Fairbridge Victims still in fight to join National Redress Scheme


Mr Hinch was six when he was "deported" to Australia in 1951 under the British child migrant program.

He spent 10 years at the Fairbridge Farm School in Pinjarra, Western Australia, where he says he experienced sexual, physical and mental abuse.

He was not alone. Several of an estimated 2500 child migrants sent to most Australian states by the Fairbridge Society between 1912 and 1970 were sexually abused, as well as regularly beaten.

They appeared set to miss out on compensation and acknowledgement through Australia's national redress scheme for people sexually abused as children in institutions because the Fairbridge Society no longer existed.

The Prince's Trust, the youth charity founded by the Prince of Wales in 1976, has now taken steps so abuse survivors can seek redress related to the former Fairbridge Society.

"We categorically condemn all forms of child abuse," a trust spokesperson said.

Established by Kingsley Fairbridge in 1909, the Fairbridge Society enjoyed the patronage of high-profile individuals including members of the royal family. It ceased to exist in the early 1980s when its child migration programs ended, although a replacement organisation continued working in the UK until it became part of The Prince's Trust in 2011 and was dissolved two years later.

Fairbridge has now been reinstated as an organisation in the UK, under administrators.

"The Prince's Trust is providing Fairbridge with funds, to give victims and survivors the opportunity to make claims, and it is also our hope that Fairbridge will sign up to the Australian redress scheme," the spokesperson said.

Mr Hinch, president of the Old Fairbridgians Association of WA, views it as a positive step, but not the end of the fight.

"I want to see the kids actually receiving the money in their bank accounts before I say 'yep, the daylight is now showing'."

Joint administrator Chris Laverty said at this point she could not confirm Fairbridge would join the national redress scheme.

Ms Laverty said she had reached out to the Australian government to discuss the criteria needed to join the scheme and whether that was suitable to a UK insolvency process.

Mr Hinch and WA support service Tuart Place had been trying to get Fairbridge declared a defunct organisation for redress purposes, and for the Commonwealth and states governments to be made to step in as the funder of last resort.

Until institutions like Fairbridge formally join the scheme, redress applications sit on hold.

Some survivors have held off even applying until the institution responsible for their abuse is added to the list of participating organisations.

Institutions have until June 30 to join the national redress scheme or at least provide a binding commitment.


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