THE FORGOTTEN AUSTRALIANS – FAIRBRIDGE FARM SCHOOL, MOLONG

The Premier of NSW, Nathan Rees made an apology to the ‘Forgotten Australians’ on 19 September 2009. On 16 November 2009, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd made a formal apology in the Federal Parliament to the ‘Forgotten Australians’. 500,000 people, including over 7000 former British child migrants were part of the apology, which acknowledged the many instances of neglect and abuse that was the result of their time in government institutions, church organisations, orphanages, homes or foster care. The plight of the ‘Forgotten Australians’ has been identified in three Senate committee inquiries, with each making unanimous calls for an apology.

FAIRBRIDGE FARM SCHOOL, MOLONG

The NSW Migration Heritage Centre supported the Fairbridge Heritage Association Inc.’s heritage project to record the experiences of former British child migrants at the Fairbridge Farm School, Molong, which documents a chapter of Australian migration and settlement history.

The Fairbridge organisation operated child migration schemes for underprivileged British children in Canada, Rhodesia (Zimbabwe) and Australia from 1912 until 1980. Parents were persuaded to sign over legal guardianship of their children, on the promise of a better life in these Commonwealth countries.

The isolated, rural Fairbridge Farm School near Molong in New South Wales operated from 1938 until 1974 during which time about 1000 boys and girls passed through the school and were trained to be “farmers and farmers’ wives”.

Many of those children, now aged in their 60s and 70s, are now talking for the first time about their experiences. Loneliness was rife. Food was often inedible. The standard of education was limited. Disturbingly, more than half of the 39 oral histories recorded by the Fairbridge Heritage Association Inc. document physical and sexual abuse. All the oral histories have been lodged with State Library of NSW and are accessible for research purposes.

The oral histories were subsequently incorporated in David Hill’s book The Forgotten Children and some of the accounts also appear in a documentary entitled The Long Journey Home screened on ABC Television on 17 November 2009.

The transcripts will be accessible at the State Library of NSW »

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Read Fairbridge memories and view personal mementos and photographs in our Belongings exhibition »

INTERVIEW TRANSCRIPTS

Read a selection of 10 oral histories recorded by the Fairbridge Heritage Association Inc.

VINCENT MCMULLAN

Vincent McMullen came as a 7½ year old from Dumbarton in Scotland to Fairbridge in February 1961. He came to Australia as part of a later Fairbridge ‘Family’ scheme, with his mother and father, four brothers and two sisters and spent a total of 4 ½ years at Fairbridge. This interview was recorded in Vincent’s home in Sydney on February 6, 2006.

Vincent McMullen's transcript

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STEWART LEE

Stewart Lee came as a 4 year old from Manchester to Fairbridge with his three brothers, 11 year old Syd, 9 year old Graham and 8 year old Ian Bayliff, arriving in Sydney in March 1955. Stewart was to stay at Fairbridge for 13 years. This interview was recorded in Gloucester House at Fairbridge Farm Molong on
February 9, 2006.

Stewart Lee transcript

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EDDIE BAKER

Eddie Baker came as a 10 year old from Winchester to Fairbridge arriving in Sydney in May 1948. He stayed 6 years at Fairbridge. This interview was recorded in Eddie’s house in regional New South Wales February 8, 2006.

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MALCOLM FIELD

Malcolm Field came as a 10 year old from England to Fairbridge with his 14 year old brother Laurie, arriving in Sydney in December 1952. His younger brother Keith, aged 6 and sister Jane, aged 5, were already at Fairbridge having been sent out in 1951. Malcolm was to stay at Fairbridge for 7 years. This interview was recorded in Malcolm’s home in regional New South Wales on February 17, 2006.

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MARGARET CLARKE (WATT)

Margaret Watt left England for Fairbridge as a 10 year old with her 12 year old twin sisters Joy and June and 13 year old sister Rosemary in 1940. With the outbreak of the Second World War the party of 30 children sailed via Canada and was to be the last group of child migrants to Fairbridge for another seven years. Margaret left Fairbridge after 6 years in 1946 to be with her mother who had followed the children out to Australia. This interview was recorded in Margaret’s home in Sydney on January 31, 2006.

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MARGARET MCLAUCHLAN

Scottish Margaret McLauchlan left Northumberland and came to Australia as 5 year old with her 6 year old brother Frank in 1938. Originally they were sent to the Northcotte children’s home in Victoria but were moved during the Second World War with 38 other children to the Fairbridge Farm School at Molong in 1944. Margaret left Fairbridge as a 17 year old in 1949. This interview was recorded in Margaret’s Sydney home on February 8, 2006.

 Download transcript (pdf).

GWEN COLE

Gwen Miller came as a 10 year old from Grimsby to Fairbridge with her 7 year old sister Kath and her 4 year old brother Reg and 9 year old Doug, arriving in Sydney in June 1952. An older brother, 14 year old Hughie, joined them at Fairbridge in July the following year. Gwen stayed at Fairbridge for 7 years. This interview was recorded in Gloucester House at Fairbridge Farm School Molong on February 9, 2006.

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PETER BENNETT

Peter Bennett came from Suffolk to Fairbridge as a 6 year old in 1940 with his 9 year old sister Marie. With the outbreak of the Second World War Peter and Marie sailed with 28 other children via Canada in what was to be the last group of child migrants to Fairbridge for another seven years. Peter was to stay at Fairbridge for 10 years. This interview was recorded in Peter’s home in Sydney on February 15, 2006.

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JOYCE WHITBY DRURY

Joyce Drury came to Fairbridge as a 10 year old from Birkdale, Lancashire arriving in Sydney in June 1938. She was to stay at Fairbridge for 7 years. This interview was recorded with Tony Myers at Joyce’s home in regional New South Wales on February 21, 2006.

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DENNIS PIERCY

Dennis Piercy came to Fairbridge as an 8 year old with his 5 year old brother Barnie, arriving in Sydney in May 1955. Dennis stayed at Fairbridge for 9 years. This interview was recorded at Gloucester House, Fairbridge Farm School, on March 3, 2006.

 Download transcript (pdf)

RETRIEVED http://www.migrationheritage.nsw.gov.au/exhibition/fairbridge/fairbridge-transcripts/index.html

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