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Catholic group welcomes Govt action on child migrants

The convenor of the Catholic Church Joint Liaison Group on Child Migration Br Tony Shanahan has largely welcomed the Federal Government's announcement of a $3.7 assistance package and statement of regret for injustices suffered by child migrants.

About 3000 children arrived in Australia from Britain and Malta after World War II under a government-sponsored scheme. Many were told they were orphans when in fact their families had placed them in care only for the short term in war-ravaged Britain.

"We've been calling for some time for governments - state and federal, as well as the British government - to be involved in responding to the needs of former child migrants," said Br Shanahan. "Because they, along with the various sending and receiving organisations, such as some of the Catholic church organisations, were all part of the whole picture."

Australia's travel fund effectively matched the British government fund, he said. But he said some child migrants could be disadvantaged with money channelled only into the Child Migrants Trust, not other organisations that helped them trace relatives.

The package includes $1 million per year for three years in travel funding to help former child migrants reunite with their families. It also includes a $100,000 contribution to state-initiated memorials. And $125,000 per year will be allocated to the Child Migrants Trust for family tracing and counselling.

The move follows a Senate enquiry into the plight of child migrants.

Lost Innocents: Righting the Record - Senate Committee Report (Aug 01)


14 May 2002