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Labor welcomes assistance for British and Maltese child migrants.



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M M M M M M M ME E E E E E E ED D D D D D D D IIIIIIIIA A A A A A A A R R R R R R R R E E E E E E E EL L L L L L L L E E E E E E E E A A A A A A A AS S S S S S S S E E E E E E E E

13 May 2002

LABOR WELCOMES ASSISTANCE FOR BRITISH AND MALTESE CHILD MIGRANTS

The Opposition welcomes the announcement today of further assistance to former child migrants from the UK and Malta.

Commonwealth funding will assist former child migrants to travel to the UK or Malta to reunite with family members, and will contribute to family tracing and counselling services provided by the Child Migrants Trust. These measures are a substantial response to the landmark Senate Committee report of last August entitled Lost Innocents: Righting the Record.

That report detailed for the first time the full scope of a very sorry chapter in our history in which governments at all levels, churches and non-government agencies failed in their duty of care to at least 7,000 vulnerable children who migrated to Australia.

I note that the Senate Committee Inquiry was established by Labor and the Democrats in June 2000 against the Government’s wishes. Today’s announcement by Minister Hardgrave of funding of $3.7 million over three years is an admission that the Senate Inquiry performed an extremely valuable function in allowing former child migrants to tell the Parliament directly of their experiences. As the Inquiry Chair Labor Senator Rosemary Crowley noted at the time, many told stories of great hurt, pain and anger.

The Opposition believes that it is not enough for Minister Hardgrave to say outside the Parliament that the Government ‘regrets’ the suffering of ‘some’ former child migrants. Clearly a formal apology is needed from the Parliament itself to bring the matter to a satisfactory conclusion.

For further information:

Laurie Ferguson MP 02 6277 4920

Warren Gardiner 0409 910 004