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Published: 12 March 2018
Author: Kate Malone

Child Migrants from the UK may receive compensation from British Government

The UK are following Australia’s lead with the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse (‘the Royal Commission’) and have established an Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (‘the Inquiry’) to investigate the long and terrible history of childhood institutional abuse in the UK. 

The Inquiry has recently investigated the link between institutional abuse in the UK and Australia which came in the form of child migrants who were forcibly removed from the UK and sent to various institutions across Australia. The Inquiry has found that 7,000 children from the UK were sent to Australia, more than half in the years following WWII, but sadly only 2,000 are still alive today. The Inquiry criticised the policy of child migration, saying that successive British governments failed to ensure there were sufficient measures in place to protect children from the possibility of abuse once they arrived in Australia.

The Inquiry recommended that the British government compensate the remaining child migrant survivors for abuse suffered at institutions in Australia within the next 12 months.

Ryan Carlisle Thomas have acted for child migrants from the UK who subsequently suffered abuse in institutions throughout Australia. In our experience, difficulties can arise in child migrant claims as it can be difficult to determine who the appropriate entity is to sue. For example, it can be difficult to ascertain whether a State or Commonwealth government were involved in the care of child migrants once they arrived in Australia, or whether responsibility for the child migrant was solely with the organisation who had care and control of the institution where the child migrant was ultimately placed. If former child migrants are able to claim compensation from the British government for the subsequent abuse they suffered in Australia, this may alleviate some of the difficulties previously experienced and provide a much needed alternative source of compensation for some child migrant survivors.

The spotlight now falls on the UK government to follow through with the recommendations made by the Inquiry. As we have seen from our own experience with the Royal Commission, Australian State and Commonwealth governments failed to adopt many of the recommendations made by the Royal Commission to date. Nevertheless, former child migrant survivors have expressed hope that the British government will act quickly and in accordance with the recommendations.

If you or someone you know is a former child migrant we encourage you to contact a member of our institutional abuse team on (03) 9238 7878 to discuss any entitlements to compensation that you may have.

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