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  • Open Access
  • © 2021

UK Child Migration to Australia, 1945-1970

A Study in Policy Failure

Palgrave Macmillan


  • Explores how policy decisions and administrative systems of the United Kingdom Government failed to protect migrated children

  • Considers how complex government systems and policy-makers’ own perceptions of their limits of their power contribute to such policy failures

  • Examines the causes of policy failure in the care of vulnerable citizens

  • This book is open access, which means that you have free and unlimited access

Part of the book series: Palgrave Studies in the History of Childhood (PSHC)

Buying options

Softcover Book USD 49.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)
Hardcover Book USD 59.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)

About this book

This open access book offers an unprecedented analysis of child welfare schemes, situating them in the wider context of post-war policy debates about the care of children. Between 1945 and 1970, an estimated 3,500 children were sent from Britain to Australia, unaccompanied by their parents, through child migration schemes funded by the Australian and British Governments and delivered by churches, religious orders and charities. Functioning in a wider history of the migration of unaccompanied children to overseas British colonies, the post-war schemes to Australia have become the focus of public attention through a series of public reports in Britain and Australia that have documented the harm they caused to many child migrants.
Whilst addressing the wide range of organisations involved, the book focuses particularly on knowledge, assumptions and decisions within UK Government Departments and asks why these schemes continued to operate in the post-war period despite often failing to adhere to standards of child-care set out in the influential 1946 Curtis Report. Some factors – such as the tensions between British policy on child-care and assisted migration – are unique to these schemes. However, the book also examines other factors such as complex government systems, fragmented lines of departmental responsibility and civil service cultures that may contribute to the failure of vulnerable people across a much wider range of policy contexts.


  • religion
  • charity
  • colonies
  • open access
  • empire


“UK Child Migration to Australia is a significant and revealing book that presents a meticulously crafted and compelling explanation for a sorry episode in British and Australian history. Its findings, including those pertaining to individual homes, offer new insights to former child migrants and their families who want to understand their own histories more fully. Of equal importance, it shows how history can be used to prevent mistakes now and in the future.” (Caroline Evans, The Journal of the History of Childhood and Youth, Vol. 15 (3), 2022)

Authors and Affiliations

  • University of Kent, Canterbury, UK

    Gordon Lynch

About the author

Gordon Lynch is Michael Ramsey Professor of Modern Theology at the University of Kent, UK. In addition to writing books and articles on the history of child migration, he has also given extensive evidence on this history as an expert witness to two national child abuse inquiries in the United Kingdom.

Bibliographic Information

  • Book Title: UK Child Migration to Australia, 1945-1970

  • Book Subtitle: A Study in Policy Failure

  • Authors: Gordon Lynch

  • Series Title: Palgrave Studies in the History of Childhood

  • DOI:

  • Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan Cham

  • eBook Packages: History, History (R0)

  • Copyright Information: The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s) 2021

  • License: CC BY

  • Hardcover ISBN: 978-3-030-69727-3Published: 22 April 2021

  • Softcover ISBN: 978-3-030-69730-3Published: 22 April 2021

  • eBook ISBN: 978-3-030-69728-0Published: 21 April 2021

  • Series ISSN: 2634-6532

  • Series E-ISSN: 2634-6540

  • Edition Number: 1

  • Number of Pages: XIII, 338

  • Topics: History of Britain and Ireland, History, Imperialism and Colonialism

Buying options

Softcover Book USD 49.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)
Hardcover Book USD 59.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)