Former child migrants sent from Britain to Australia by the Fairbridge Society may be one step closer to receiving compensation for sexual and physical abuse, after Prince Trust said it provided funds to enable victims to make claims.
Many of the approximately 2,500 child migrants sent to most parts of Australia by the Fairbridge Society between 1912 and 1970 were sexually harassed and regularly beaten.
They are likely to lose compensation and recognition through Australia’s national compensation scheme for people who are sexually abused as children in institutions, because the Fairbridge Society no longer exists.
But Prince Trust, a youth charity foundation founded by Prince Wales in 1976, has now taken steps so that victims of abuse can seek compensation related to the former Fairbridge Society.
Founded by Kingsley Fairbridge in 1909, the Fairbridge Society enjoys the protection of famous individuals including members of the royal family.
The community ceased to exist in the early 1980s when the children’s migration program ended, although the successor organization continued to work in the UK until it became part of the Prince Trust in 2011 and was dissolved two years later.
Fairbridge has now been restored as an organization in the United Kingdom, under the administrator.
“The Prince’s Trust provides funding to Fairbridge, to give victims and survivors the opportunity to submit claims, and that is also our hope that Fairbridge will sign an Australian compensation scheme,” said a spokesman for the trust.
“We are in proactive and ongoing talks with Australian authorities and with Fairbridge administrators, and we are committed to finding the best way to support victims and supporters.
“We strongly condemn all forms of child abuse.
“Although Prince Trust has never been involved in child migration schemes, we once again want to say we are very sorry for the injuries and suffering suffered by victims and survivors.”
In 2017, former ABC Australia managing director David Hill, who was sent to the Fairbridge agricultural school in Molong in NSW in 1959, said the British national inquiry The Prince’s belief “covers the back” by denying knowing of the serious abuse suffered by child migrants sent to Australia by the Fairbridge Society.
Richard Hinch was six when he was sent to Australia in 1951 under the British child migrant program.
He spent 10 years at the Fairbridge Agricultural School in Pinjarra, Western Australia, where he experienced sexual, physical and mental abuse.
Hinch, president of the Old Fairbridgians Association of WA, views the steps of the Prince Trust as a positive step, but not the end of the fight.
“There is light at the end of the tunnel, but I still see it as very dim light,” he said.
The lights will be a little brighter once Fairbridge joins the compensation scheme, he said.
“I want to see children actually receive money in their bank accounts before I say” yes, daytime now shows “.
“As far as I know, I still have to fight a lot.”
The administrator along with Chris Laverty said he could not confirm Fairbridge would join the national compensation scheme.
Laverty said he had contacted the Australian government to discuss the criteria needed to join the scheme and whether it was in accordance with the bankruptcy process in the UK.
Hinch and former Fairbridge child migrants have written letters to the Prince’s Trust and even Prince Charles himself to try to take compensation action.
A former child of the Kingsley Fairbridge Agricultural School, who did not want to be named, said Prince Trust had previously argued that his involvement was only due to the fact that he had inherited Fairbridge’s records and records.
“Now they really come and say that they will now do something,” he said.
“I feel it’s amazing.”
The Hinch and WA Tuart Place support services have sought to make Fairbridge declared a non-functioning organization for recovery purposes and for the Commonwealth Government and state governments to be made to act as funders of last resort.
Anna Swain from Knowmore’s legal services said the Prince Trust’s actions were welcome news but kept waiting.
Until institutions such as Fairbridge officially join the scheme, appeals for compensation are postponed.
Some survivors have postponed and even applied until the agency responsible for their abuse was added to the list of participating organizations.
“We often hear this, that ‘they are waiting for us to die’,” Swain said. “They might never join [the redress scheme] also, that’s clearly a big concern for many people.
“We have a number of survivors who have submitted applications some time ago and have been waiting for news that an institution will be responsible for the horrors they suffer.”
Institutions have until 30 June to join the national compensation scheme or at least provide a binding commitment.
The UK government also has a compensation scheme that offers a payment of £ 20,000 ($ 38,000 at the current exchange rate) for all former British child migrants on the basis that they are exposed to the risk of sexual abuse.
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