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Born in England, Australian activist Laurie Humphreys (1933-2012) was in institutions for most of his childhood.

Laurie was four years old when he was put into an orphanage in Southhampton, England after his mother died. He lived there for ten years until he was shipped out to Australia.

Laurie spent the first three years in Australia at Bindoon, a ‘farm and trade school’ for boys aged twelve to sixteen run by the Christian Brothers in a small town 79 km north of Perth in Western Australia.

[Bindoon] was like a prison really because you were in, you couldn’t go anywhere, you couldn’t just walk out. And there was a lot of work… the work came first, the food came second, and the play was a miserable last (Humphreys).

At fourteen Laurie was an unlicensed truck driver on public roads carting sand, gravel and metal for Bindoon.

Soon after he turned seventeen, Laurie was sent off to work in a powerhouse for two years. He worked on farms before he drove oil tankers over long distances for twenty-five years.

I was also an active trade unionist and served twenty-two years as a local councillor (Humphreys).

When he turned fifty, Laurie began looking for his family. He went to England in 1982 and met two brothers and a sister. His father had been dead for five years, even though nuns had signed off when Laurie was a child that his father had died.

Laurie returned regularly to England and discovered that his father had remarried and had another seven children, fathering in total around fifteen children.

Laurie Humphreys was active in the Western Australian community bringing together those now known as Former Child Migrants and Forgotten Australians. For example, he organised a reunion for former child migrants in 2007, sixty years after they arrived at Fremantle Port in 1947.

Two years later he was campaigning for an apology to be delivered to Former Child Migrants, and to others who had been institutionalised as children and incorporated a group called Forgotten Australians Coming Together (FACT).

FACT later set up Tuart Place to support all those who’d grown up in ‘out of home care’.

References

“Bindoon (1936 – 1966).” Find & Connect, 2021. https://www.findandconnect.gov.au/guide/wa/WE00190

 “Forgotten Australians: Laurie’s Story.” Youtube, posted by Families Australia, 1 January 2013. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rnO5mCR8ggs

Membery, York. “It happened to me: I was sent to Australia as a child migrant.” Daily Mail Australia, 26 December 2009. https://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-1238063/It-happened-I-sent-Australia-child-migrant.html

Thomson, Chris. “Forgotten Australians demand an apology.” WAtoday, 27 July 2009. https://www.watoday.com.au/national/western-australia/forgotten-australians-demand-an-apology-20090726-dxbm.html

“Laurie Humphreys.” ABC Radio Perth, 18 September 2007. https://www.abc.net.au/local/stories/2007/09/18/2037003.htm

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