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UK to apologise to ‘Forgotten Australians’

The British government will next week apologise to the thousands of child migrants shipped to Australia after the Second World War.

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UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown is to say sorry to the so-called ‘Forgotten Australians’ sent away on the false belief they were orphans.

The move follows the Australian government’s long-awaited apology to the group last November.

Some 10,000 child migrants were brought to Australia from the 1940s to the 1970s.

Many suffered physical, mental and sexual abuse inside the nation’s orphanages and institutions.

The British High Commission will host receptions in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Perth for former child migrants next Thursday.

‘Historic occasion’

High Commissioner Baroness Valerie Amos said the UK apology was an “important and historic occasion” which was particularly relevant in Australia.

“Over the past few months I have met many [of those] whose lives were blighted, and heard their personal stories.

“The events planned here in Australia and the UK will be an important milestone in recognising the difficulties faced by those affected.”

Last November, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd apologised to the child migrants, admitting “a great evil had been done” to them.

“We are sorry,” he said. “Sorry that as children you were taken from your families and placed in institutions where so often you were abused.

“Sorry for the physical suffering, emotional starvation and the cold absence of love, of tenderness, of care.

“Sorry for the tragedy, the absolute tragedy, of childhoods lost.”