls; and Father Stinson's attendance at a Conference of Catholic Charities in Rome where delegates from the Scandinavian countries had denounced his efforts as 'immoral and inhuman'.
A445, 133/2/124
Castledare – St. Vincent's Orphanage, WA, 1948–51 A445, 133/2/47
Bindoon – St. Joseph's Farm School, WA, 1948–51 [31 pages]

This contains a range of reports on the institution by various departmental officials over the four years covered. The first is the team inspection at Bindoon on 19 January 1948, which led to the crisis meeting, 4 February, at the office of the Under Secretary, Lands and Immigration Department. The critical issues discussed were: provision of suitable furniture and educational facilities; female staff; lockers; medical review of all boys and wages for the older trainees. Key documents can turn up in more than one file since many government departments were concerned with child and youth immigration, including Child Welfare, Health, Immigration (Commonwealth), Immigration (State) and Transport. There is a copy of the 'Agreement for Service with Board and Lodgings' under the Child Welfare Act, 1947 (Sections 51 and 54). On 14 April 1950, a three-man team visited Bindoon 'to review the migrant inmates' with a view to placing the boys over 16 years of age in outside employment. Three months later, the inspectors returned to monitor this process and reported, 3 July 1950:

It appears that, at last, action is being taken to place the majority of the older boys out in positions [in the community].

There is also correspondence concerning the application for financial assistance from State and Commonwealth for the Bindoon building program and concerning the so-called 'Apprenticeship Scheme' which St Joseph's claimed to be implementing.

A445, 133/2/33
St. Mary's Agricultural School – Tardun, WA, Part 1, 1945–51 A445, 133/2/41
St. Joseph's Home for Children – Neerkol, Rockhampton, Qld, 1948–51 A445, 133/2/36
St. Josephs Orphanage and St. Vincent's Foundling Home, Leederville, WA, 1948–51 [c.100 pages]

This contains a number of inspection reports and associated correspondence. Most of the comment was positive; the homes were running smoothly. On 18 October 1948, Messrs F Mather and G Denny were impressed with the 'growth and [healthy] appearance of the migrant children'. The Education Department inspector, Mr J Telford, reported, 26 July 1949:

The manner in which the immigrant children have settled down is worthy of special mention, this being a notable feature of every class… The general atmosphere of the school leaves nothing to be desired.

There is discussion of the poor health record of some children and their general educational retardation, for reasons associated with their institutional upbringing during the war years in Britain. In 1950, there is correspondence regarding the possible arrival of Maltese child migrants.

A445, 133/2/40
St. Joseph's Orphanage and St. Vincent's Foundling Home, Leederville, WA, 1951–54 [c.120 pages]

The first prominent item is 'Application for Recognition as an Approved Institution for Maltese children' – a Joint Report by Messrs G Bartley (Commonwealth) and L Alexander (State), dated 20 August 1951. They found two establishments sharing the one block, catering for 340 girls (and some very young boys), staffed by 28 Mercy Sisters, 'one of the finest orphanages in the state'. They recommended 'Approved' status for Maltese child migrants. In fact, there were delays in gaining recognition. The CMO Rome, Mr J Cliffe reported, 28 July 1951:

This matter has been shelved for a long time by the Nationalist government (Malta) because they were unable to agree on a clear cut policy towards child migration.

Months passed before formal approval was granted in December, but this did not bring Maltese girls to Leederville. The Immigration Department advised almost a year later:

The Maltese authorities did not process the [requested] applications for twenty girls aged 5 to 10 years old for this institution. The latest information to hand concerning Maltese child migration mentions that the response has been poor.

Much of the material concerns plans for Maltese child migration.

A445, 133/2/144
Mater Dei Orphanage – Narellan, 1949–52 A445, 133/2/19
Murray Dwyer Boys Orphanage, Mayfield and Monte Pio Girls Orphanage, West Maitland, 1946–51 A445, 133/2/20
Murray Dwyer Boys Orphanage, Mayfield. Monte Pio Girls Orphanage, West Maitland, 1951–53 A445, 133/2/21
St. Patrick's Orphanage – Armidale NSW, 1949–54 A445, 133/2/42
St. Joseph's Orphanage – Cowper – NSW Part 1, 1949–54 A445, 133/2/37
GENERAL CORRESPONDENCE RECORDS, 1945–50
Perth
Series: PP6/1
Quantity: 36.5 metres
Recorded by: 1945–50: Department of Immigration, WA Branch (CA 962)
Castledare – St .Vincent's Orphanage – Queen's Park, Inspection and Progress Reports, 1948–51 [34 pages]
In September 1949, Sir Tasman Heyes requested the Lands and Immigration Department, Perth to check that improvements promised had occurred at Castledare Junior Orphanage; specifically he enquired regarding female staff, fly-proofing the kitchen, the sanitary facilities and the conditions of the dormitories. He had seen two reports, one from May, from State Immigration and one from June, from the Child Welfare Department. The Under Secretary replied that the Catholic authorities were aware that 'no further admissions to Castledare will be approved while the present over-crowding of the classrooms exists'. Three weeks after the request from Canberra, Castledare was inspected again by Messrs Bartley and Brown from the Immigration Office in Perth. They found 'a vast improvement' though another fifteen boys had been placed at the home. There is mention that the Catholic authorities will apply for government financial assistance for the renovations requested.
PP6/1, 1949/H/1169
Castledare – St. Vincent's Orphanage – Queen's Park. Government Financial Assistance, buildings etc, (Loan 1), 1950–51 [25 pages]
This concerns the correspondence surrounding the Catholic Episcopal Migration and Welfare Association application for Commonwealth and state subsidy to assist in funding the renovations to the kitchen and scullery at Castledare. Complications arose from the fact that the renovations were complete before the application for assistance was lodged. It is not clear from this material whether the application was approved or rejected.
PP6/1, 1949/H/2757
Clontarf – St. Peter's Orphanage, Victoria Park – inspection and progress reports, 1948–50 [32 pages]

This contains inspection reports and related correspondence. Mr J Marriott, the Child Welfare Department, Institution Officer, visited Clontarf on 15 January 1948 after 32 child migrants were placed there. He reported along the following lines:

… in company with the Manager, Brother Crowley, made an inspection of the premises and saw each of the 32 migrant boys in residence… [they] appeared to be in good physical condition… [but] rather severe sunburn… good spirits… school vacation… enjoyed immensely… picture shows… picnics… buildings spotlessly clean.

On 19 July 1949, two inspectors representing Immigration and Child Welfare Departments visited Clontarf and the report of each is in the file. Mr J Mather (Immigration) wrote:

57 child migrants; 132 others [boys]… Brother Crowley discussed the possibility of obtaining a specially trained teacher to take charge of the backward children… All the boys appeared to be in good physical condition… Bed Wetters dormitory, I regret to report, is far below the general standard of the institution… dining-room and kitchen not up to standard… the children appear to be happy… the general atmosphere of the institution is excellent.

There is correspondence around the issues of renovations of sub-standard facilities, building permits and possible government financial assistance.

PP6/1, 1949/H/1167
Clontarf – St. Peter's Orphanage – Government financial assistance, buildings etc, 1952 [1 page]
There is one sentence: 'Governmental Financial Assistance for Clontarf buildings, 20 May 1952. NIL'.
PP6/1, 1949/H/2754
Bindoon – St. Joseph's Farm School – Inspection and Progress Reports, 1948–50 [17 pages]

Two inspectors visited Bindoon on 13 July 1948 and their reports commence this file, which is one of reports and associated correspondence. One felt 'a sense of improvement' but the institution faced many problems, one of which was the boys' education. Mr M E Neck, the School Inspector, wrote:

Brother Keaney hopes that the Technical class room will be equipped and completed for use within six months. He has had difficulty in obtaining machinery and tools.

Another inspector wrote on 3 August 1948:

At present a number of boys sleep on verandas which in wet weather is not altogether desirable…

He added that wages for the trainees had to be arranged. There is a copy of Mr F Mather's more detailed comments of 7 September 1948 when he attempted to get the older boys' training program organised systematically. After Mather's report, there is no further inspection (evident from this file) until the Inspector of Schools, Mr C Radbourn, arrived fifteen months later. He wrote, inter alia, on 13 December 1949:

The boys are very backward, practically all have been in institutions in the UK all their lives… war… dislocation… Educationally, practically all of these boys are retarded, some very badly.

The roving inspector from the Scottish Home Office, Miss H R Harrison, arrived in April 1950 and was wonderfully impressed by Bindoon. Sir Tasman Heyes was informed, 28 April, that 'Miss Harrison considered Bindoon the best of the RC Homes she has ever visited'.

PP6/1, 1949/H/1168
Tardun – St. Mary's Agricultural School – Inspection and Progress Reports, 1949–51 [28 pages]

The first item is a summary by G Bartley, Immigration Department, 13 October 1949, of the numbers of child migrants in Catholic institutions in Western Australia which includes these interesting facts:

317 British children now accommodated… five in employment; six with foster parents; 7 joined their own parents who arrived later and three have died.

Otherwise the main subject of the material is a series of inspections made by Mr J Abbott, the Country (Child Welfare) Inspector, based in Geraldton, in 1950 to St Mary's Agricultural School, Tardun and correspondence which followed Abbott's reports. The issues appeared to be possible overcrowding when 30 anticipated Maltese child migrants arrived and government financial assistance for renovations and floor coverings in the dormitories. The last item has Mr E R Denny, Immigration Department, explaining to his superiors in Canberra that in the Tardun climate 'floor coverings are not essential' and the overall position at the institution 'may be considered satisfactory'.

PP6/1, 1949/H/1166
Nazareth House – Geraldton – inspection and progress reports, 1948–51 PP6/1, 1949/H/1165
Nazareth House – Geraldton – Government financial assistance, buildings etc, 1949 PP6/1, 1949/H/2756
St. Joseph's Orphanage – Leederville, Inspection & Progress reports, 1948–50 PP6/1, 1949/H/1163
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)
Child migration – CEMWA – subsidies, 1952–78 [88 pages]
This contains lists of child migrants who came to Catholic orphanages in Western Australia after 1952 in the context of Catholic Episcopal Migration and Welfare Association applications for the Commonwealth government per capita 'equipment allowance'. There is evidence that there were endless troubles checking names and dates of birth; personal papers supposed to be received from England did not always arrive, necessitating further negotiations. From July 1955 until early 1962, the Catholic Episcopal Migration and Welfare Association did not claim the equipment allowance at all, and 56 children arrived during the interim – most being the 'second wave' of Maltese child migrants who came in the early 1960s.
K403, W59/86
Castledare Catholic Home, 1951–57 [45 pages]

This concerns inspections and associated correspondence of the Castledare (Junior) Christian Brothers Orphanage in Perth, Western Australia. Mr K R Crook from the British High Commission visited Perth in July 1951 and reported on Castledare to the Head, Immigration Department, Canberra:

A good deal of work has been done on this Home and many of the objections to it have been removed.

John Moss visited five months later and filed a mixed report, 6 December 1951:

The Recreation Hall is used as classrooms. This must be considered a very unsatisfactory arrangement… permits are required for building… The general appearance of the children is quite satisfactory. They were free, open and cheerful.

However, there was need to improve the ablutions and fly-proof the kitchen. Moss reported in another letter to the High Commission around the same time:

Apart from these points, I was favourably impressed by the conditions prevailing at the Home.

The renovations were delayed, there were money problems, and a further 20 boys arrived on the Ormonde, 21 August 1952. However, over the following year new classrooms were constructed and opened, 6 December 1953. There is correspondence over Castledare's acceptance as a suitable place for Maltese child migrants. There is little correspondence after 1953. However, in 1957 there were further problems in the wake of the visit of the UK Fact-Finding Mission of the previous year. Mr A L Nutt at the Immigration Department wrote, 25 June 1957:

The staff is inadequate for the number of children in residence.

Specifically it was the lack of female staff which mattered. Castledare was dropped from the list of 'approved institutions' recognised for the care of British child migrants. Nuns were promised, but a community proved impossible to find. A matron was engaged and eventually after protracted negotiations Castledare recovered its approved status.

K403, W59/89
Castledare Catholic Home – Government Financial Assistance, 1950–55 [150 pages]

This concerns the tortuous negotiations around the request for, and processing of, the application for government financial assistance under the two-thirds building grant for approved homes taking child migrants. Mr H E Smith, Lands and Immigration Department, Perth explained the problem which generated the extensive file:

The Catholic Episcopal Migration and Welfare Association did not submit this application prior to completing the work.

However, the renovations were 'essential' and 'WA was willing to pay its one-third' after assessment of costs. The Chief Migration Officer replied, 25 July 1950, with a request for plans and receipts, but there were few:

The work had been done, day by day, and no plans or specifications were available.

A year passed and routine correspondence accumulated. Then on 24 July 1951, the State Building Inspector, Mr W Fortune reported on 'the haphazard way in which the contract was carried out' and added:

Future contracts in which Commonwealth and State monies are involved must be prepared by a competent architect and the [Housing] Commission notified before commencement of work.

There was a further application to fund more improvements in March 1953, but it is not clear from this file if any monies were ever paid.

K403, W59/91
Castledare Catholic Home – general inspection, 1948–54 [50 pages]

Most correspondence is concentrated on the 1948 crisis. A four-man team visited Castledare in July and reported on an unsatisfactory situation which commenced when the Principal appeared 'unshaven and obviously not prepared for a snap visit'. Many of the children were sleeping on urine-soaked mattresses; the kitchen fly-blown; the recreation room being used as a classroom. Mr E R Denny wrote that 'the Catholic authorities be advised that the conditions which exist cannot be tolerated'. The response is discussed in the material. The most important item is the summary of the Castledare situation, penned by Mr W Garnett of the UK High Commission to Mr A L Nutt at the Immigration Department, 12 January 1951:

I visited Castledare in 1944… very unsatisfactory… my impression (after going over my reports) and with vivid recollection of what the place looked like when I last saw it, was that the authorities responsible for Castledare have been very dilatory in effecting essential improvements, even assuming that the institution is capable of being adapted to meet modern requirements.

The Immigration Department reacted defensively to the British official's comments, and in May 1951 a team inspection at the institution reported in positive terms. Later reports are equally encouraging.

K403, W59/92
Clontarf – Policy, 1947–59 [20 pages]
This contains scattered material across almost ten years, though most of the correspondence is centred on the recommencement of child migration in 1947. There is a useful chart, 'Placement of Migrant Children in RC institutions in Western Australia'. However, much of the material is duplicated in other files. There is reference towards the end of Monsignor G Crennan's plans to place six refugee Croatian youths, 17–18 years old at Clontarf to learn English before placement in the work force. It is not clear if the plan proceeded.
K403, W59/93
Clontarf – government financial assistance, 1950–55 [2 pages]
This contains material on the plans of Monsignor G Crennan, Federal Director of the FCIC, to place refugee youths at Clontarf.
K403, W59/95
Clontarf – general inspections, 1947–56 K403, W59/96
Clontarf child migrants – accidents, 1955–67
See also file PP352/1, WA12229, listed later in this section.
K403, W59/97
Bindoon Catholic Home – government financial assistance, 1949–57 [104 pages]

This provides detailed material on the complicated story of partial government funding for the massive buildings at Bindoon. The decision to provide funds to institutions to upgrade certain facilities was made at a Conference of Migration Officers held at Canberra, 16–17 December 1946, and ratified by the government soon afterwards. The costs were to be shared equally by Commonwealth, State and the institution concerned. In the case of St Joseph's Farm and Trade School, however, the application for assistance was lodged in mid-1949 after some buildings were almost completed. Father Stinson, Director, CEMWA, wrote to Arthur Calwell, 19 July 1949:

Approximately a month ago I submitted to the State Housing Commission plans for extensions to Bindoon Boys' Town. I applied for a permit to commence building operations… of laundry block, technical workshops, dormitory block and staff quarters… estimated cost… £43, 864. I now wish to make formal application for the one-third Commonwealth government Grant.

One year passed, and when State and Commonwealth Immigration officers arrived to assess the situation, 21 July 1950, it was in the context of Bindoon's capacity to take further groups of child migrants, including Maltese children. Much of the building work was already finished; other developments had commenced. On 3 August 1950, Mr G Bartley wrote that:

Brother Keaney's methods are unorthodox; he has obtained all building materials from every source possible; the majority of the construction work has been done by the boys… under the direction of two Italian stonemasons.

Time passed; more inspections are noted in the file; before a team arrived from the Public Works Department and Commonwealth Child Migration Office, 9–13 October 1950. Their combined report is dated 9 January 1951, and includes the following comments:

The only drawings of the buildings available were very incomplete floor plans… no specifications are available… no receipts… although the procedure is quite irregular, the Hon. Minister for Lands agreed to recommend on this occasion that the state government pay one-third of the cost of all buildings considered essential for the use of the migrant children.

The boys had received no wages. However, this was far from the end of the saga and correspondence after 1951 records further visits, followed by the decision to pay £30,944 (half each Commonwealth and State) in instalments as buildings were completed, furnished and inspected. The last payment is dated 21 January 1957, by which time Brother Keaney had been deceased for almost three years.

K403, W59/87
Bindoon Catholic Home – general inspection, 1947–56 [68 pages]

The first item is an inspection report of St Joseph's Farm and Trade School, Bindoon, 26 May 1947, by the Assistant Under Secretary, Lands and Immigration Department, Perth before the arrival of postwar child migrants. He writes:

… the institution is essentially a Farm School intended for the rural training of youths after each boy has completed his primary education.

The place was not suitable for primary school boys; the nomination should be reduced from 100 boys to 50. The child migrants arrived in three groups between October 1947 and January 1948, and there is an inspection report by three departmental officers, 19 January 1948. They listed certain matters for 'urgent attention': provision of suitable furniture and educational facilities; female domestic staff; lockers; medical review of all boys; and wages for trainees. The file has a number of departmental reports and related correspondence on the home which had become controversial. On 4 April 1948, Mr S R Denny made a further review of the institution's progress and reported:

The position could be considered satisfactory for the time being.

He advised another inspection 'at an early date'. However, there is nothing here from April 1948 until August 1949. There is a handwritten memo, 20 October 1949:

A Conference with Mr W E Smith (Lands and Immigration Department), mentioned that conditions at Bindoon and Tardun are far from satisfactory; boys are working and not receiving proper education; some boys are acting improperly indicating insufficient control. If the British authorities were aware of the conditions it may create uneasiness and probable cessation of selection of children under the scheme. The Ministers are in conference and perturbed regarding the position.

There are further reports concerning costing the buildings at Bindoon; John Moss's comments, 11 December 1951; and a report by Mr G Bartley of the Commonwealth Immigration Department, 12 August 1952 in which he writes:

Many of the boys are approaching the age when they must leave Bindoon and it is an urgent necessity that the Review Committee visit to discuss their future with the lads.

There are reports and newspaper cuttings of the opening of the new buildings at Bindoon, 4 October 1953. The final section deals with the visit of the British Fact-Finding Mission in 1956; the unpleasant scene between the Principal and Mr J Ross, the Mission's leader; and the subsequent inspections ordered by the Immigration Department. This is an important file on the most controversial of the child migration institutions.

K403, W59/88
Tardun Catholic Home – government financial assistance, c.1947–57 K403, W59/120
Tardun Catholic Home – general inspection, c.1948–57 K403, W59/121
Nazareth House Catholic Home – general inspection, c.1947–78 K403, W59/109
St. Vincent's and St. Joseph's Catholic Homes – government financial assistance, 1948–54 K403, W59/112
St. Vincent's and St. Joseph's Catholic Homes – general inspections, c.1947–58 K403, W59/113
St. Joseph's, c.1959–84 K403, W59/925
CORRESPONDENCE FILES, CLASS 1 (GENERAL PASSPORTS), 1939–1970
Canberra
Series: A659
Quantity: 101.25 metres
Recorded by: 1939–45: Department of the Interior [II] (CA 31)
Catholic Emigration Association, London – Scheme to emigrate children to Catholic institutions in Western Australia, 1937–44 [300 pages]

This commences with Archbishop Prendiville (Perth) writing to Prime Minister J A Lyons, 8 November 1937, regarding 'financial assistance to a scheme to emigrate children from England to our Catholic institutions in Western Australia'. Lyons passed the request to the WA government. There, the Deputy Premier, M F Troy, indicated cooperation and on 20 January 1938, Brother Conlon sent Lyons a detailed statement regarding plans for the Catholic child migration scheme. The Minister for the Interior, John McEwen, approved and agreed to the inclusion of Irish youth in the scheme. Wheeler warned, 7 February 1938:

Child migration is spectacular, but extremely costly.

During much of 1938 Brother Conlon was in Britain and there is correspondence around applications for financial assistance for capital costs for additions to the St Mary's Agricultural School at Tardun. In the event, the UK government allowed £250 per annum towards interest payable on loans for capital works at Tardun for a fifteen-year period. R H Wheeler at the Interior Ministry, Canberra, warned again, 21 July 1938:

I fear the RC Church has been rather hasty in introducing children from overseas.

There are lists of the Catholic children who arrived for the Tardun scheme, inspector's reports, claims for maintenance payments, correspondence over the medical and psychological tests which intending child migrants were given; and plans to bring girls from Britain to the Sisters of Nazareth at Geraldton.

A659, 1945/1/499
Child migration to Catholic institutions, WA, 1937–45 [196 pages]
Canberra
Series: A461
Quantity: 143.82 metres
Recorded by: 1934–50: Prime Minister's Department (CA 12)
Child migration to Catholic institutions, WA, 1937–45 [196 pages]
This file contains letters regarding government financial support for Catholic institutions in Western Australia involved with British child migrants, specifically St Mary's Agricultural School, Tardun, managed by the Christian Brothers. There are details of other Christian Brothers institutions; and on aid to Fairbridge. Additional support was requested: extension of the maintenance subsidies to girls, boys over 14 years of age and girls from Ireland, for accommodation extensions and exemption from customs dues for equipment. The first item has the Deputy Premier, WA, Mr M Troy advising Prime Minister J A Lyons that 'experience has shown child migration to be the most successful form of immigration attempted in recent years' and thus supporting the plans of the Catholic Emigration Society (UK) to send children to the Tardun scheme 'on the same lines as the Fairbridge Farm School'. The State was willing to contribute towards the maintenance of the children; advised the Commonwealth to do likewise, which was eventually arranged. There is a useful three-page summary of government financial arrangements for supporting the various child migration schemes, dated 20 May 1938; and a second summary, dated 15 July 1938, which summarises government support for capital works. There are detailed lists of the first Catholic child migrants to arrive at Tardun.
A461, M349/1/7
Immigration – Clontarf orphanage, 1928–30 [46 pages]

This file is linked to A445, 133/2/8 (described earlier in this section) and relates to the immigration of poor orphaned boys to Catholic institutions in Western Australia. It contains a request by the Clontarf Orphanage for government assistance similar to that given to the Fairbridge Farm School. The Development and Migration Commission strongly opposed the grant, 6 June 1928, in a memorandum to the Prime Minister:

The Commonwealth has subsidised the Fairbridge school for some years, but it should be stated that the granting of such subsidy was strongly condemned by the Commonwealth Immigration authorities (at the time). The scheme is unsound economically from a migration point-of-view, in that lads of working age could be recruited at a much lower cost than that involved in the introduction of young children under the Fairbridge scheme.

Senator Pearce granted the Clontarf orphanage representatives an interview but denied the request for assistance, 4 July 1928: 'work of that character is best carried out under private auspices'. A summary of Commonwealth assistance to Fairbridge is enclosed. In 1930, the matter was again raised with the new ALP government by Senator P J Lynch, Labor, WA. However, the reply was again negative: 'The maintenance of Institutions of that description is essentially a State function'.

A461, I349/1/7
Application for financial assistance – Young Christian Workers Movement, 1950 A461, R344/5/1
GENERAL CORRESPONDENCE, 1926–30
Canberra
Series: CP211/2
Quantity: 23.94 metres
Recorded by: 1926–30: Development and Migration Commission (CA 243)
Training – Clontarf Orphanage – Ministerial Approval, 1928 CP211/2, 74/28
Clontarf Orphanage – Application for Financial Assistance, 1928 [7 pages]

The principal item is a memorandum from the Development and Migration Commission to the Minister of the Interior regarding an application by Clontarf Orphanage, WA, for a Commonwealth subsidy on Fairbridge Farm School lines. The application was rejected:

… from a migration aspect, the large cost per head that the Commonwealth would be required to bear does not justify the granting of assistance…

the Minister replied, c. 11 June 1928.

CP211/2, bundle 105
CORRESPONDENCE FILES (LEGAL), SINGLE NUMBER SERIES WITH 'WA' PREFIX, 1944–69
Perth
Series: PP352/1
Quantity: 27 metres
Recorded by: 1944–69: Deputy Crown Solicitor's Office, WA (CA 890)
Clontarf bus accident – Public Subscription Fund – Deputy Crown Solicitor's Office, c.1944–69
The file concerns a bus accident involving child migrants and contains correspondence between DCS and the Child Welfare Department, preparation of the trust deed by DCS, notes of meetings of the fund trustees and a statement about the disbursement of the funds to the recipients. The file includes a list of names of the child migrants. There is more information regarding the accident in K403, W59/97, listed earlier in this section.
PP352/1, WA12229
CORRESPONDENCE FILES, ANNUAL SINGLE NUMBER SERIES, 1953–
Canberra
Series: A446
Quantity: 3346.4 metres
Recorded by: 1953–74: Department of Immigration (CA 51)
Child migration – St. Vincent de Paul Orphanage, Goodwood South Australia, Catholic, 1947–60 [c.200 pages]

This concerns recruitment of girls for the South Australian home and their education. Brother Conlon wrote to Immigration Minister, Arthur Calwell, 18 October 1947:

The Archbishop of Adelaide asked me when leaving for England at the beginning of 1946 to get him some girls for the orphanage in Adelaide.

Calwell explained the procedures: the Goodwood orphanage would have to be inspected both by British and Commonwealth representatives prior to recognition as 'an approved institution' for the reception of child migrants. There were delays: a team inspection was arranged in March 1948 and reported:

The present inmates appear naturally contented and happy; they present a well-cared-for appearance.

Meanwhile it proved difficult to find girls in the UK for child migration: girls were easier to foster and there was still unlimited work for older girls in domestic service. However, 28 migrant girls arrived, 19 January 1949, but four were 15–16 years of age on arrival. Father Roberts was appointed 'custodian' of the children. A proposal was discussed to bring Maltese girls to Goodwood; Captain Curmi, the Commissioner for Malta in Australia agreed to investigate the possibilities, but Maltese authorities, reflecting public opinion on the islands, were unwilling to send girls to Australia. There is some correspondence on the problems created when one of the older girls absconded from Goodwood and the orphanage did not want her returned. The Secretary, Child Welfare Department Adelaide, advised Father Roberts, 10 January 1951:

The welfare and care of every immigrant child of whom you are the custodian is your responsibility… While we are prepared to do anything to help in such cases, the responsibility must remain with the approved organisation sponsoring the child's entry to Australia.

There is some important correspondence on evolving Maltese child migration policy. The CMO, Australian Legation, Rome wrote to Canberra, 22 December 1951:

Child migration has been shelved by the Nationalist government [Malta] for a long time because they were unable to agree on a clear cut policy on child migration.

Meanwhile, at Goodwood the Mercy Sisters did not want any further child migrants. John Moss commented, 14 December 1951:

Some of the migrants who came were very difficult and clearly too old. There is no likelihood of any further nominations.

On 7 May 1952, Heyes told Father Roberts:

You will be interested to know that final arrangements are in hand for parties of Maltese children to come to Catholic institutions in Western Australia.

However, on 3 July 1952, the Commissioner for Malta, Captain F Stivala announced that Maltese girls for migration could not be found, and added:

… the position is that, notwithstanding the advantages inherent to this scheme, the response in Malta has been poor and it is for this reason that the outstanding nominations cannot be fulfilled.

Father Nicol advised, c. August 1952:

It is very difficult to find suitable child migrants from Malta; there is a background of opposition to child migration to Australia.

The CMO, Rome advised, 20 March 1953 that only one Maltese girl was available and she was not sent.

A446, 1956/67269
Child Migration. St. Joseph's Girls Orphanage, Kenmore, Goulburn NSW (Catholic), 1950–54

The Sisters of Mercy orphanage, Kenmore was five kilometres from Goulburn, NSW and catered for 90–100 children. The Child Welfare Department Director, R H Hicks, noted, 16 February 1950, that 'it is regarded as a well-conducted establishment'. However, he added that there were other NSW orphanages which had approved status, but which had received few or no child migrants. Kenmore had applied for status as 'an approved institution' to receive child migrants, at a stage when the Home Office (London) was imposing administrative delay on new applications (1950–52). In fact, the Home Office wanted another full inspection. Hicks summarised the results of the second inspection, 26 April 1951:

Although it is felt that it would be difficult to raise any strenuous objections to conditions in the home, it is felt that there is a great deal of room for improvement… staff inadequate… senior girls held too long… ablution section unsatisfactory… they are hardly in a position to provide for an additional group of children.

Time passed, and almost two years later, 8 January 1953, Monsignor G Crennan, Director, FCIC, announced that approval had been granted to place twelve migrant girls at Kenmore and there was talk of bringing Maltese child migrants in addition. All this proved abortive however and Kenmore was filled with local children.

A446, 1956/67263
Child Migration. St. Brigid's Orphanage, Ryde NSW (Roman Catholic), 1949–55 [88 pages]

This has some similarities with the previous file: a Catholic NSW orphanage offering to take some child migrants at a time when it was difficult to gain sufficient British children to fill existing applications, and at the same time, the Home Office was delaying the approval of new applications. In the first folio, Father W Nicol, Federal Catholic Immigration Committee Federal Director before moving to London in 1949 wrote, 30 June 1949:

… regarding the custodianship of all Catholic migrant children coming to Australia under the age of twenty-one. The Federal Catholic Immigration Committee will accept the offer of custodianship of these children.

Father Nicol was himself the official custodian. There is much correspondence on the attempts to achieve 'approved' status for St Brigid's to accept child migrants, combined with the plain fact that relatively few children were available in the UK or Malta for placing in Australia. St Brigid's had to proceed through the same steps to Home Office approval as did Kenmore. It was not until 17 January 1952 that the British authorities gave their seal of approval, two and a half years after the first approach. In essence, the Home Office was opposed to child migration, the Dominions Office was sympathetic, and the British Cabinet was prepared to let it proceed until child migration died a natural death.

A446, 1956/67262
Young Christian Workers Movement – Youth migration – Part 1, 1948–54 [c.150 pages]

On 28 July 1948, Mr Ted Long, President of the Young Christian Workers, wrote to Immigration Minister, Arthur Calwell to request advice on a YCW scheme to immigrate young workers to Australia from overseas. Long requested financial assistance with purchasing a suitable building for use as a hostel for 25 to 30 young men, mainly apprentices, for a three-month settling-in period before they were placed in private homes. Calwell was supportive but indicated there would be no monies for routine maintenance. However, the two-thirds building subsidy would be available. On the strength of this the YCW found and purchased a suitable property at the corner of Patterson & Oxley Roads, Hawthorn (Victoria) which had been conducted as a guesthouse and was known as 'The Terricks'. Almost immediately, the problems of renovations and refurnishing became urgent; and few formalities and inspections had been arranged. In July 1949, Father F W Lombard wrote to Calwell that:

… although the YCW purchased a hostel some eight months ago, we have only received six nominations from Britain, whereas we had hoped to receive nearly 200 each year.

Lombard suggested he proceed urgently to the UK to recruit suitable youths through the British Young Christian Workers Movement. Meanwhile, the Victorian Government had inspected the property and agreed with the renovation proposals, but on 8 September 1949, Long requested the actual monies from governments, the two-thirds subsidy 'forthwith' as 'we are being pressed for repayment of the loan'. There were further delays. Long wrote again to Sir Tasman Heyes, 18 November 1949 that his Committee was 'financially embarrassed'. There were further delays and some correspondence in the file over bringing first Baltic refugees and later Maltese workers to Australia via the Hawthorn hostel. Meanwhile, it was revealed that the YCW was not yet classed as an 'approved organisation' for introducing youth migrants, and the Department of Immigration was awaiting the return of Father Lombard from the UK to see if he had secured clear arrangements for recruiting suitable British lads. It was not until March 1950, fifteen months after the purchase of the hostel that the YCW secured approved status and an agreement was signed between the Commonwealth and the RC Trusts Corporation over assistance for purchase and renovations at the YCW hostel. In due course the monies were made available.

A446, 1974/76807
CORRESPONDENCE FILES, ANNUAL SINGLE NUMBER SERIES WITH OCCASIONAL 'G' [GENERAL REPRESENTATIONS] INFIX, 1956–
Canberra
Series: A463
Quantity: 701.38 metres
Recorded by: 1956–71: Prime Minister's Department (CA 12)
Brother F P Keaney (Bindoon), Honour, 1953

This contains a small booklet on 'the scheme' which linked the four Western Australian Catholic orphanages in their reception of child migrants. Otherwise there is a single letter in which the Deputy-Secretary, Prime Minister's Department writes to another officer, 2 April 1953:

Brother Keaney is in charge of a farm and industrial school, more commonly called 'Boys Town', Bindoon, Western Australia… he is approaching 80 years of age. I am quite certain that the Christian Brothers Order would be extremely delighted if the remarkable achievement of Brother F P Keaney could be recognised. Any recognition (MBE) would be received by the Order with deep gratitude.

(Brother Keaney died in 1954 in his mid-60s.)

A463, 1959/3608

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Chapter 3
Guide to the Records