Child migration began in the colonial period and continued throughout Tasmanian history but the biggest wave was of British children arriving between 1949 and 1976. During that phase, the British and Australian governments sponsored the children but they were nominated and supervised by a voluntary organisation.
In 1924, 71 boys came to Tasmania under the Youths for Farm Work Scheme, a Commonwealth government initiative that gave assisted passage to British boys so that they could work on farms in Australia. Under the Youths for Farm Work Scheme, boys aged 14 to 16 received an assisted passage of £12. On arrival they worked on farms for a set period of time in order to pay it off. Seventy-one boys in six parties of eleven or twelve arrived in Tasmania in 1924. Most of them were city boys who had been unemployed for some time so that they were not suited to farm work. The Tasmanian Director of Labour and State Immigration recommended that the Scheme be stopped until the method of selection had been improved. After that, no more boys arrived.
The Tasmanian Government's submission to the Inquiry into Child Migration stated that 300 'child migrants' were sent to Tasmania between 1949 and 1976. However, this number included 161 children aged 15 to 17 years sent under the auspices of the Big Brother Movement and 54 children sent under the Fairbridge scheme whereby children migrated in advance of, or accompanied by, one or both parents.
Between 73 and 77 child migrants came from Britain to Tasmania and were placed in children's institutions. Organisations that had been endorsed by the Commonwealth government to bring child migrants to Australia were known as approved institutions or approved organisations.
Thirty-nine of these children went to Boys' Town in Glenorchy. In the late 1940s, Hagley Farm School near Launceston received one Greek and two Belgian orphans nominated by a private individual. Between 1952 and 1955, an additional nine child migrants arrived there from Britain under the Fairbridge scheme. From 1958, Tresca, located in Exeter and run by the Fairbridge Society, received 13 children. Another 18 child migrants went to Clarendon Children's Home.
St Joseph's Orphanage in Hobart applied for child migrants but failed to gain approval.
St Joseph's Waterton Hall gained approval but never received any migrants.
Some children went to private individuals. However, the authorities did not like this arrangement because, if the relationship between child and adopted parents broke down, the state was forced to take the child into care. The government preferred a voluntary organisation to nominate the child and then place them with individuals after they had arrived. Applicants considered to be too old or with an inadequate income were turned down. However, in 1960, 47 out of 68 migrant children supervised by the Child Welfare Division had arrived through private nomination suggesting that this practice had become more common by then.
Although the wave of child migration associated with World War Two came to an end in 1976, a few child migrants continued to arrive in Tasmania. Most of them came to be adopted.
Sources used to compile this entry: 'Orphans as migrants', Examiner, 20 July 1949, p. 4. Also available at http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article52687299; Social Services Department: report for the year ended 30th June 1960, Social Services Department, Hobart, 1960; Department of Social Welfare: report for the year ended 30 June 1979, Department of Social Welfare, Hobart, 1979; Coldrey, Barry, Good British stock: child and youth migration to Australia, National Archives of Australia, 1999, https://www.naa.gov.au/help-your-research/research-guides/good-british-stock-child-and-youth-migration-australia; Council of Australasian Archives and Records Authorities, Child Migrants: Accessing records held by Commonwealth and State Archives, CAARA, 2010; Senate Community Affairs References Committee Secretariat, Parliament of Australia, Lost innocents: righting the record - report on child migration, Commonwealth of Australia, 30 August 2001, http://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Committees/Senate/Community_Affairs/Completed_inquiries/1999-02/child_migrat/index; Williams, Laura, 'Good British stock: British child migration to Tasmania after 1945', Tasmanian Historical Studies, vol. 5, no. 1, 1995/6, pp. 155-177.
Prepared by: Caroline Evans
Created: 12 January 2011, Last modified: 13 February 2019