The Forgotten Children

David Hill

RRP: £8.99

6 July 2017

Published by Allen & Unwin

ISBN: 9781760631321

RRP: £6.99

6 July 2017

Published by Allen & Unwin

ISBN: 9781760638771

In 1959 David Hill’s mother – a poor single parent living in Sussex – reluctantly decided to send her sons to Fairbridge Farm School in Australia 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 fascinating account of an extraordinary episode in British history.


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...A triumph of spirit and craft and humane forgiveness.Thomas Keneally

A compelling and moving account of how institutional cruelty was covered up by secrecy and wishful thinking.Geoffrey Robertson QC