Alone on a Wide Wide Sea: Exploring Narratives of Child Migration from Britain to Australia

Author: Nadia von Benzon
Institution: Lancaster University
Year of publication: 2019
Source: Show
Pages: 24-38
DOI Address:
PDF: kie/124/kie12402.pdf

Focusing on identity formation amongst child migrants, this paper reflects on the experiences of unaccompanied minors sent from Britain to Australia in the 20th Century. Between 1947-1967 3170 children are understood to have been exported to Australia, making Britain the only country in the world known to have exported children during peace time. Most of these children came from British care homes to which they had been entrusted by their families or social workers. The majority of exported children were from working class backgrounds and many still had living parents, or other close family, in the UK. Children as young as four were sent to train as farm labourers and domestic staff, simultaneously relieving the burden of providing for these children from the British Government, and increasing the white population in ‘underpopulated’ Australia. The paper presents thematic analysis of four published sources produced for a wide readership: two published memoirs and two young adult novels. The paper seeks to reflect on the impact of forced transnational migration on the children’s identity formation as new Australians.


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  • Humphreys, M. (2011)5. Empty Cradles. London: Transworld Publishers.
  • Morpurgo, M. (2007). Alone on a Wide Wide Sea. Holmfirth, UK: HarperCollins Children’s Books.

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