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IICSA Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse

Child Migration Programmes Investigation Report

Concluding observations

32. We make it clear that these are our own findings on these issues, based on all the evidence we have considered. We have not had regard to the opinion of Professors Constantine and Lynch on these matters: rather, we have considered the historical and research material they have placed before us, alongside the extensive archive material the Inquiry obtained from HMG and the sending institutions.

33. Finally, we note that it has often been said that child migration was accepted practice, judged by “the standards of the day”.[1] Yet as we detail further in Part B.4 below, the evidence showed us that child migration as a concept always had some critics, going back to the nineteenth century. More specifically for our purposes, various reports from the time of the migration programmes were highly critical of how they were operating in practice, and of the care being provided to the children and they set out what should be done. Several of the institutions involved had debates within themselves about child migration and about the operation of the programmes. Some have reflected internally since, and accepted that the Curtis principles were not in fact applied.[2] 

34. We turn now to the detail of the historical material from the child migration programmes that underpins the conclusions set out above.



  1. See, for example, Humphreys 9 March 2017 26.
  2. See, for example, Jim Richards (then Director of the Catholic Children’s Society (Westminster)), who wrote in 1993, in a document entitled Australian Migrants: A Consideration of the Conditions of the Time, that the Catholic agencies’ practices with respect to migration did “not seem to reflect what might be described as best practice of the time” (CCS000211_017-018); Jim Hyland (former Chairman of the Catholic Child Welfare Council), who wrote “It has been argued that some of the harsh practices were considered acceptable in former times when attitudes to child rearing were more rigid and demanding and there is an element of truth in this. There is, however, evidence that, in some establishments, there were undoubtedly totally unacceptable illegal, and indeed evil practices that had remain unexposed for many years” (CCS000216_003-004); and Mark Davies, who on behalf of HMG, said in evidence before us that “the government fully accepts that it failed to ensure, as the Curtis Committee had recommended, that the arrangements and standards of care for those children in Australia were comparable to those in this country” (DOH000097_021, para. 43).
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