Home' Aurora : Aurora September 2011 Contents 16
| Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle | www.mn.catholic.org.au
NOW LIVING IN Rutherford, David
contacted Aurora after reading about
Oranges and Sunshine in the July edition.
This film deals with the uncovering of the
child migration scheme by Nottingham
social worker, Margaret Humphreys, and
her commitment to reuniting British child
migrants with their families.
When did you arrive in Australia?
My brothers and I came from England
when I was 10, in 1954, to the Kingsley
Fairbridge Farm School, Pinjarra,
I have an older sister, Pam, an older brother,
Roy and a younger brother, Mike. When Dad
died Mum was doing it tough. She was only
a domestic working in a hotel. She used to
bring home comics for us kids even if she
went without eating.
We were told Mum and Pam would join us
in Australia in three months. I think Mum
was told that too or she wouldn't have
let us come.
Much later I found out Mum failed her
medical -- perhaps because she was deaf
-- and couldn't come out. She said she
wanted us boys back but was told she'd
have to pay for us to return to England. She
couldn't afford that.
I don't think she was ever going to be
allowed to come to Australia or to get us
back. I think they just said that to get
Do you remember much about the ship you
sailed on, the Arcadia?
Yes. It was a big thing for a young boy.
Early in the morning when we got up, they
used to leave milk and biscuits outside
everyone's cabins. We used to go and help
ourselves to most of them.
We stopped off in Bombay and the way they
treated the poor people there really made
an impact on me. If they were sitting on
the footpath, the police used to grab them
and throw them in the middle of the road to
clear the path for visitors. Life didn't seem
important if you were of a certain caste.
I remember a bus waiting for us when we
got off the ship at Fremantle. The shock
came when we got to Fairbridge. All our
clothes were taken: shoes, everything, and
we got a pair of shorts and a T-shirt.
We had to walk from the cottages down
to the dining room under blazing heat on
a rough, stony, boiling hot road. That was
agony on our soft little feet. When you'd get
stone bruises, you still had to walk on the
road. Some kids were so bad they had to
be taken to hospital.
I had a few bad bruises but I cheated a bit.
I got a paling off a fence. We chopped it,
put string around it, put it on our feet and
walked around. If you got caught you'd have
been in trouble.
Primary school was on the farm itself, but
the sad thing was that if you were pretty
bright it didn't matter because you were
there to do manual work. For high school,
we'd get the bus into Pinjarra.
Did you hear from your Mum?
We used to get letters from her. After a
while they stopped coming. We would ask if
any more had come. They told us she died.
I suppose they wanted to shut us up. I was
I wanted my mum. I always wondered why
my sister hadn't contacted us to tell us
Mum had died.
What was your daily routine?
We got up early to work. There were
different departments on the farm: pigs
and poultry, dairy, sheep and wheat. The
girls' cottages had to have wood for their
fires. The boys used to harness up the
old cart horses and go and get the girls'
wood. There were no chainsaws, just axes.
I was good with an axe. After school you'd
There were a lot of good times too. In the
bush we'd trap rabbits, cook them and
have a feed. I had a birds' egg collection.
You'll always switch off. You'll always
How old were you when you left Fairbridge?
16. They found me a job at a car body
builders. The Italian boys working there
made a target of me because I couldn't
afford to buy overalls. A lady made me
a pair on her sewing machine and they
were really bright blue satin. I used to get
The people at Fairbridge found me some
digs with a lady and her family. Her boys
used to flog me too. I had a hard time there.
I escaped from that job and I worked with
another car company. I became really
good mates with a fellow called Tony. I
told him about how bad it was where I
was living. We did a midnight flit. They still
don't know where I went. I lived with Tony
and his parents. They were lovely people.
One day I saw a sign to join the navy. I even
forged signatures but I got in. Recently
they (government officials) found out I'd
been nine years in the navy and I wasn't
even an Australian citizen. Very swiftly
they arranged for me to become a citizen,
I just assumed that when we were
brought to Australia we were naturalised
but nothing had been done.
I only realised this later, but when I was in
the navy I often rejected authority, probably
because of my early years.
What has been the most difficult aspect of
your life as a child migrant?
I think it was early on when you had
dreams and aspirations but you knew they
couldn't be fulfilled. I would have loved to
have done marine engineering but I never
had the chance. Then again, I might not
have been able to do it in England. We'll
It was also awful having no one to turn to.
For most people, if something goes wrong
they can go and see someone. But we
had no one. That was a bad feeling, just
What was a turning point in your adult life?
I thought I'd go to the eastern states. I
stood at the highway with $20 in my pocket,
put my thumb out and I got here. Later, I
got a job at Raymond Terrace, working on
the new bridge. I had a bad car accident
and they took me to Maitland Hospital.
I've been married to my nurse, Lillian, for
In 1971, we went across to England and
saw Mum and Pam.
When did you find out your Mum was alive?
In the navy. I used to send her presents.
She kept all of them in her cupboard.
She had her 75th birthday out here with
Lillian, me and our sons. She was 93 when
she died in 2003.
Seeking Fairbridge Childhood Companions
David would love to contact two of his
Fairbridge companions, Marcelle O'Brien
and Ruby Philips. If you can help, please
contact the Editor.
BETWEEN 1984 AND 2008, while rates
of crime either stayed steady or fell,
the number of Australians in prison per
100,000 people almost doubled. The
majority of Australian prisoners come from
the most disadvantaged sections of the
community: the underprivileged, those
suffering from mental illness, and especially
Indigenous people, who make up about 2.3
per cent of the Australian population, but
about 25 per cent of those in prison. The
incarceration rate for young Indigenous
people is even higher.
The disproportionate growth in
imprisonment has come about
in part because of repeated law-
and-order election campaigns and
sensationalist reporting, which encourage
the idea that crime is out of control.
These issues are addressed in the 2011
Social Justice Statement, Building Bridges,
Not Walls: Prisons and the justice system,
issued by the Catholic Bishops of Australia
for Social Justice Sunday, 25 September.
Jesus Christ never neglected outcasts and
criminals -- in fact, he sought to bring them
his message of salvation and redemption.
Inspired by the message and ministry of
Jesus, the bishops challenge us to confront
fear campaigns about law and order; to
address the social factors that contribute to
crime; to maintain the dignity of prisoners;
to help prisoners after release and to seek
practical alternatives to imprisonment.
By CATHERINE MAHONY
When the boat
"I looked back and Mum was the only one on the wharf. Every time I thought of Mum I thought of that little speck.
Years later I heard that Mum sat on the rocks watching the ship go out and bawling all day. She never moved,"
recounts British child migrant, David Andrews.
Building bridges, not walls
David and Lillian
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