Sunday, March 04, 2018

IICSA report on child migration programmes

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The Independent Inquiry on Child Sexual Abuse is not attracting much media attention, even though its hearings on Cyril Smith and Knowl View appear to have led to the resignation of the Labour leader of Rochdale.Borough Council.

It has now produced its first report, which is Child Migration Programmes and it appears to be a good piece of work.

It bears out what another of my alter egos, Professor Strange, has argued. These programmes were not a secret, as later commentators so often maintain: they were widely discussed and controversial at the time.

Here is the report on the response to this of Her Majesty's Government:
Many reports on child migration were available to HMG during the 1950s. Perhaps the most significant was the Ross report (1956). Ross visited 26 out of 39 institutions in Australia to which British child migrants were sent. 
The reports on many of these places were extremely critical. The conditions at several of them were judged to be so bad that they were put on a ‘blacklist’ and regarded as not fit to receive any more child migrants. Still, HMG did nothing effective to protect the children. 
We concluded that the main reason for HMG’s failure to act was the politics of the day, which were consistently prioritised over the welfare of children. HMG was reluctant to jeopardise relations with the Australian government by withdrawing from the scheme, and also to upset philanthropic organisations such as Barnardo’s and the Fairbridge Society. 
Many such organisations enjoyed patronage from persons of influence and position, and it is clear that in some cases the avoidance of embarrassment and reputational risk was more important than the institutions’ responsibilities towards migrated children.

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