Adoption and Forgotten Australians

Family history for adopted people, Forgotten Australians and child migrants

Child migrants

Over 7000 children migrated to Australia under assisted child migration schemes. The vast majority of children migrated from the UK, with a small number from Malta. Child migrants were adopted or brought up in children's homes, institutions, orphanages or foster care. Many of these children experienced neglect and abuse while in institutional care.

On November 16th 2009, the Australian Government formally apologised to Forgotten Australians and child migrants on behalf of the nation.

On 24 February 2010, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown apologised for Britain’s role in sending thousands of children overseas.

Accessing records

Child migrant records can be found in the National Archives of Australia, state archives and in organisations and churches that were responsible for providing care. Where relevant, please also consult the Adoption and Forgotten Australian sections of this guide.

Child Migrants Trust
The Trust works on behalf of former child migrants who seek information about their family, childhood and migration history or who want to be reunited with their mothers, fathers, brothers or sisters. The Child Migrants Trust has offices in Melbourne and Perth. The Melbourne office will take enquiries from all over Australia.

The Trust can be contacted at:

Melbourne Office (
takes enquiries from all over Australia)
169 Riversdale Road
Hawthorn Victoria 3122

Telephone:: (03) 9347 7403
Fax: (03) 9347 1791

Perth Office
8 Sunbury Road
Victoria Park WA 6100
Telephone: 08 9472 7582
Fax: 08 9472 7549

National Archives of Australia - Child Migration Fact Sheet
Fact sheet on the National Archives of Australia Records relating to Child Migration. Contact details for the NAA are available on their website.

Accessing records held by Commonwealth and State Archives (CAARA)
Fact sheet created by the Council of Australasian Archives and Records Authorities Child Migrants

Organisations helping former child migrants to find family members
Appendix 5 of Good British Stock Child and Youth Migration to Australia by Barry Coldrey

Former Child Migrants Referral Index (Western Australia)
An 'application for personal records' form needs to be completed and access is restricted to clients and direct line family descendants. Information varies but may contain child’s name, alias, date of birth, name of ship, date of arrival in WA, places of residence in WA and location of various records.

PHIND - the Personal History Index
Details the location of records held for former child migrants placed in Australian Catholic Homes between 1938 and 1965. A list of organisations where this index can be accessed is listed at the bottom of their website.

Non-Government agencies

Child Migrants Trust (UK) assists former child migrants in accessing their records. They also provides family tracing services.

Barnardos Australia holds files on children of Barnardos, who migrated to Australia under the Child Migration Scheme and files of more recent ex-clients. Barnardos UK holds files on young people who were in care in the UK. Copies of these files can be sent to Australia on request.

Fairbridge Society provided residential care for British child migrants. A history of the Fairbridge Farm School is available on the Fairbridge Kids website.

Irish Famine Orphans website is dedicated to Australian Monument to the Great Irish Famine (1845-1848) and to the 4,200 female famine orphans who arrived in Australia under the Earl Grey scheme (1848 -1850). It includes a list of female orphans arriving by Ship into Australia. Go to Orphans - Ships - New South Wales/Victoria/South Australia.

Big Brother Movement sponsored young men between 16-20 from the UK to work on farms in Australia.

South Australia's British Farm Apprentices 1913-1914 website includes an index to the apprentices Immigration Department file (full records held at the State Records of South Australia).

C'BERS Consultancy (WA) provides assistance to former residents and students of Christian Brothers, Sisters of Mercy and Sisters of Nazareth childcare institutions.

Catholic Children’s Society (Westminster) provides information and access to records who were placed for adoption by the Catholic Children's Society (formerly Crusades of Rescue). The Catholic Children’s Society also has a central record for many Catholic child migrants.

Senate inquiries and reports

Senate inquiries into the Stolen Generation, child migrants and Forgotten Australians

Useful links and publications