Fairbridge Farm School was established at Molong in 1938 by Fairbridge Farm Schools of New South Wales, as a home for child migrants, aged four to 18, who travelled from the United Kingdom under the Fairbridge Society. Around 1,000 children lived at Molong over a 35 year period, including Australian-born children who were also sent to the farm school. It closed in 1973.
Molong, near Orange, was the primary destination for children arriving in New South Wales under the Fairbridge Scheme. It was based on the ideas of Kingsley Fairbridge that underprivileged children from the United Kingdom could be brought to Australia and placed in the country, where the boys could become farmers and the girls farmers' wives. Although the memories of people who went to Fairbridge Farm School are varied, the reality was Fairbridge Farm School 'trained' the boys to be farmers' labourers and the girls to be domestic servants. Children received little in the way of education.
Children's experiences at the home depended on the character and temperament of the cottage mothers and the other workers who staffed the farm. Former Fairbridge resident David Hill, who wrote The Forgotten Children: Fairbridge Farm School and its betrayal of Australia's child migrants, has written of many instances of cruelty and abuse that occurred at the farm school. He states that children who were suffering cruelty and abuse felt they had no one to turn to, even when inspectors from the Child Welfare Department visited.
In the 1950s and 1960s, as the numbers of children entering Australian through the Fairbridge Scheme declined, the Society invited single parents to send their children ahead of them and join them two years later. A number of people took up this offer, including the mother of David Hill.
To keep up the numbers, Australian-born children were sent to the farm at Molong, by their parents or by welfare agencies. Despite this, the farm was unviable and it was closed in 1973 and sold to a private owner in 1974. The funds and the records of the home and the Fairbridge Farm Schools of New South Wales were handed to a new body, the Fairbridge Foundation.
Former residents of the Farm School have formed an Old Fairbridgians Association, based in Molong. It is made up mainly of children who went through Fairbridge, and has associate members, such as ex staff, spouses and children of Old Fairbridgians.
In 2021, the Commonwealth and New South Wales governments have agreed to be a funder of last resort for this institution. This means that although the institution is now defunct, it is participating in the National Redress Scheme, and the government has agreed to pay the institution's share of costs of providing redress to a person (as long as the government is found to be equally responsible for the abuse a person experienced).
Sources used to compile this entry: 'The Forgotten Australians - Fairbridge Farm School, Molong', in Migration Heritage Centre New South Wales, Migration Heritage Centre New South Wales, NSW Government, 2010, http://www.migrationheritage.nsw.gov.au/exhibition/fairbridge/fairbridge-transcripts/; Coldrey, Barry, Good British stock: child and youth migration to Australia, This is a research guide published by the National Archives of Australia. It contains detailed historical information about Australia's immigration policy and child and youth migration to Australia. It also has information about relevant archival records in Australia and overseas relating to child and youth migration., National Archives of Australia, 1999, https://www.naa.gov.au/help-your-research/research-guides/good-british-stock-child-and-youth-migration-australia; Hill, David, The Forgotten Children: Fairbridge Farm School and its betrayal of Australia's child migrants, Random House, North Sydney, 2007, 338 pp; Hyde, Penny, Investigating Molong's Fairbridge Farm School, ABC Central West NSW, 1 March 2013, http://www.abc.net.au/local/stories/2013/02/28/3700718.htm; Molong Historical Society, Fairbridge and the Molong Community, Migration Heritage Centre New South Wales: NSW Government, 2010, http://www.migrationheritage.nsw.gov.au/projects/fairbridge-farm-school/; Old Fairbridgians Association, History of Fairbridge Farm School Molong NSW, Old Fairbridgians Association/Molong Historical Society, http://www.users.on.net/~quincejam/farm.html; O'Neill, Cate; Rosser, Debra, Fairbridge (c. 1909 - ), Find & Connect web resource, Find & Connect web resource project for the Commonwealth of Australia, 2013, http://www.findandconnect.gov.au/ref/wa/biogs/WE00270b.htm.
Prepared by: Naomi Parry
Created: 14 August 2013, Last modified: 5 November 2021