Monday, November 16, 2009

Children Sent From Britain to Colonies to Relieve Post-WWII Social Services, Receive Apology From Australia

"Kevin Rudd, Australian PM, Apologizes For Kids Shipped From Britain To Colonies"

"When John Hennessey was 10 years old, he was sent from a war-weary Britain to an orphanage in Australia, where he was told food was plentiful and children rode kangaroos to school.
Instead, he was beaten and sexually abused, leaving him emotionally scarred and with a stutter that persists 60 years later.

'There's no other country in the world that has deported their children to the other side of the world and then abandoned them,' the 72-year-old said before an emotional ceremony Monday in Australia, where Prime Minister Kevin Rudd apologized for his country's role in a shameful episode in British colonial history.
'They stole our innocence,' he added, calling his caretakers in Australia 'a ring of pedophiles.'

Rudd acknowledged the deep wounds inflicted by the programs that sent an estimated 150,000 British children to distant colonies – intending to ease pressure on post-World War II Britain's social services, provide orphaned or abandoned children with a fresh start and supply the empire with a sturdy supply of white workers. Rudd extended condolences to the 7,000 survivors of the programs who still live in Australia, many of whom grew up in institutions where they were physically and sexually abused or were sent to work as farm laborers.
'We are sorry,' Rudd said. 'Sorry that as children you were taken from your families and placed in institutions where so often you were abused. Sorry for the physical suffering, the emotional starvation and the cold absence of love, of tenderness, of care. Sorry for the tragedy – the absolute tragedy – of childhoods lost.'
The ceremony at Parliament House comes one day after the British government said Prime Minister Gordon Brown would apologize next year for the child migrant programs, which lasted from 1618 to 1967. After 1920, most of the children went to Australia.

Rudd also apologized to the 'forgotten Australians' – children who suffered while in state care during the last century. According to a 2004 Australian Senate report, more than 500,000 children were placed in foster homes, orphanages and other institutions during the 20th century. Many were emotionally, physically and sexually abused."

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