Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Sour Truth in Land of Milk and Honey; TORN from Her Home and Let Down by Those Who Were Supposed to Care. KIM CARMICHAEL Speaks to a Tyneside Child Migrant Victim

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Sour Truth in Land of Milk and Honey; TORN from Her Home and Let Down by Those Who Were Supposed to Care. KIM CARMICHAEL Speaks to a Tyneside Child Migrant Victim

Article excerpt

Byline: KIM CARMICHAEL

PLUNGED into a world of fear and deprivation, Jackie Wiese was just 10 years old when she was shipped to Australia.

Nowadays, taking a child from their home and banishing them to the other side of the world could be seen as the ultimate act of cruelty. But until 1967, that is exactly what happened to the 150,000 children who were transported abroad under the Government's child migrant programme.

Jackie was taken from her Tyneside home and sent to Pinjarra, Western Australia, in 1950, following family problems.

Like the other youngsters, she'd been given a new outfit for the month-long voyage, even down to a smart new ribbon for her hair, and promised that a "land of milk and honey" awaited.

But upon arrival at her new "home", Fairbridge Farm, the beautiful new clothes were snatched away, in what was the start of years of astounding cruelty.

The farm was intended to have more of a family atmosphere than other children's homes and the youngsters lived in cottages with a "cottage mother". A cruel and twisted woman, the cottage mother would often flush Jackie's head down the toilet or lock her into a dark cupboard under the stairs.

But despite facing deprivation and loneliness on a daily basis, Jackie refused to forget her home and the family she left behind.

A true survivor whose love of the North East couldn't be erased, 60 years later Jackie has returned to Tyneside on a bittersweet journey to begin to make up for a lost childhood.

Now a mother of five, Jackie flew from Narrogin, Western Australia, to spend time with her nephew Jason Ridley, 36, and her sister Agnes Martinez, 64, both of whom live in Gateshead.

"There were so many children from the North East at Fairbridge Farm and I think that there must be a lot of families suffering that nobody knows about," she said.

"It was terrible what happened. My friend who lived in the same cottage was only four and I used to look after her.

"She was so young that she didn't understand why we were there. We still keep in touch today.

"The cottage mother was a spinster who said that God had sent her to Australia. …

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