Date: 18 November 2009
Dr Stephen Constantine has been much in demand to comment on the official apology made on Monday 17 November 2009 by the Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd to the thousands of UK-born 'children in care' sent to Australia, especially after 1945. The British Prime Minister Gordon Brown is to follow suit in the New Year.
The children, from poor, broken or absent families, were sent overseas with financial assistance from the UK and Australian governments by church charities and by organisations like Dr Barnardo's. The intention was to 'rescue' them from deprivation in the UK, to provide them with better opportunities overseas, and to populate Australia with 'white' stock. But many were badly treated in Australian institutions and farm schools and felt the pain of separation from the familiar and were left with confused identities.
Dr Constantine initially gave television interviews for the BBC News Channel, BBC 6 O'Clock News, and the BBC World TV programme 'Newshour'; plus radio interviews for BBC Radio 5 Live, BBC WorldService, BBC Wales, BBC Three Counties, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, and Robert Siegel's 'All Things Considered' programme on National Public Radio, Washington DC. Later in the week he was also contacted by the London correspondent of Nouvel Observateur; and the BBC's Religion and Ethics department arranged for him to be interviewed in turn on Sunday morning, 22 November, by ten local radio stations: West Midlands (Birmingham), Lancashire, Sussex, Oxford, Norfolk, Cambridge, Three Counties, Bristol, Gloucester and Jersey. For more on the subject see his on-line article 'Child Migration, Philanthropy, the State and the Empire', Institute of Historical Research, History in Focus, no.14, October 2008.
Associated departments and research centres: History