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The Leaving of Liverpool

The Leaving of Liverpool, 1992, courtesy of National Film and Sound Archive.

The Leaving of Liverpool

This website has two excerpts from 'The Leaving of Liverpool', a television program produced in 1992. 'The Leaving of Liverpool' was a dramatized account of unaccompanied child migration from Britain to Australia. Its impact in putting child migration 'on the map' in terms of awareness among the general population and those people who had come to Western Australia as child migrants was significant. The program was based on the book, Lost Children of the Empire. It was screened in Britain as well as in Australia and was mentioned in parliamentary inquiries in both countries.

[From the Australian Screen synopsis and curator's notes]

The story of two young lives caught up in the British child migration schemes of the 1950s. Lily (Christine Tremarco) and Bert (Kevin Jones), are transported from an orphanage in Liverpool, England to the other side of the world, to Australia, where their childhoods are stolen from them in so-called 'centres of care' where they are brutalised by those whose responsibility is to equip them for their new life. Their extraordinary strength of character and love for each other enables them to break out of the dehumanising world into which they have been thrown.

The writer of this series, John Alsop, was still working with co-writer, Sue Smith when he read a review of the recently published book called Lost Children of the Empire. John approached ABC's then head of drama Penny Chapman with this absolutely unknown story. She immediately offered development funds for Alsop and Smith to research the story in the UK. The BBC came on board. Penny Chapman recalls that the program generated huge public interest, picked up and kept alive by news and current affairs programs both in Australia and the UK.

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