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Child Emigration from Britain - Australia

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  • Winifred Main (1941 - 2005)
    Sent to Fairbridge Farm School in Pinjarra, Western Australia as a Child Migrant together with her brother, Private User
Image right - Boy ploughing at Dr. Barnardo's Industrial Farm, Russell, Manitoba, 1900. In 2010, the photo was reproduced on a Canadian postage stamp commemorating Home Children emigration.
Image right - Collections Canada Public Domain, Wiki Commons

Child emigration was undertaken by religious and charitable organisations. One of the earliest of these being The Children's Friend Society founded in London in 1830, as the Society for the Suppression of Juvenile Vagrancy, through the reformation and emigration of children. In 1832 the first party of children were sent to the Cape of Good Hope and Swan River Colony in Australia.

In 1844 the Ragged School Movement began, and sent out 150 children to New South Wales in 1849. In 1850 Parliament legalised Poor Law Guardians to fund emigration of children to the colonies.

Between 1870 and 1914 some 80,000 child emigrants, often known as "British Home Children", were sent out to Canada alone, many as part of the Farm School Movement. After the interruption of the First World War child migration recommenced and following the Empire Settlement Act of 1923, the British Government supplied financial assistance to care societies to assist with migration, especially to farm school establishments. Australia became the main destination instead of Canada due to the effects of the Great Depression in the 1930s. Child migration schemes continued until the outbreak of the Second World War.

After the end of the war there were no ships available to take children to Australia until 1947, but there were now fewer British children sent as migrants, and the majority of these were sent out by the Catholic Church to Western Australia. Youth migration became more popular than child migration. In 1956 British Catholic care institutions ceased sending children out to Australia, following a critical report of a Home Office Fact-Finding Committee's inspection of the Australian institutions. The last nine child migrants to Australia were sent out by air by Barnardo's in 1967.

There were a number of organizations responsible for the emigration such as: Barnardo’s, Annie Macpherson, Maria Rye, Fegan Homes, Dr. Stephenson and the National Children’s Home.

The object of this project is to identify any child emigrants whose family histories have been added to Geni and link them to the list below.

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