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Abuse lawyer notes announcement from Christian Brothers on unjust compensation payments

Lawyer who works with the Child Migrant Trust shocked by extent of abuse in Australia

Former child migrants, photo courtesty Child Migrant Trust

8 May 2014

Abuse lawyer Frances Swaine who has worked with the Child Migrant Trust for many years has given the announcement by the Christian Brothers (CB) in Australia that they will review unjust compensation payments made to survivors of childhood abuse a muted welcome. 

The Royal Commission into child sex abuse is currently sitting in Perth, Australia and is looking into possible abuse carried out in children’s’ homes run by the Christian Brothers. 

Many British child migrants who were sent to Australia and other Commonwealth countries over many decades lived in homes run by the Brothers, and many of them suffered appalling abuse. 

The extent of the abuse was revealed to the Royal Commission last week when 11 men gave evidence about the brutal and continuous abuse that they suffered at four orphanages run by the Brotherhood. 

Following the giving of evidence last week the Christian Brothers have said that they will re-examine any unjust payments made to survivors of abuse by them. 

Former migrants have condemned the news from the CB as unacceptable.  They are calling for:  

  • No more arbitrary payments for the most horrendous crimes against children – crimes against humanity.
  • An independent government body should take the lead in any retrospective injury payments.
  • The Order of the Christian Brothers should be disbanded and their assets seized and distributed.
  • No more ‘Professional Standards’ or ‘Towards Healing’ 

Norman Johnston from the International Association of former Child Migrants and their Families said: 

"We were deported to a prolific, predatory group of paedophiles with a long history of abusing young, vulnerable boys. We have moved beyond cover-ups and abusers setting the tariff behind closed doors.” 

The Child Migrant Trust (CMT) works to bring about family reunions between former child migrants who were sent abroad, and any living relatives that they may have in the UK.  The CMT also provides counselling and other support services. 

Frances, who has worked with the CMT since 1992 and who is expecting to give evidence to the Royal Commission at the invitation of the CMT said: 

“I have worked with the CMT for many years trying to obtain support and some measure of justice for former child migrants.  

“I am pleased that the real nature of the horrific abuse that went on in the orphanages to which they were sent is finally being heard in public. 

“The small sums of compensation which were awarded to abuse survivors in Australia failed entirely to address the seriousness of the crimes committed against these young children. 

“The unveiling of the abuse and recognition by the Christian Brothers of their inadequate initial response to the abuse is to be given a cautious welcome”.  

A number of countries have opened formal investigations into historic abuse allegations, including the Inquiry into Historic Abuse in Northern Ireland between 1922 and 1995 which was set up in November 2013   following the Ryan Commission which investigated abuse in Eire and which reported in 2009.  

The Northern Ireland Inquiry will listen to the evidence of children who were allege that they were abused in residential institutions in the Province during those years, and will take evidence from the institutions, government and other public health bodies including health and social care trusts.

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