[From the National Library of Australia's Forgotten Australians and Former Child Migrants oral history project]
Peter Bidwell, born in London (1944), discusses memories of his mother placing him in Nazareth House, Romsey (1948); reasons why he was placed in care; memories of nuns and children there; dormitories; regimentation and chores; punishments; schooling; fairs and fireworks; memories of general happiness; being interviewed and intelligence tested at age nine to go to Australia; authorities not checking if he was an orphan; memories of departing Nazareth by train; the boat voyage to Australia; arriving in Fremantle, W.A. and being bussed to Clontarf Boys Orphanage; photos; dormitories and farm buildings; daily routine; the brothers; meals; hunger and finding his own food; sport; church; clothing and belongings; the treatment of bed wetters; punishments and abuse; children adopting an Australian accent; feelings of not wanting to 'stand out'; staying elsewhere at holidays; the trauma of migration and harsh treatment; standing up for himself; receiving a scholarship to a wealthy school; favourite subjects; misbehaviour.
Bidwell discusses leaving school at age 16; sport; employment and accommodation; socialising, friends and relationships; keeping his background to himself; moving to Sydney; curiosity about his parents; his career in banking; his reaction to receiving his birth certificate; his reaction by his relatives when he made contact; visiting and living in England; his relationship with his mother; his friendship with his cousin, Barbara Henderson; meeting and marrying (1976) his wife, Jasmine Bidwell; his relationship with his step-daughter; having family responsibilities; the impact of institutionalization on later life; his feelings about being placed in care; the supportiveness of his wife's family; his enjoyment of being in a family; hard work and responsibility; becoming a qualified accountant (2007); his feelings about religion and confession; his feelings about leaving Australia; cultural identity and identifying as Australian; his feelings about not having Australian citizenship; compensation; a documentary about his life; the Australian and British Apologies; his feelings about not meeting his father; his feelings about child migration and family relationships.
Prepared by: Debra Rosser
Created: 24 August 2012, Last modified: 8 December 2014