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Published: 20 February 2019
Author: Ian Dallas
The British government has finally followed through on the recommendations of the Inquiry in the United Kingdom (UK), made in 2018, that child migrants sent to institutions in Australia and other parts of the world, should receive compensation.
The compensation fund comes after the UK Government has finally recognised the fundamentally flawed child migrant programs in place from the 1920s to 1970s. However, the scheme provides token compensation, of £20,000 (A$36,000) in each case, regardless of the experience of the child migrant.
The scheme is open to any former British child migrant who was alive on 1 March 2018, or to the beneficiaries of any former child migrant alive on 1 March 2018 who has since died. The payment will be made regardless of what occurred to the child migrant and regardless of whether any abuse took place.
In order to qualify, the claimant must have been a child migrant sent by an organisation from the UK , and sent without an accompanying adult family member and not sent to live with a member of their birth family.
Applications can be made to the Child Migrants Trust, www.childmigrantstrust.com from 1 March 2019. The scheme will remain open for two (2) years. It is of significance that the compensation is payable regardless of whether any other claim for compensation has been paid – in other words, the full amount is payable, and there will be no deductions.
The experience of many child migrants to Australia has been an experience of neglect and abuse. Often they will have made claims for compensation in respect to that abuse or may remain eligible to claim such compensation. It is also possible that former child migrants may qualify under the National Redress Scheme in Australia which provides significantly greater amounts than the UK scheme.
The important point to understand is that where former child migrants qualify to claim from the UK scheme, they do not need to establish that any abuse occurred and will be paid approximately $36,000 once it is accepted that they were indeed child migrants fitting within the scheme. If they then in addition have a claim in respect of the institution which “cared” for them in Australia, they would be able to make this claim as well.
Former child migrants who consider that they have claims against institutions for neglect or mistreatment in Australia are encouraged to contact our Institutional Abuse team on (03) 9238 7878 for further advice.
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