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About the book
  • Published: 1 April 2008
  • ISBN: 9781741666144
  • Imprint: William Heinemann Australia
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 384
  • RRP: $32.99

The Forgotten Children

Fairbridge Farm School and its Betrayal of Britain's Child Migrants to Australia

One of 2007’s Australian non-fiction bestsellers

In 1959 David Hill’s mother – a poor single parent living in England – reluctantly decided to send her sons to Fairbridge Farm School in New South Wales where, she was led to believe, they would have a good education and a better life.
David was lucky – his mother was able to follow him out to Australia – but for most children, the reality was shockingly different. From 1938 to 1974 thousands of parents were persuaded to sign over legal guardianship of their children to Fairbridge to solve the problem of child poverty in Britain while populating the colony. Now many of those children have decided to speak out. Physical and sexual abuse was not uncommon. Loneliness was rife. Food was often inedible. The standard of education was appalling.
Here, for the first time, is the story of the lives of the Fairbridge children, from the bizarre luxury of the voyage out to Australia to the harsh reality of the first days there; from the crushing daily
routine to stolen moments of freedom and the struggle that defined life after leaving the school. This remarkable book is both a tribute to the children who were betrayed by an ideal that went terribly awry and a compelling account of an extraordinary episode in Australian–British History.

  • Pub date: 1 April 2008
  • ISBN: 9781741666144
  • Imprint: William Heinemann Australia
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 384
  • RRP: $32.99

About the Author

David Hill

During his remarkable career, David Hill has been chairman then managing director of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation; chairman of the Australian Football Association; chief executive of the State Rail Authority; chairman of Sydney Water Corporation; and chairman of CREATE (an organisation representing Australian children in institutional care).

He has also held a number of other executive appointments in the areas of sport, transport, broadcasting, fiscal management and city parks.

In 2006 he was awarded a Diploma of Arts with merit in classical archaeology from Sydney University. He is an honorary associate at the Sydney University departments of archaeology, classics and ancient history, and a visiting fellow at the University of New South Wales.

Since 2011 he has been the manager of an archaeological study of the ancient Greek city of Troizen. He has for many years been a leading figure in the international campaign to have the Parthenon sculptures returned from the British Museum to Greece.

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Praise for The Forgotten Children

“This book is a heartbreaker you can’t put down, a calmly narrated and impeccably researched tale of children from poor British families transported to Australia not in the eighteenth but in the twentieth century; of their bewildered and graphic adventures under the emotional and physical parsimony of the Fairbridge Farm School ... The reader yearns to reach out to the children who, say, are given guns to shoot rabbits and use them to suicide instead. For Hill to be able to detail the story in such clinical detail is itself a triumph of spirit and craft and humane forgiveness.’ TOM KENEALLY”

“‘This is the story of upper-crust do-gooders who did bad: dreaming of Empire, they sent the children of the poor to a world without love. David Hill amasses evidence of the brutality and slavery to which they turned eyes blinded by their own righteousness. A compelling and moving account of how institutional cruelty was covered up by secrecy and wishful thinking.’ GEOFFREY ROBERTSON QC”

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