Non Fiction

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Empty Cradles

Margaret Humphreys

1994

Empty Cradles (1994). In 1986 Margaret Humphreys, a Nottingham social worker, investigated a woman's claim that, aged four, she had been put on a boat to Australia by the British government. At first incredulous, Margaret discovered that this was just the tip of an enormous iceberg. Up to 150,000 children, some as young as three years old, had been deported from children's homes in Britain and shipped off to a 'new life' in distant parts of the Empire, right up until as recently as 1970.

Many were told that their parents were dead, and parents were told that their children had been adopted. In fact, for many children it was to be a life of horrendous physical and sexual abuse far away from everything they knew. Margaret and her team reunited thousands of families before it was too late, brought authorities to account, and worldwide attention to an outrageous miscarriage of justice. Margaret continues to reunite estranged families, who are situated in Australia and the UK; and brings worldwide attention to the cause. Deported children were promised oranges and sunshine but they got hard labour and life in institutions such as Keaney College in Bindoon, Western Australia. Many were given to the Congregation of Christian Brothers, where they suffered physical and sexual abuse.