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Western Australia - Event

Inquiry into child migration (2000 - 2001)


On 20 June 2000, on the motion of Senator Andrew Murray, the Senate referred the issue of child migration to the Community Affairs References Committee for inquiry and report. In their submission to the inquiry, the Western Australian Department for Family and Children's Services stated that 1,290 child migrants were sent to WA prior to World War II and that 1,651 children were sent under the post-war migration schemes. Most were sent to charitable and religious institutions. Many child migrants later claimed that they were ill-treated in the institutions to which they were sent. The resulting report Lost innocents: righting the record - inquiry into child migration was tabled on 30 August 2001.


Andrew Murray, who was sent to from Britain to Zimbabwe as a child migrant under the Fairbridge scheme, is a former Senator for the Australian Democrats who represented Western Australia. He is well-known for his efforts to raise awareness about child migration and the impact of being in institutional 'care' as a child. He has advocated not only for remedial services to address these impacts, but for lessons to be learnt from them:

The message I want to bring home in this public policy field is this one - we are not just dealing with problems of the past. We are dealing with problems of the present and of the future. And those problems are very costly to the individuals affected, to society and to the economy.

Andrew Murray retired from the Senate prior to the November 2007 federal election. His term expired on 30 June 2008.

Lost Innocents gave the following information about government-assisted child migration to WA:

  • Thirteen children who came via the Fairbridge Society in 1913 were the first group to arrive.
  • In 1938 and 1939, three groups of boys (116 children in all) came to Christian Brothers institutions.
  • Up till 1939, 1,174 child migrants had come to WA through the Fairbridge scheme.
  • Immigration stopped during World War II.
  • In 1947, child migration resumed, with children coming from the United Kingdom and Malta. Of these 'post-war' child migrants:
  • 1,520child migrants were sent to Fairbridge Farm, Pinjarra.
  • 1,140 child migrants were sent to the Christian Brothers - Bindoon, Castledare, Clontarf or Tardun.
  • 273 child migrants were sent to Swan Homes, Middle Swan.
  • 110 child migrants were sent to St Joseph's, Leederville [Subiaco].
  • 96 child migrants were sent to Nazareth House, Geraldton.
  • 30 child migrants were sent to St Vincent's, Leederville [Subiaco].
  • 8 child migrants were sent to Methodist Homes for Children, Victoria Park.
  • The final group of child migrants arrived in 1965.



  • Bean, Philip and Melville, Joy, Lost Children of the Empire, Unwin Hyman, London, 1990. Details
  • Humphreys, Laurie, A Chip off What Block?, Laurie Humphreys, Samson, Western Australia, 2007. Details
  • Humphreys, Margaret, Empty Cradles, Doubleday, London; Sydney, 1994. Details
  • Humphreys, Margaret, Oranges and Sunshine, Corgi, London, 2010. Details
  • Plowman, David, Enduring Struggle, Scholastic Press Australia, Broadway, Nedlands, Western Australia, 2003. Details

Online Resources


Murray, Andrew
Murray, Andrew
1996 - 2007
Parliament of Australia


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,

Prepared by: Debra Rosser