IICSA, child migration, and the CofE

IICSA Report on child migration published

On 1 March 2018, the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse published its report Child Migration Programmes which criticises Government for the policy of child migration and recommends that all child migrants are financially compensated by HMG through a redress scheme. The report also recommends that organisations involved in implementing the migration programmes offer apologies to child migrants, where they have failed to do so.

The “sending institutions” considered in the report are: Barnardo’s; The Fairbridge Society; The Children’s Society; The National Children’s Home; 5 The Royal Overseas League; Cornwall County Council; The Salvation Army UK; The Church of England Advisory Council for Empire Settlement; The Sisters of Nazareth; Father Hudson’s; The Catholic Church.

The section of the report dealing with the Church of England is reproduced below. The Church has issued a separate Press Release in which it states:

“… we are truly sorry for any part the Church of England, through its Advisory Council for Empire Settlement (CEACES), played in supporting the Government’s migration programme. We renew our apology to the children and their families who were affected by this scheme. As we stated after the hearing last summer, we pay tribute to the courage of the former child migrants who came forward to share their stories providing detailed accounts of how unaccompanied children sent abroad, supposedly for a better life, often suffered appalling hurt and abuse.

While there is some evidence of reporting back to CEACES, we accept that this was not enough to provide detailed information on how the children were being treated abroad. Although the migration programmes are closed, we hope that the conclusions of IICSA’s report will be widely read to ensure that this never happens again. As a Church we accept the recommendations and will be considering the detail of the report’s findings”.

The BBC Report IICSA inquiry says UK government should pay Australia child migrants provides an overview and analysis.

Extract from “Child Migration Programmes“,  pp 120-121, references omitted

2.8 The Church of England Advisory Council for Empire Settlement

1. The Church of England Advisory Council on Empire Settlement (CEACES) was a part of the Church of England devoted to managing the Church of England’s participation in the child migration programmes. It had a logistical and information-providing role in the child migration programmes, coordinating the migration of children to affiliated institutions in Australia.

2.8.1 What was the role of the CEACES in child migration?

2. From 1947-1965, the CEACES was responsible for migrating 408 children to Australia. In common with other Church of England organisations, CEACES saw migration both as a means to benefit the children and an opportunity to strengthen the church’s presence in Australia. The CEACES did not manage any childcare institutions but provided information/logistical services that facilitated migration, in response to block nominations sent from Church of England-affiliated institutions in Australia.584 The CEACES migrated children to Church of England institutions in Australia, such as Clarendon in Tasmania and various Swan Homes.

3. The Inquiry heard no evidence from a former CEACES child migrant alleging sexual abuse, but the experts have identified two such allegations, and our table of further accounts includes six allegations of abuse at Swan Homes, to which the CEACES migrated children.

2.8.2 What did the CEACES know about alleged sexual abuse of its child migrants?

4. The Inquiry has seen no evidence that CEACES was informed of allegations or evidence, during the migration period, of the sexual abuse of child migrants.

2.8.3 Did the CEACES take sufficient care to protect its child migrants from sexual abuse? 


5. A 1953 memorandum indicates that after children had been referred to the CEACES (about which process little is known), they were subjected to a reasonably thorough interviewing and screening process, which included interviews of their parents. From 1958, the CEACES’ policy was that where a child had a living parent, that child would only be accepted for migration if the parent had also been accepted for migration and would follow the child.


6. It appears that the CEACES delegated supervisory responsibility to local Church of England-affiliated committees or to the institutions themselves. There is some evidence of reporting about CEACES-migrated children sent back to the CS.

Inspection and reporting

7. The CEACES appears to have carried out one inspection, conducted by its Secretary Ms Jones in 1955 and 1956. What information exists about her findings suggests that they were uniformly positive: she visited every home and was satisfied with what she saw. However, her views were at odds with the findings of the Ross Mission, which was conducting its inspections at around the same time, and which was critical of some of the homes.

Based on the evidence available, there are concerns about whether the CEACES’ inspection and reporting processes were robust.

2.8.4 Post-migration matters

8. The CEACES no longer exists. The Inquiry has not seen any evidence relevant to the issue of support and reparations for former child migrants in respect of CEACES.

Cite this article as: David Pocklington, "IICSA, child migration, and the CofE" in Law & Religion UK, 2 March 2018, http://www.lawandreligionuk.com/2018/03/02/iicsa-child-migration-and-the-cofe/

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