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Tuesday, 28 June 1921

Senator FOSTER - Is ,the idea to send the children from England to be trained in the home in New South Wales ?

Senator THOMAS (NEW SOUTH WALES) - Yes. The home has been established in- a suburb of Sydney, and arrangements have already been made for a number of children to come out. I believe that some are already on their way. The first batch will- consist of war orphans between the ages of eight and twelve. They will be carried free through the agency of the British Overseas Settlement Scheme, but, of course, in time .the home will not be able to take advantage of that.

Senator E D MILLEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - The offer of the British Government to find, free passages ceases at the end of this year

Senator THOMAS (NEW SOUTH WALES) - Before the war 1,000 children a year were going from Dr. Barnardo's Home to Canada, and the people of that country have been very pleased with them. and have received them with open arms.

Senator Payne - Are they sent to Canada as children, or' after they have been trained in England?

Senator THOMAS (NEW SOUTH WALES) - I believe they are sent there after they have 'been -trained. Nearly 11,000 Barnardo boys served in the great war, 670 laid down their lives for the allied cause; 22 army commissions were granted to old Barnardo boys, 11 became lieutenants, 3 ft captains, and 2 majors. Thirty-one decorations came their 'way, and of ;four Anzacs, mentioned by General Sir Ian Hamilton for bravery &t the ^Gallipoli landing, three were originally Barnardo boys. Two pf these were later awarded the Military Medal for bravery in France. We have had some Barnardo boys in this country, and one -of them was known to us all. The Senate ,to-day passed a resolution regretting the death of the "Honorable James Page. Every one of us feels that Australia waa the richer because James Page came to this country. He was a Dr. Barnardo boy, and was proud of the fact, Perhaps very few members of the Senate have had more private conversations with him than myself, and I can assure honorable senators that again and again he spoke with the highest respect of D:r. Barnardo, and of the home and his treatment there. When the late Mr. James Page was elected to Parliament a statement appeared in the press that a gentleman in Western Australia who had done very well and who at one time was also under the care of Dr. Barnardo's Homes, had written saying that he believed he was in the institution at the same time. The Western Australian gentleman thought that probably Mr. Page did not possess much money, and he said that if £2,000 or £3,000 would be of any service he could have it. We all know that our late friend did not need financial assistance, but it is gratifying to realize that such a spirit of friendship existed between boys who had been inmates of the same institution. If the Government were prepared to find funds to help the Committee here, the authorities in England would be willing to send boys here at an early age. A committee in New South Wales is now working in the direction of giving assistance to such youths, which I believe will be a help to emigration, and I would like to know whether it is not possible to have a portion of the immigration vote devoted to this particular work, because I believe it would be beneficial. Immigration is likely to be a very serious problem to Australia, because every day we are being told of the necessity of placing people on the land. But the people who are born here are leaving the land and coming into the over-crowded cities, and I know of no greater problem than that of relievingthe congestion in the large centres of population when those who are reared in the country are leavingit. When we are building up our city industries, where men are paid high wages for forty-four hours' work per week, with no work on Saturdays, and the men in the country are working six or even seven days a week for lower wages, there is a likelihood of rural workers leaving the country. Rural workers in England are never at a great distance from a city or village, and, naturally, have the privilege of spending their Saturday afternoons or evenings at places of amusement, but if they should come to Australia and were placed in country districts they would be many miles from the attractions which are provided in cities or large country towns. If our own boys are abandoning rural life it may be difficult to encourage people from overseas to settle on the land. Canada has benefited by the work done by boys and girls from Dr. Barnardo's Homes, and there is no reason why Australia should not also derive advantage. The idea of the Sydney committee, to which I have referred, is to encourage the emigration of Dr. Barnardo's boys, and probably consideration will later be given to the question of finding employment for girls from the same institution. I again ask the Government to seriously consider whether it is not possible for the New South Wales committee to receive a subsidy from the Government under the immigration or some other vote.

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