Commemorating the 70th anniversary of the arrival of the Child Migrants

On Wednesday 3 August Dominic College commemorated 70 years since the arrival of the Former British Child Migrants, when 39 young boys arrived at Boys’ Town in 1952 from orphanages in Great Britain.

Six of these children were able to attend our assembly and receive our proud acknowledgement and sincere thanks for helping our school to grow in the early days and for helping us to understand and appreciate our heritage and history.

Dominic College Principal, Mr Stephen Casni, explained to the assembly that our first Rector and Principal, Fr John Brennan SDB, was able to use government funds to help build the school at Boys’ Town because the Salesians committed to look after a selection of child migrants from Britain.

The boys, aged from 8 to 13 years old, arrived in Melbourne on two voyages of the Ormonde, in June and September 1952 amongst thousands of migrant men, women, children and families, to start a new life in Australia.

They didn’t always have a happy time: there was harsh discipline and fear of punishment. But many boys enjoyed their new lives in Tasmania and built friendships and families here.

The boys had not been told the truth about their parents and families back in Britain. They learned of their connections late in life – too late for some to reconnect. This lost opportunity hurt them badly.

The 39 Former British Child Migrants were inducted into the Dominic College Hall of Achievement as a group in 2003, for their Human Spirit and their inspirational attitude to the challenges of life. The school celebrated their 60th anniversary in 2012 and stays in touch with the men as honoured old scholars.

Our students and guests enjoyed a lively assembly which included a moving film about their lives, performances from the College Concert Band, and the presentation of awards and certificates to a number of students and groups who have been performing and achieving so well this year.

After the assembly guests and student leaders enjoyed refreshments and a cutting (and eating) of a special 70th anniversary cake.

We continue to honour the stories of these special old scholars at Dominic College, as we learn about our past and the heritage of our school.

You can see more photos on our gallery: 70 Years Commemoration and you can view the short documentary video shown at the assembly here: 70 Years Film.