Child migration

Between 1947 and 1953 more than 3200 children migrated to Australia under approved schemes. About 100 of these children were from Malta and the others were from the United Kingdom. Other European countries were asked to participate in the child migration scheme but they declined.

More than 30 homes were approved by the government to accommodate the child migrants; most were run by voluntary and religious organisations. It was not government policy to provide homes specifically for migrant children. However, the government did contribute towards the capital expenditure incurred by these organisations in setting up institutions. The Commonwealth and state governments contributed towards running costs. The governments of the United Kingdom and Malta also paid maintenance for their children sent to approved institutions in Australia.

Personal documents of child migrants

The role of the Commonwealth government was mainly to oversee the programs being administered by the states. Most of the records held by the National Archives are general policy files. There are however, some series of child migrant case files held in a few National Archives capital city offices.

Fact sheets

Child migration to Australia

Child migrant records held in Sydney

Immigration records

Migrant selection documents in Perth

Records of British migrants held in Canberra

Research guides

Good British Stock: Child and youth migration to Australia by Barry Coldrey, 1999, 220pp., details valuable information about holdings on child migration.

Information held by other institutions

Child migration schemes were administered by state governments, therefore there may be relevant records (particularly case files created by the state welfare departments) in the various state government archives. Information about these holdings is included in Child Migrants: Accessing records held by Commonwealth and State Archives on the website of the Council of Australasian Archives and Records Authorities.

Many of the organisations which arranged for children to migrate to Australia (for example the Christian Brothers, Dr Barnardo's Homes) as well as the institutions which accepted them, (for example St Joseph's, Castledare) also hold relevant records. Several of the homes have registers of all the children who stayed in them. Contact the relevant children’s home or organisation (which may have offices both in the United Kingdom and in Australia) to inquire whether they hold records on a specific individual.

The Child Migrants Trust can also assist you to trace the background and families of children who came to Australia as unaccompanied child migrants.

In 1999 the Western Australian government launched the Former Child Migrants Referral Index which includes identification and arrival details for the 2950 child migrants who arrived in Western Australia between 1913 and 1968. The database also indicates where records relating to each child migrant are held. Please direct inquiries to Release of Information, Department for Child Protection, PO Box 6334, East Perth WA 6892; Free call: 1800 000 277.

Find & Connect is for Forgotten Australians, former child migrants and everyone with an interest in the history of out-of-home 'care' in Australia. You can use the site to read information about, and view images of, children's homes, get help to find records about children in 'care', or connect with support groups and services in each state/territory. Free call :1800 161 109.

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