REGULAR readers of this newspaper will recall the heart-warming story of South Windsor resident June ‘Marie’ Reid’s reunion with her long-lost sister of 72 years, in April 2018.
Mrs Reid has now received news of an unexpected - and very welcome - windfall from the UK Government.
Mrs Reid, who was put into the care of a Dr Barnado’s children’s home in England in 1946, was sent to Australia when she was nearly 11 years old, and placed in Dr Barnardos Girls’ Home in Burwood.
Now 77, Mrs Reid was one of an estimated 15,000 children who were sent to far-flung destinations (including Australia, New Zealand, Rhodesia and Canada) after the Second World War, as part of the UK’s child migration policy.
Mrs Reid was reunited with her sister Anne Whitney through the Child Migrants Trust, which campaigns to raise public awareness of the long-term impact of child migration schemes.
Last month, the UK Government announced it would offer all former British child migrants financial redress of 20,000 British pounds (approximately $36,000) per person, "in recognition of the fundamentally flawed nature of the historic child migration policy".
Mrs Reid said she had “no idea” she was eligible for the compensation payment before the Child Migrants Trust contacted her about it, and said it was "wonderful news".
She told the Gazette she might put the money towards a trip to Hawaii for her and her sister Anne, who lives in Canada.
In the meantime, the duo are planning another catch-up in the Hawkesbury.
“We’re arranging for Anne to come to Australia at the end of May this year, and she’ll be staying for two weeks. We have made arrangements with the Child Migrants Trust and they are allowing Anne’s cousin on her side to come with her two, so meeting [her cousin] will be another great surprise!” Mrs Reid said.
She encouraged any other child migrants to get in touch with the Child Migrants Trust, as they may also be entitled to the compensation money.
A notice on the UK Government’s website stated the payments were being made in respect of the harm done to former British child migrants in being separated from their families and sent overseas.
“Payments will be made to all former British child migrants, regardless of whether they suffered abuse,” the website stated.
“Applications for payment will open on Friday 1 March and will be handled by the Child Migrants Trust.”
Go to www.childmigrantstrust.com or call 1800 040 509 for more information and details about how to launch a claim.