Author(s): Elizabeth FERNANDEZ, Jung-Sook LEE, Patricia MCNAMARA
This article reports the in-care and post-care experience of people who lived in Australian child-welfare systems as children from 1930 to 1989. The research utilised a mixed-methods design including surveys, interviews and focus groups, and the sample comprised over 700 care-leavers across Australia. This manuscript reports specifically on the experience of the British Child Migrant cohort within the study. Their experience was often characterised by oppressive child-rearing practices that paved the way for serious abuse of all types and gross neglect. The findings reveal that emotional, physical and sexual abuse perpetrated by predatory adults and by peers occurred frequently and concurrently. Educational neglect was pervasive, children being subject to hard physical labour from a young age. The consequences of maltreatment in care persist into adulthood. Despite resilience exhibited by many former child migrants, their mental health remained a serious concern. Implications of the findings for policy and practice are discussed.
Tags: Children, Australia, Refugees, Sexual violence, Mental Health, Child maltreatment, Resilience, History, Institutional abuse