UK inquiry hears child abuse case in Australia

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Childrens carry banners
Children carry banners at an anti-paedophile protest outside South Jakarta court during the verdict of Australian Peter William Smith February 26, 2007. Reuters/Supri

First-hand accounts of people sent to Australia during the post-war decades will be heard as a step towards an independent inquiry into child sexual abuse. The “largest and most ambitious inquiry in the UK” will reportedly tackle what have really taken place inside the government, schools, hospitals, military and other institutions.

Imran Kahn, who spoke on behalf of former child migrant Oliver Cosgrove, said several children were physical and sexual abused. The scheme to “populate the empire with good, white British stock,” he said, has led to child abuse. Cosgrove has reportedly set foot to Australia in 1941.

“This was a systematic and institutional problem,” Kahn said. Men and women from the UK who were sent to the Land Down Under want to ensure that justice is served.

Based on testimonies at the Australian Royal Commission, schools in Western Australia which were run by the Christian Brothers forced boys to work ad bear beatings. Allegedly, children were also abused sexually and suffered hunger. Christian Brothers in different schools, which include Castledare, Contarf, Tardun and Bindoon in Perth, were named by children as abusers according to news.com.au.

Clifford Walsh, now 72, said he was one of the victims of sexual abuse. He told the BBC that the UK government had sent young kids to a “living hell.” Walsh described abusers as paedophiles. “They sent us to a place that was a living hell. These paedophiles must have thought they were in hog heaven,” he said.

David Hill, another victim of child abuse, wants the abusers to be "named and shamed.” He was 12 years old when he was sent to the Fairbridge Farm School in Western Australia. "Many of them are beyond the grave and therefore beyond the law. But it would bring a great deal of the comfort to the people who as children were victims of these people if they were named and shamed," the BBC quoted him saying.

Inquiry lead Professor Alexis Jay OBE said “the largest and most ambitious inquiry in the UK” will be beneficial for it can help authorities determine where things went wrong and prevent the same case. “This inquiry is a once in a lifetime opportunity to expose and understand how as a society we have failed to protection children from sexual abuse,” he said. The Australian and UK governments issued apologies to men and women who suffered in the hands of government institutions.