Closed worlds: reflections on institutional care and child slavery in Australia

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Hil, R, Penglase, J & Smith, G 2008, 'Closed worlds. Reflections on institutional care and child slavery in Australia', Children Australia, vol. 33, no. 1, pp. 12-17.

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This article deals with various implications arising from evidence of slavery experienced by children placed in orphanages and children's homes between 1910 and 1974. Slavery was an integral part of the day-to- day realities of many of these children who also experienced forms of sexual, physical and emotional abuse in institutions that were supposedly responsible for their care. It is argued that slave labour in care settings contravened various provisions contained in welfare legislation of the period and was used to supplement the incomes of care institutions. The end result was that children were often compelled to work rather than receive the education to which they were entitled, rendering them ill-prepared to deal with various challenges in later life. This largely hidden story of slavery among the 'Forgotten Australians' is one of crude exercise of self-serving authority over children authority aimed at serving the interests of institutions rather than the children they were meant to help.

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