We are not alone in our inhumanity to children

At least we were not alone in treating orphans and children belonging to unmarried mothers abominably in the past.

At least ten thousand children, many as young as four, were dispatched from British Orphanages between 1947 and 1967 to Australia by child welfare groups, like the Salvation Army, Barnardos and the Christian Brothers. With the best of intentions it was felt that the children would have the chance of a better life in a country that was warm and sunny and needed labour — but the actions often lacked tact.

Siblings were frequently parted, never to meet again and many of the children had no notion of what was happening to them. In his book, Orphans of the Empire, Alan Gill notes how one little boy, seeing a sign announcing the mustering point for the Barnado’s party was thrilled, because he presumed party meant cake, another enquired as to whether they would be home in time for tea.

The Australian government at the time removed children from their aborigine parents against their will. White settlers also committed genocide against indigenous people who had lived there for 60 years. The same crimes were committed against the indigenous people of the USA. So it seems man’s inhumanity to man has no boundaries.

Gordon Cunningham


Dublin 13

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