Archive for April 27th, 2011

Oranges and Sunshine

27 April 2011

Contributed by Joanne Mc Entee

 ‘Did you want to come to Australia?’ ‘I thought I was going on holiday. They told me I was going on holiday. Said I would be away for six weeks. I didn’t know where Australia was.’

(Child migrant, Perth, 1988)

The holiday proved short lived. Within two days of arriving in Australia the child was scrubbing floors in an orphanage.

Oranges and Sunshine (2010) directed by Jim Loach tells the story of the children who were sent abroad under state-sponsored migration schemes to various parts of the British empire from the mid- twentieth century until 1970. Through the courage and determination of one social worker from Nottingham the issue was brought to international attention. This film is her story too.

In 1986 social worker Margaret Humphreys who was known for her interest in adoption cases, received a letter from a woman named Madeleine who claimed she had been sent from a children’s home in England to Australia over forty years earlier. She was requesting assistance in finding her family. Humphreys was intrigued by the letter and although initially a little sceptic, subsequent investigations corroborated Madeleine’s claims. Thus began the long and emotionally draining process of uncovering a heart breaking state secret that had been concealed for decades. Read more