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WA Christian Brothers leader sets record straight on child migration


The Christian Brothers' Holy Spirit Province Leader Br Tony Shanahan has written a strongly-worded letter to a Perth newspaper to set the record straight on a series of popular misconceptions reported by a columnist.

Br Shanahan's letter, which refers to errors made by Sunday Times columnist Liam Bartlett, is yet to be published by The Sunday Times. It was printed in the 24 May edition of the Perth Archdiocesan Catholic paper, The Record.

Commenting on the slant of the reporting, he said: "My frustration at media coverage that reduces the problems of child migration to a Catholic problem is exacerbated when no mention is made of the ways in which the Catholic Church has tried to hold itself to account. There is no mention of the public apologies or the millions of dollars that have been spent by the Catholic Church in assisting former child migrants."

The Sunday Times doubled the number of UK child migrants sent to Australia between 1947 and 1967, and it suggested that that the only motivation for the scheme was "to populate the colonies with 'good white stock'".

Br Shanahan questioned the columnist's declaration that "the result was a disaster": "Many former child migrants say they are glad they came to Australia and are grateful for their life here. They don't regard their experience as 'a disaster'."

He also questioned the columnist's claim that "most cases" of abuse involved the Christian Brothers, who took in about 12% of the total. "No one has the sort of information that could justify Mr Bartlett's sweeping generalisation."

Br Shanahan said: "The insinuations about the deaths of boys at Bindoon and Tardun was first raised in a television program in 1996, and the WA Coroner at that time asked for a tape of the program and sought information about the circumstances of these boys' deaths. Despite my repeated requests for feedback, I have heard nothing from the Coroner since 1997. I can only conclude that the Coroner is not in possession of the sort of evidence that would prompt urgent action."


Newman Graduate


28-May-01