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Page last updated at 08:04 GMT, Monday, 16 November 2009
Apology for 10,000 child migrants

BBC Inside Out documentary: Britain's child migrants scandal (2006)

On Monday, 16 November, 2009, the Australian Government made a formal apology to Britain's former child migrants.

Thousands of children were told they were orphans and shipped abroad in the 1940s, '50s and '60s.

Notts social worker Margaret Humphreys uncovered the scandal. She said: "The recognition is vital if people are to recover."

Gordon Brown plans to apologise for the UK's role early in the new year.

Children were deported from Britain as part of Britain's child migration schemes up until 1967.

They were sent abroad to be brought up in institutions. Many were treated as child slave labour and most of the children and parents were lied to.

The children were told they were orphans, the parents were told that they had gone to a better life.

"Good white stock"

The children were sent to populate a nation with what was called at the time "good white stock". The policy was endorsed by the Government of the day. It was cheaper to send children to Australia than care for them on British soil.

Margaret Humphreys uncovered the scandal behind the scheme after she received a letter from a woman who said she had been put on a boat at the age of four and wanted to trace her parents.

She set up the Child Migrants Trust in 1987 and has campaigned to reunite former child migrants with their families over the last 22 years.

BBC documentary

BBC Inside Out followed the story of the children who were deported to Australia.

Those who suffered the harshest treatment were the boys sent to Bindoon, an isolated institution north of Perth.

The Catholic Christian Brothers ran it but British children built it. Forced to do hard labour until they were 16 years old some had unimaginable abuse inflicted on them.

Not all the children deported to Australia after World War Two experienced hard times. Some have done well for themselves.

But the majority struggled after suffering the loss of their childhood and any sense of family. In the worst cases the children are dead or in institutions.

Hollywood film

A Hollywood film telling Ms Humphrey's story is now in production.

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