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Queensland - Event

Child and Youth Migration to Queensland (c. 1922 - c. 1967)

c. 1922
c. 1967

An estimated five to ten thousand child and youth migrants from both Britain and Malta came to Australia between1922 and 1967. Most of these child and youth migrants were placed in charitable and religious institutions. In the 1920s, Queensland was involved in a 'farm learners' scheme which saw child and youth migrants come to Riverview Training Farm, run by the Salvation Army. After World War Two, child migrants came to Riverview as well as to St Joseph's Home, Neerkol, run by the Sisters of Mercy. Compared with other Australian states, Queensland's intake of child and youth migrants was small, only around 4.5 per cent of the total numbers. From 2000 to 2001 there was a Senate inquiry into child migration to Australia. In 2009, the Australian government apologised to Forgotten Australians and Former Child Migrants.


The British Child migration scheme to the British Empire lasted 350 years with the final group of children departing for Australia in 1967. After World War Two children were sent to Australia from the United Kingdom as a way of increasing Australia's population and as a means of rescuing poor and abandoned children from British institutions. They were unaccompanied by families and had no such ties in Australia. Although it was claimed these children were orphans, most were not, but had been placed in state care when parents were temporarily unable to care for them because of marriage breakdown, illegitimacy and temporary economic hardship. The British, Commonwealth and State Governments contributed financially to the scheme.

In its submission to the Inquiry into Child Migration in 2001, the Queensland Government stated that a total of 125 British child migrants were admitted to two homes between 1950-51 and 1958-9.

By 1967 all child migrants to Neerkol had been discharged from state care.



  • Department of Families, Missing pieces: information to assist former residents of children's institutions to access records, State of Queensland, 2001. Details
  • Mary Christina, Sister, The quality of mercy: the story of the Sisters of Mercy in central Queensland, Catholic Leader Press, Brisbane, 1964, 178 pp. Details


Online Resources

Prepared by: Rosemary Francis and Cate O'Neill