DAVID HILL, a former ABC (Australia) managing director explores a part of Australia's shameful history, in his new book.
"THE FORGOTTEN CHILDREN" OF FAIRBRIDGE FARM, and its betrayal of Australia's Child Migrants.
This is a personal story for David Hill, who in 1959 was sent with his brothers to Australia for a better education and life, by a reluctant but destitute mother who thought she was doing the best thing for her boys.
David and his brothers were lucky; his mother was able to be reunited with her sons three years later when they settled in Sydney, but in between those years the Hill boys endured a criminally harsh life at Fairbridge Farm.
From 1938 to 1974 thousands of children were sent from Britain to Molong, in western NSW, to a farm set up by a British society with the aim of alleviating child poverty in Britain, while populating the far reaches of the British Empire.
David Hill collates the lives of the Fairbridge children - the sadistic abuse they suffered, the child labour they endured, all underscored by a brutal loneliness and a lack of affection that would have a huge impact on their adult lives.
It's the first - person recollections that are most compelling, and David gives judicious rein to these snippets.
At Fairbridge, where children as young as four were taken from their parents and made to work, only sissies cried and the unspoken rule was never to cry out during canings. The only crying was done at night, in bed into the pillow.
The litany of abuse against children in David Hill's book is heartbreaking. A little boy, up since 3am working in the dairy, is allowed by a kind teacher to lay his head on his desk and sleep; a sexually abused six year old girl is routinely flogged for wetting the bed; an old man who still has scars on his legs from beatings with ironing cords; a child forced to eat porridge crawling with weevils, vomiting it up and then forced to eat it, then there was the crawling maggot infested mutton stew.
As David Hills mother observed on collecting her boys, It was like something out of "Oliver Twist". Except this was the 20th century.
Wednesday, 9 May 2007
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