top of page
Listen Now.png
Photos (1).png

In 1949, 13 year old Pamela Smedley boarded a ship with 27 other girls from a Catholic orphanage in Britain. The nuns told them they were going on a day trip. The girls were excited, happy to be out in the world, on an adventure. According to Pamela, quote “We thought it would be like going to Scarborough for the day because we were so innocent and naive.” But they weren’t going to Scarborough. They were going to Australia, for good. Four extremely difficult decades would pass before Pamela would return home to Britain and finally reunite with her family, her mother who had been waiting for her all those years, wondering. The girls on that ship were part of Britain’s child migrant program which sent an estimated 150,000 children to Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and Rhodesia during the 19th and 20th centuries. The press at the time reported that these children were being sent to loving families, taken into homes, and raised in caring environments. But did you know, that was all a lie? Let’s fix that. 


Hello, I’m Shea LaFountaine and you’re listening to History Fix, where I discuss lesser known true stories from history you won’t be able to stop thinking about. By the time Pamela Smedley unknowingly boarded that ship to Australia, child migrants were nothing new, for Britain, at least. In 1618 the Virginia Company sent 100 children to the Jamestown colony to boost the population and provide labor for plantations. Some of these children were orphans. Some had been given up by their families who couldn’t afford to care for them, at the time. It was England’s way of killing two birds with one stone. We’ll get rid of these street rats, these burdens on society and we’ll boost our floundering population over in Virginia. They can work on the plantations - yes, these are children. They’ll have a better life there. But, if you listened to episode 24 about Pocahontas, you know enough about Jamestown to know they most certainly did not have a better life there. So, that was the first instance of Britain, which was England back then, exploiting children for selfish reasons and then pretending that it was for the good of the child. But, unfortunately, that was only the very beginning. 


Next up was Canada. I went most of my life not realizing that Canada still had ties to the UK. It does. Basically, Canada, which was first occupied by indigenous Americans, of course, was later colonized by both the French and the English. I realize I’m saying England, Britain, UK kind of interchangeably - I hope that’s not confusing anyone - it’s all kind of the same place just called different things depending on the time period. Actually, side note, I got raked over the coals by the Brits on TikTok for saying England in regards to Jamestown instead of Britain or whatever… something about a “stupid American,” yada yada. It wasn’t very nice BUT, y’all, I was right to say England. It was called England in 16 whatever ya dum dums. It didn’t become Great Britain until 1707. Shouldn’t you know this as a British person? I’m just a stupid American. How am I outsmarting you about your own country? Sorry, anyway, TikTok is cruel and unusual and I feel like I’m way too old and wise for it. Instagram is for intellectuals. But I still do TikTok cause it’s weirdly viral… which, yeah that checks out. 


Anyway, way off topic. So, Canada colonized by French and English until 1763 when France gave Canada to Great Britain at the end of the French and Indian War slash Seven Years War. And with that, Canada was fully under British control. But it wasn’t smooth sailing. They were right next to the US which was hating on Britain right now with the Revolutionary War, War of 1812, all that. Crazy that America and Britain used to fight each other and now were like buds, or whatever. Except on TikTok, I guess. There were also problems in Canada between the French speaking and English speaking colonists. They did not get along. And it was just super expensive to govern colonies that far away. So in 1867, Britain united the colonies of Canada, Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick to form the Dominion of Canada which was no longer a colony and now able to govern itself with its own laws and financial independence. But it was still ultimately under British rule because a British governor-general was in charge of the Dominion. In 1931, the UK gave all of its dominions full legal freedom as their own countries but it could still amend the Canadian constitution. So, yeah, I don’t know if I would call that full legal freedom, but whatever.


It wasn’t until 1982 that Canada adopted its own constitution and became a completely independent county. 1982! But it is, to this day, still part of the Commonwealth which, according to the Oxford dictionary is quote “an international association consisting of the UK together with states that were previously part of the British Empire, and dependencies. The British monarch is the symbolic head of the Commonwealth. “ end quote. So that means Charles III is technically king of Canada. He has no power there, but he is their symbolic king. 


Australia - also part of the commonwealth. Actually, the commonwealth includes 56 countries that are home to almost one third of the world’s population. And my mind is blown by that. I had no idea. Anyway. That’s how Canada is still tied to the UK. We’ll get into Australia soon. I’m starting with Canada because that’s where Britain started sending its child migrants next. 


Between 1869 and 1939, Britain, now technically the United Kingdom or UK as of 1801 (back off TikTok), sent around 100,000 children to Canada. Today, an estimated 10 percent of Canada’s total population is believed to be descendants of those children. According to the Government of Canada Library Archives website, these child migrants were called “home children,” and they were sent from children’s homes, orphanages, in the UK to quote “Canadian receiving homes” and, according to the Canadian government at least, most of them ended up being placed with families in rural Canada. But, you know, I don’t even know if I believe that. That’s what they said happened in Australia too, for decades and decades and it couldn’t have been farther from the truth. 


Let’s jump over to Australia. By the way, this episode is for Jo who requested an Australia themed episode over on Instagram, the land of mature intellectuals. Australia has a lot of interesting history so this will not be my last Australia episode. But this one’s for you Jo. Australia is similar to Canada when it comes to its relationship to the UK - former colony, now an independent country with its own laws and such, but still part of the commonwealth, and the king of England, Charles III, is the symbolic head of state in Australia. Which doesn’t mean a whole lot but whatever. Australia, of course, has much seedier beginnings than Canada as a penal colony but, I’ll save that for another time. 


After World War II, the UK was very concerned about Australia. It was a large, underpopulated area of land quite close to some of the nations that they just fought against, and beat, in the war. They were concerned that Australia could be in danger, alienated so far from the UK with all these enemies about. Plus white people of British descent were the minority in Australia. They were feeling threatened for sure. They decided they needed to do something about this Australian population problem. And when I say population, of course, I’m referring to the white population because there were many aboriginal people also living in Australia, but they didn’t count unfortunately. So they went back to one of their old tricks - child migrants. Australia was like “send um on over! All the white kids. We’ll take any white kid you want to get rid off. White kids only, of course, Europe? Where you at? Got white kids? We’ll take um.” and they invited basically all of Europe to send child migrants to Australia. The UK did, of course, sending up to 10,000 children between the ages of 3 and 14 to Australia between the 1930s and 1970. Malta also sent 100 children. Where the heck is Malta, right? It’s in the Mediterranean, like south of Italy. It was basically part of the UK at the time though. It didn’t gain its independence until 1964 so, still just the UK. The other European countries… crickets. Not a one, not a single child sent from any of the other European countries Australia invited to join in on this little plot. 


So at the time these children are being sent, we have to look at what’s happening in the world. It’s World War II, or directly after. The world is in shambles. Overall population is down because of overwhelming loss of life. Everybody is pretty freaked out and they halfway convince themselves that they’re doing something good with this child migrant program. I think a lot of people thought it was a win win. That’s certainly how the press presented it to the public anyway. They said, “we have all these orphans from the war, all these kids living in these institutions, we’re going to send them to Australia, this land of milk and honey, where they will be adopted by loving families who will raise them as their own. They will have better lives there.” That’s a cause people could get behind. And they did. Ultimately this program was government funded but it was carried out by charitable organizations - the Salvation Army, the Fairbridge Society, the National Children's Home, Barnardos children’s charity, as well as many churches and church run institutions for children. And I have to believe that most of these people thought they were helping these children, that the goal of the program was to give these kids a better life. 


But it wasn’t. That is clearly illustrated in this speech given by the Archbishop of Perth in 1938 as he welcomed British children arriving in Australia as part of the migrant program. He said, quote “When empty cradles are contributing woefully to empty spaces, it is necessary to look for external sources of supply. If we do not supply from our own stock, we are leaving ourselves all the more exposed to the menace of the teeming millions of our neighbouring Asiatic races.” end quote. Which, by the way, is not kid friendly language. It’s clear he’s not actually addressing the children here. No one ever does. Allow me to translate. “There aren’t enough white people in Australia. We need to bring more white people here from other white countries or we’ll be dangerously outnumbered by people of color.” That’s what he said. So that’s the real goal of the whole program. Get rid of the poor kids in the UK, the burdens on society, send them to Australia to bulk up the white population. It was never about bettering the lives of the children themselves. 


Many of these children were not actually orphans. Pamela Smedly from the opener, she was not an orphan. Her mother was alive and well, she was just unmarried and Catholic when she gave birth to Pamela. And because that was a huge no no, she was pressured into giving Pamela up as a baby. She was sent to live under the care of nuns at the Nazareth House which provided care for poor elderly people and also destitute and orphaned Catholic girls. So Pamela grew up in this home for girls, not because her parents were dead, just because society at the time did not allow an unwed mother to raise a child on her own. It’s messed up, but that’s a whole nother issue. Many of the child migrants were in this same situation - given up by their parents for whatever reason. Often it was just that they were too poor to afford adequate care for their children. They gave them up believing that they would be adopted by families that would give them a good life. Or they gave them to institutions like the Nazareth House thinking they could come back later to reclaim them once they were in a more stable position and could care for a child. 


So, they sent children from institutions like this to Australia without even telling their parents - a 10,000 mile 6 week long boat trip. They often told the children that their parents had died and they were now orphans, which wasn’t true. What a horrible, horrible lie to tell a child as young as 3 or 4 years old. According to Pamela in a BBC article titled “The 13-year-old girl sent on a ‘day trip’ to Australia” quote “The nuns said that in Australia you could pick the oranges off the trees, and I was very excited because I loved oranges.” Ugh, it's just so sick and sad. The trickery and the exploitation of their innocence. These poor girls. They had no idea how far Australia was. They thought they were going on a day trip to pick oranges and instead they were being shipped off as far away as possible, away from everything and everyone they had ever known, disposed of. Once on the boat they were told they were going to be adopted by families in Australia. But that was another lie. According to Pamela, quote “when we found out we had traveled 10,000 miles just to be put in another orphanage we all just cried and cried.” 


Pamela spent the next 2 years at the Sisters of Mercy Goodwood Orphanage which was run by nuns and home to around 100 children. According to that BBC article I mentioned earlier, when the children arrived at Goodwood, all of their personal belongings were taken from them, all photographs, letters, toys, anything with any sentimental value, was taken and they were given only a bible. Pamela reported that everyone was afraid of the Reverend Mother, even the other nuns. She wore a strap around her waist that her rosaries hung from but often used it as a whip to beat the children. According to Pamela quote “at night she would walk up and down the dormitories and if you so much as twitched in your bed you'd get the strap.” Pamela once yelled out “God Bless England” defiantly during morning prayers and was given quote “the thrashing of her life” by the Reverend Mother for this. Because she missed England. It was the only home she had known and she was tricked into leaving it. 


The children at Goodwood said their prayers, did their chores, had school, did more chores, said more prayers then went to bed by 6 pm. They also worked a few hours a day making the strings that butchers used to hang meat which Pamela says made their fingers bleed and quote “if you did anything wrong the penalty was an extra 100 strings and the nun in charge would hit us with her walking stick.” end quote. 


This sort of child labor was common within the child migrant program. It was portrayed as a way of teaching the children important skills and trades but really, it was just free labor, slave labor, really, because they obviously couldn’t say no without being beaten. Yeah, that’s slavery. 


Every once in a while, a priest would come to check on them. The nuns would stand right next to the children as they were questioned, ensuring that they wouldn’t say anything too honest without facing serious consequences once the priest was gone. According to Pamela quote “toys would appear in time for his inspections, but as soon as he left they were taken away.” 


In 1956 though, a report came out by the British Home Office after inspections of these child migrant homes in Australia and it was pretty damning, revealing that the children were not, in fact, being adopted by loving families. However, according to that BBC article, the parts of the report containing the worst of the findings were kept confidential and not publicly released until 1983. So the child migrant program continued. According to Gordon Lynch, a professor of modern theology at the University of Kent and curator of an exhibit about this at the V&A museum of childhood in London, quote “Furthering the British Empire was still very much a priority and there was also a fear of going up against not only the Australian government, but the Catholic Church.” end quote. And then of course Australia came out with its own glowing reports of all the institutions that had been scrutinized during those 1956 inspections and they just carried on, shipping kids over for another decade. 


So we know about the physical abuse - children forced to do hard labor or be beaten by their supervisors. But there’s also the emotional abuse - being lied to that their parents had died, being separated from siblings, which was common. There was also a lot of sexual abuse going on. Pamela reported being assaulted on the voyage over to Australia when she was 13 and again after she left the orphanage and was working at an isolated sheep shearing station at the age of 15.  


According to a Guardian article by Melissa Davey called “Abused and publicly flogged: the UK child migrants sent for a better life in Australia,” the University of New South Wales is now leading a study into the experiences of these migrant children led by Professor Elizabeth Fernandez. According to Fernandez, of around 700 former child migrants surveyed and interviewed, 79% reported being physically abused, 86% reported emotional abuse, and a staggering 56% reported being sexually abused. That is ridiculous. 


While Pamela was surrendered by her mother at birth, others were not willingly given away. According to an article for the Guardian by Susan Chenery called “I couldn’t love her: the last UK child migrants to Australia on the long, lonely search for their mothers,” At the age of 71, Michael Lachman learned that his entire life was a lie. He had always thought he was an orphan, until he uncovered the truth. During World War II, his mother had left him at a residential nursery with letters explaining that she was only leaving him there until quote “daddy gets home from Japan and we will be making a home for little Michael.” Which, I didn’t know residential nurseries were even a thing. According to the article, there was no childcare unless you were very rich so Michael’s mother had to leave him at this place while she worked because his father was away at war and… I mean someone had to work. Which, y’all I’m gonna try not to get off on a tangent here but, there was no childcare unless you were very rich is kind of still true today and that’s terrifying. Anyway, Michael’s mother intended to come back for him when his father returned. She had to work. She was, Michael found out later, a German Jew who had escaped just before the war but her parents and brother had all died in the holocaust. She was working full time in the ministry of defense in intelligence. So she was a freaking super hero, basically, serving the country, doing incredibly dangerous work during an incredibly dangerous time, as was his father who was off fighting in Japan. They’re literally saving the world and they just need someone to take care of their kid for a minute. But no, before his mother could return for him, Michael was shipped off to Australia and placed in the Castledare Boys Home which was run by the Christian Brothers. Reports of starvation, beatings, and sexual abuse in this institution are widespread. 


It wasn’t until he was 71, that Michael learned the truth. He wasn’t an orphan, he was Jewish - he didn’t even know he was Jewish, his parents had wanted him. His mother had come looking for him in Australia two years after he arrived there but she couldn’t find him - his name had been changed. Actually, and this kills me, Michael and his mother whose name was Isla, both lived in Melbourne for a while and just never found each other, never met, wouldn’t have known it if they had met. By the time Michael even knew to look for her, Isla had died. In that Guardian article, Michael says quote “I was devastated by the fact that I couldn’t meet her, couldn’t see her and couldn’t love her. Put my arms around her, hug her, do all the things that a son would do to his mother. I never got the opportunity. No one can replace your mother, you have only got one mother in your life. ”  end quote. 


Patrick McGowan was surrendered to an orphanage in Northern Ireland when he was 3 years old. At the age of 11 he was sent to the notorious Bindoon Boys Town in Australia which was an isolated institution around 60 miles north of Perth, also run by the Christian Brothers. Victims of Bindoon also report hard labor, dangerous living conditions, starvation, and abuse. Patrick also believed he was an orphan, saying quote “If you tell a child their parents are dead, you are an orphan, nobody wants you, they are never going to ask. There was no one to protect them or comfort them. They knew no one was coming to rescue them.” end quote. Patrick, like Pamela and Michael, later learned he was not an orphan. He still had family in Ireland. He was able to reunite with some of them but is still actively searching for his mother, Mary Angela, who immigrated to America in 1949 to work in her aunt and uncle’s cafe in Yonkers, New York and then just disappeared. Patrick filed a missing persons report in Belfast and hasn’t given up his search. Mary Angela was born in 1918 so there’s very little chance she’s still alive, but he’d still like to know what happened to her, what her life was like.   


Then there’s the story of David Hill who was sent from the UK where he lived with his single mother and 3 brothers to the Fairbridge Farm School in Australia at the age of 12. David’s family was extremely poor. His mother could not afford to care for four boys. So they were presented with an opportunity. According to David, quote “The brochure was promoting a scheme where you take waif kids and kids of the pauper class and the slums before they could be corrupted by the poverty and crime of England and send them to Australia for education and opportunity in schools like Fairbridge, where we would become strong and long-limbed by working the farms… Parents were told, ‘If you really love your kids, you’ll make the ultimate sacrifice and send them away for opportunity and education.’ My brothers and I were old enough to be part of the decision and we all agreed it sounded like a fantastic idea.” end quote. 


So in 1959, David made the voyage to Australia with two of his brothers. But when they arrived, surprise, surprise, it was nothing like they had been promised. The education was poor. They mostly just did back-breaking labor on farms in brutal conditions. The food was terrible and scarce. Public floggings were the norm. After concerns about the program were raised in England, David’s mother made her way to Australia to check on her sons. Because, remember she hadn't given them up, hadn’t surrendered them like Pamela’s mother. She just sent them away for a better life. Think of it like free boarding school. According to David, quote “When my mum came to Australia and visited us, she was devastated. She kept on mumbling ‘Oliver Twist’ and she had to console us and herself because she couldn’t take us out. She was an unskilled migrant with no money and we had to stay.” What an absolutely heartbreaking scheme to have tricked all of these families into. 


Since then, David has poured a lot into uncovering the horrible truth of the child migrant program. He has interviewed many other children who were part of it, wrote a book called “The Forgotten Children,” and has worked as an advocate helping 150 child migrant victims secure a $24 million dollar settlement in 2015 against Fairbridge, the Australian federal government, and the state government of New South Wales.  


But before all of that. Before David published his book, before Pamela shared her story with BBC, before she returned home and was reunited with her mother after 41 years, a mother who thought she was living happily with an adoptive family in the UK all this time, who had no idea she was being abused in an institution 10,000 miles away. Before all of that, there was complete and total silence about all of this for decades. It’s like the world forgot it happened altogether. 


The child migrant program ended, for the most part, in the late 60s. But really, after the initial positive press at the onset of the program, no one talked about it. It was swept under the rug and by the 70s and 80s, no one even knew it had happened. In 1986, a British social worker named Margaret Humphreys received an interesting letter. It was from a woman named Madelyn who lived in Australia. In this letter, Madelyn told Margaret that she had been taken from a children's home in Britain when she was 4 years old and sent to Australia. She was told that her parents had died. So, why is Madelyn telling Margaret this? Well, Margaret ran a support service in the UK called Triangle, to provide support for people involved in adoption - birth parents, adoptive parents, and adults who had been adopted as children. When Margaret received this letter, she was stunned. It didn’t make any sense to her. Why would a 4 year old be sent to Australia without a guardian there to receive her? She thought that Madelyn must have been mistaken. But then, another woman came to one of her Triangle meetings. This woman had been adopted as a child and remembered, much later, once she was an adult, that she had had a brother before that. She started looking for her long lost brother, finally tracked him down, and learned that he had been sent to Australia. 


So now Margaret is like, what is going on here? Why were these children being sent to Australia? She headed down to Australia and started trying to track down the records of these children. She put ads in the newspapers asking people who had been sent to Australia from children's homes to write to her. They did. She received reports from many who claimed they were told their parents had died, many of their records had been destroyed, they didn’t know when their birthdays were. The allegations of abuse started pouring out - the back breaking labor, the poor living conditions, the sexual assaults, all of it. Margaret recruited a journalist to help her document and expose all of this. She started receiving death threats from people who did not want this history known but carried on and basically single handedly exposed this shameful, forgotten part of history. 


In 1989 a documentary came out about Margaret Humphrey’s work called “Lost Children of the Empire” and the whole thing just exploded. People started coming out of the woodwork, each with their own tragic experience to share as a former child migrant. Margaret established the Child Migrants Trust to help reunite these grown children with their families back in the UK, because, despite what they had been told, their parents were not dead. That same year, 1989, Pamela Smedley contacted the Child Migrants Trust which helped to reunite her with her mother Betsy a year later. The Child Migrants Trust is also how Michael Lachman found out who he really was. It’s also still actively searching for any trace of Patrick McGowan’s mother, Mary Angela, whose trail went cold in Yonkers, New York in the 1950s. 


So, late 80s all of this finally gets exposed, thanks to Margaret Humphreys. But a formal apology or even acknowledgement of the atrocities these children suffered at the hands of the government was not issued for another 20 years. In 2009, then prime minister of Australia, Kevin Rudd, issued this apology, quote “We are sorry. Sorry that as children you were taken from your families and placed in institutions where so often you were abused. Sorry for the physical suffering, the emotional starvation, and the cold absence of love, of tenderness, of care.” end quote. In 2010, UK prime minister Gordon Brown also apologized, saying quote “To all those former child migrants and their families... We are truly sorry. They were let down. We are sorry they were allowed to be sent away at the time when they were most vulnerable. We are sorry that instead of caring for them, this country turned its back. And we are sorry that the voices of these children were not always heard, their cries for help not always heeded. And we are sorry that it has taken so long for this important day to come and for the full and unconditional apology that is justly deserved.” yeah, slow clap. 


I learned about the child migrant program from an episode of the BBC period drama “Call the Midwife,” excellent show by the way, love it. But in one episode, children are removed from a home because their mother is unable to care for them, and, as they board a ship, smiling, the narrator explains quote “baby Coral was adopted and her three elder siblings were sent to Australia under the child migrant program. They were promised a life of sunshine, blue skies and endless opportunity. The truth was otherwise and the only consolation is that hope made them happy for a while.” end scene. Wait what? Yeah, I shouldn’t be learning about this from a fictional TV drama. This should be, everyone should know this. It’s just like the shady Slavery Abolition Act I talked about in episode 12, an absolute bombshell everyone found out about through twitter. Why? Why was this all so swept under the rug? Because it's shameful. The UK is notoriously tight lipped about anything that makes them look bad, come at me TikTok. These people are still alive. They are still being impacted by this, daily and we don’t even know about it? So, my whole thing is, this isn’t still happening, right? They’re no longer lying to children and sending them to Australia to work in, essentially, labor camps. This is a thing of the past. Apologies have been issued. Great. My problem is, the mentality that allowed this to happen, the social constructs that facilitated it have not changed, much. And to me, with this one, there is a great risk of history repeating itself here, especially if no one even knows about it. If we don’t know about mistakes of the past, we are doomed to repeat them. 


And I’ve worked with children, I’ve been in the institutions, I know what it’s like. My first teaching job was at a place called the Yahweh Center Children’s Village in Wilmington, NC. It was a residential psychiatric treatment facility for children… a nightmare of a place to work to be honest. And I can’t say enough good things about the people who worked there, they were saints and we were doing good work, necessary work, helping these children that desperately needed help. But I went weeks without a paycheck once. Then got a pay check and it bounced. After I left that job, the Yahweh Center filed for bankruptcy under allegations of mishandling donor money and not paying its staff. It eventually shut down. Not because it didn’t have the money - because it wasn’t spending it on what mattered - the children. 


Then I started teaching in North Carolina public schools which are horrifically underfunded. You guys - my take home paycheck for the month working a HARD, stressful job 50 plus hours a week - $2,300. To support my entire family of 4. That is laughable. Plus I was buying tons of supplies myself with zero reimbursement. No paid maternity leave at the time - none. Did you know, the US is the ONLY developed country in the world without federally mandated paid maternity leave? On top of that, I was asked to complete a 10 hour training unpaid while on unpaid maternity leave. I politely declined and also chose not to return after that maternity leave. I was a great teacher - highly educated, highly qualified, multiple professional licenses and degrees, plus I was really freaking good at it. I am no longer in the classroom, because you get what you pay for. And that breaks my heart. But I simply cannot afford to teach in North Carolina right now. And, I know, I know “we do it for the kids, not the money,” that’s what everyone says. And I did, I did it for the kids for a long time. But what about my kids? Should they be forced to live in poverty while I personally take on burdens the government has the money to handle but isn’t? Honestly, I hate when I hear that - “we do it for the kids, not the money,” because, while yes it’s true, it just perpetuates the problem. It makes teachers feel guilty for complaining or standing up for themselves, advocating for change. It’s gaslighting at its finest. It shouldn’t be like this. Children should be the number one priority for every government, but instead they constantly put children last and everything else - money and power - first. It hasn’t changed.


Isla put her son Michael in residential care because it was impossible to work and raise a child while her husband was away at war and then she lost him forever - all because she didn’t have access to childcare. It hasn’t changed. We are amidst a huge childcare crisis right now and it’s impacting the workforce and the economy and mental health and everything but the politicians, who are mostly middle aged men with very little knowledge of what it takes to raise a halfway decent child - they are too ignorant to realize that they’re throwing all the money at the wrong things. They’re mopping a sinking ship with it, pouring it into prisons and military, law enforcement, all these things designed to fix problems after they’ve happened without realizing that all it takes is investing in the future before it can go wrong. Invest in the children, prioritize the children, they are the future. If they are okay, everything is okay. 


So yeah, this story terrifies me because we are still not putting the children first, children who are dependent on us to advocate for them, completely at our mercy. And we can pretend all day that these actions, or lack of action, are for the good of the children, sunshine and blue skies, orange trees, a loving home, but denial and lies don’t change reality. American social reformer Frederick Douglass summed it up nicely in 1855 when he said  “it’s easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.” 168 years later and we’re still choosing to break our children, our future, rather than build them up. 


Thank you all so very much for listening to History Fix. I hope you found this story interesting and maybe you even learned something new. Be sure to follow my instagram @historyfixpodcast to see some images that go along with this episode and to stay on top of new episodes as they drop. I’d also really appreciate it if you’d rate and follow this podcast on whatever app you’re using to listen, that’ll make it much easier to get your next fix.  


Information used in this episode was sourced from The Guardian, BBC, the government of Canada library archives, the Australian National Maritime Museum,, the New York Times, the Australian parliamentary education office, the child migrant trust,, and a Stuff You Missed in History Class podcast episode called “Child Migrant Program.” As always, links to these sources can be found in the show notes. 

bottom of page