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An Institutional Legacy. Experiences of women whose mothers were institutionalised under the British Child Migrant Scheme in Australia.

Parker, Diane (2018) An Institutional Legacy. Experiences of women whose mothers were institutionalised under the British Child Migrant Scheme in Australia. PhD thesis, Murdoch University.

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This study investigates the experiences of eight participants whose mothers had been institutionalised as children in Australia. In particular, I have focussed on the daughters of Child Migrants, migrant children who had been brought to Australia and placed into institutional care under the British Child Migration Scheme, in the years immediately preceding and proceeding the Second World War.

In 2001, the Australian government handed down the findings of the inquiry into the Child Migrants who had been sent out to Australia under the British/Australian child migration arrangements. The report, The Lost Innocents: Righting the Record, Report on Child Migration, (Australian Government, 2001) acknowledged that many of the Child Migrants who had been placed into the care of the Australian government had been subjected to a harsh and at times, brutal existence in Australian institutions. The investigation recognised that for some, it had been a positive experience. In 2004, another government report: The Forgotten Australians, (Australian Government, 2004) investigated the experiences of children who, for a variety of reasons, had been placed in out-of-home care in Australia during the 20th Century. This inquiry also found that institutional life for many of these children had been difficult and that their experiences had had negative impacts on their lives. In 2005, Murray and Rock in their report; Legacy of Growing Up In Care in 20th Century Australia, concluded that many of the hundreds of thousands of children who had been placed into the care of government authorities throughout 20th Century Australia, had been damaged both physically and emotionally by their incarceration.

It is clear from the aforementioned investigations, that the lives of those in institutional care in Australia have been profoundly influenced by their institutional experiences. What is not so clear, is the impact of their experiences on the next generation. Whilst many of the submissions provided to the government inquiries included stories about the overwhelming regret of not being able to parent well and the fear that they had damaged their own children, investigations about children of Care-Leavers, particularly children of British Child Migrants, are minimal. This qualitative study makes an original contribution to the literature on the generational impact of institutionalisation and furthers the narrative of the British Child Migrant. Findings from the study are reported through portraits of the eight participant’s education, working lives, religious and sporting involvement as well as their family relationships and networks.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Education
Supervisor(s): Lee-Hammond, Libby and Hesterman, Sandra
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