This is the movie that I saw at the weekend. It was such that I haven’t stopped thinking about it since. Click here to see the trailer.
I had heard of the government programme called Home Children and in fact, met a man in Toronto who, when gathering information for his own book on evacuation during the Second World War, had come across several of these deportees.
Ben Wicks, the man I met on a sunny afternoon sail in Toronto wrote the book “No Time To Say Goodbye” and that is a sorry account of a plan made with the best intentions that went horribly wrong.
The movie shows another plan that went horribly wrong. It concentrates on those deported to Australia and follows the trials and tribulations of Margaret Humphreys a social worker from Nottingham in England as she brought to the public attention the British government programme of Home Children. This involved forcibly relocating poor British children to Australia, Canada, New Zealand and South Africa and often without their parents’ knowledge. Children were often told their parents had died, and parents were told their children had been placed for adoption elsewhere in the UK. Margaret Humphreys believes that up to 150,000 children were resettled under the scheme,some as young as three, about 7,000 of whom were sent to Australia.
The movie shows how Humphreys was approached by a woman from Australia who had been sent away at age 4 and who wanted to find her mother. This set Margaret Humphreys on the quest that was to take over her life.
In one scene, while Humphreys is celebrating Christmas in Australia with her family and friends she had made during her investigations, presents are distributed. One person asks Margaret’s young son “What are you giving us for Christmas?” to which he replied “I’ve given you my mother.”
This is a movie showing the hard lives many of these children lived under the harsh conditions imposed by the Brothers at the Fairbridge Farm School. Many of these children now into middle age, have joined together in a class action. We are told that “65 former students of the Fairbridge Farm School began unprecedented court action, suing the organisation and the Federal and State Governments claiming they turned a blind eye to years of abuse.”
Author David Hill “The Forgotten Children” who was an inhabitant of Fairbridge although for a short time as his mother reclaimed him said “It wasn’t until 2006, after teaming up with an old classmate to produce a book and documentary on Fairbridge, I learned of the horrific abuses many of the children had endured and the magnitude of their betrayal by the authorities.”
This isn’t an easy movie to watch but I urge you to see it if/when it comes to a theatre near you.
- Oranges and Sunshine, DVD review (telegraph.co.uk)
- The land of lost children (theage.com.au)