Recollections of a child migrant

Michael Goodwin and child migrants in 1947 (Battye Library)

Perth Catholic Michael Goodwin, who was just five when he was sent to Australia as a child migrant 70 years ago, says he has been blessed with a good life, The Record reports.

The friendships, lifelong bonds and extraordinary contributions to society of some 180 former child migrants were acknowledged at a special reunion lunch earlier this year to mark the 70th anniversary of their arrival in Western Australia.

One of those child migrants was 75-year-old Mirrabooka parishioner Michael Goodwin.

At the time of his birth, the war was ending and there was an influx of children either born out of wedlock or abandoned at orphanages, and the British government and Church had to find ways to resolve the issue, he said.

“So they decided to send all the children, including myself to countries like Australia, Canada and New Zealand (Commonwealth countries).

“I was sent on the Asturias, the first ship that came to Fremantle in 1947. From there, the children were sent off to Clontarf, Fairbridge, Castledare and Nazareth House." 

Mr Goodwin was adopted by an Irish Catholic family after a two-year process.

Although childhood in Australia was a bit of a blur, Mr Goodwin said he had a good life with loving parents who provided for him throughout his schooling. But as he got older, his curiosity to find his biological parents got stronger.

“We could not find out much, as when the children were sent here, the laws at that time were such that there were no archives kept. I didn’t come out with any siblings and later found out that I was the only child out of wedlock,” he said.

Abandoning his search, Mr Goodwin carried on with his life, got married and had two children. He moved to Melbourne and worked there for just over 10 years, not knowing that his biological mother was also living in Melbourne.

His daughter encouraged him to renew his search for his parents but roadblocks made the quest difficult.

Mr Goodwin said the much needed breakthrough came a few years ago when then British prime Minister Gordon Brown made a public apology to former child migrants and delivered funding to help them find their real parents.

Mr Goodwin said he is still looking for his father, if he is still alive, but had a lot of information about his mother, who had passed away by the time he discovered her identity.


A life of no regrets for child migrant, Michael Goodwin (The Record)

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