NSW Premier Mike Baird. Photo: Peter RaePremier Mike Baird struggled to speak as he apologised to former child migrants who were physically and sexually assaulted at the notorious Fairbridge Farm School in the state’s central west.
The school was home to more than 1200 underprivileged children, some as young as four, who had been sent from their homes in England.
Mr Baird’s delivered his touching apology at state parliament on Thursday afternoon, causing the entire lower house to stand and applause.
“I am deeply, deeply sorry,” he said.
“On behalf of the State of NSW, I want to recognise all former child migrants who attended Fairbridge Farm in Molong, NSW.
“They arrived here as vulnerable and trusting children whose parents wanted nothing more than a better life than the one they could offer.”
In June this year, more than 60 adults who were abused as children, were awarded $24 million in what was the largest compensation payment for survivors of institutional child abuse in n legal history.
Former ABC managing director David Hill was a former resident and wrote about the experience in his book The Forgotten Children.
“They were not given the future they were promised, or the childhood they deserved,” Mr Baird said.
“They were betrayed by the people whose job it was to protect them, and were betrayed by this State which did not ensure their safety.
“I recognise these wrongs, knowing that it will not bring back the childhood they were robbed of.
“I acknowledge the burden many of them carry each and every day as a result of their experiences.”
An estimated 130,000 children were taken from the UK and sent to , New Zealand, Canada and Zimbabwe as part of the British child migration scheme.
More than 1200 were sent to the Fairbridge Farm School, which operated from 1938 to 1974.
The former residents were kept in primitive barracks, often starved, exploited for their labour, cruelly punished and sexually assaulted.