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Western Australia - Glossary Term

Sending Agency

A sending agency is the name given to the organisation responsible for arranging the migration of children to Western Australia from the UK or Malta. The term is used mostly for post-World War II migration, but includes some organisations that sent children to Australia before that time.


Lost Innocents: Righting the Record Report on Child Migration outlined the role of the sending agencies. The 1946 Empire Settlement Act enabled the British Government 'in partnership with the Australian Government' to enter into agreements with each of the sending agencies, as follows:

The voluntary societies and sending agencies were responsible for the administration of the schemes. They were required to provide information to the UK Secretary of State for his authorisation to migrate children. However, 'it appears that in practice they dealt with all decision making processes and procedures in relation to the selection of children, consents and migration arrangements' (p.26)

There was a similar type of agreement between the Australian and Maltese governments:

In February 1950 a formal agreement between the Maltese Government and the Catholic hierarchy in Australia was signed with Australian Government approval regarding child emigration from Malta. The Agreement provided that 'the [Maltese] Minister shall undertake all the general administrative work in Malta connected with the said scheme including the selection of the children under the control of the Maltese Government and their approval by the Australian Government and the Australian Catholic Church Immigration Authorities prior to embarkation for Australia'. The Agreement also provided that the Catholic Immigration Committee 'undertake that the training of the children admitted to the Institutions under this Agreement shall be of the kind that shall fit them for life in Australia' (pp.119-120).

The key sending agencies responsible for child migration to Western Australia were:

  • Advisory Council of Empire Settlement (Church of England)
  • Catholic Child Welfare Council
  • Child Emigration Society (Fairbridge)
  • National Children's Homes (Methodist Church)

Children from Malta came through the Catholic Church hierarchy rather than separate sending agencies.


Online Resources

Sources used to compile this entry: Parliament of Australia Senate, Lost Innocents: Righting the Record Report on Child Migration, Community Affairs References Committee, Senate Printing Unit, Canberra, 2001, pp.26, 119-120..

Prepared by: Debra Rosser