Abuse Inquiry team to return to Australia

Abuse Inquiry team to return to Australia

A team from the Historical Institutional Abuse Inquiry will return to Australia to gather further information in relation to a child migrant scheme.

The scheme resulted in the transfer of children from institutions in Northern Ireland to institutions in Australia.Documentation already examined by the Inquiry team has revealed that, between 1947 and 1956, 110 children made the journey.Many of the children were sent to the western part of Australia. The move was part of a UK government policy of child migration.A team of Inquiry lawyers, support staff and Acknowledgement Forum Panel members will visit Australia next month.The visit will form part of the preparations for the investigation's second module of hearings.The Inquiry's remit is to investigate physical, emotional and sexual childhood abuse, and childhood neglect which occurred in residential institutions in Northern Ireland over a 73-year period up to 1995.It is chaired by Sir Anthony Hart. Public hearings began in January, and are currently being conducted in the former Banbridge Courthouse in Co Down.Module 1 of the Inquiry has been focusing on St Joseph's Home, Termonbacca, and Nazareth House Children's Home, Bishop Street, in Derry, which were children's homes run by the Sisters of Nazareth religious order.Module 2 hearings will commence at the beginning of September, Inquiry chairman Sir Anthony Hart confirmed on Monday.The Inquiry is scheduled to begin the hearings for Module 3 also in September - that section will focus on the former De La Salle Boys' Home, Rubane House, in Kircubbin, Co. Down.The Chairman said that the Inquiry has so far heard from 70 witnesses.He added that the statements from many of those witnesses have been given to the Inquiry as the public hearings have been taking place."In addition, so far over 18,000 documents have been placed before the Inquiry in this module alone. However, the Inquiry staff had to consider a great many more documents than that to decide which were relevant."Sir Hart explained: "I mention these matters to demonstrate that, as the public hearings take place, there is a great deal of preparatory work that continues to be done in order to take statements from witnesses and gather documents."All of this material has to be considered, collated and processed by the Inquiry before the public session in which a witness gives evidence."He said that an enormous amount of work was involved behind the scenes in order to prepare the necessary material for each day of public hearings."At the same time they are also pursuing investigations into other institutions, and preparing the necessary material for the Inquiry panel to consider in future modules."Sir Hart said that this work will continue over the summer months after the present module finishes. After this, the team will move on to investigate the child migrant scheme."Before that module can start, we have to complete our preparatory work for it, and a major part of that involves a second team from the Inquiry going from Northern Ireland to Australia to speak to those applicants who were not seen during last year's trip."Some of them will only speak to the Acknowledgement Forum, but a significant number have to be seen by the Inquiry team. Altogether this will tie up a significant number of Inquiry staff for all of June."That module will then start on Monday 1 September and, whilst the detailed timetable will not be finalised until nearer that time, we are setting aside three weeks for public sessions for that module."


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