Oranges and Sunshine
Oranges and Sunshine is a feature film depicting child migration that is on national release in Australia from 9 June 2011. The film is based on the work of Margaret Humphreys OAM, CBE as described in her book Empty Cradles (recently reissued with the title Oranges and Sunshine). The name comes from the promise made to child migrants of a new life in Australia 'where the sun shines all the time and you can pick oranges off the tree for breakfast'. The film has been directed by Jim Loach and stars Emily Watson, David Wenham and Hugo Weaving.
Margaret Humphreys is a social worker from Nottingham, England who was contacted in the mid 1980s by a woman in Australia who said she had been migrated as a child and asking for help to find relatives. Through this single encounter Margaret discovered something that she did not know - that many thousands of children had been sent to Australia as child migrants. She brought this to public attention and then went on to establish the Child Migrants Trust to help them.
In her early days Margaret faced considerable challenges and a lack of acknowledgement from the British and Australian governments – as well as from most of the charities that had been associated with child migration. Most did not feel that they had any responsibility for what happened in the past, and did not admit that the scheme had been flawed.
Margaret writes in Empty Cradles:
Thankfully, not all of the charities we approached felt this way. Annabel and I arranged to see Louise Voigt, Executive Director of Barnardos Australia, who admitted quite openly that the child migration schemes had led to massive problems. “These people lost touch with their roots, with their siblings, and their social milieu. There were many human tragedies."
In her early days Margaret faced an uphill challenge to try to provide assistance in Australia – especially when the feature length documentary Lost Children of the Empire was screened on Australia's ABC television. Margaret simply did not have the resources to follow up the anticipated number of telephone calls and provide an ongoing response.
Margaret writes in Empty Cradles:
There was obviously a huge need for on-going support lines, which the ABC couldn’t provide. Thankfully ever since my first visit to Sydney, I’d had good relations with Barnardos Australia, and it helped us find accommodation and telephones.
Barnardos Australia is supportive of the work of Margaret Humphreys, the Child Migrants Trust, and of the release in Australia of Oranges and Sunshine. We believe strongly that films and exhibitions that record the history of migration to Australia are important to improving understanding of who we are as a nation. We believe Oranges and Sunshine will add to this knowledge base. Barnardos has also participated in the development of exhibitions including On Their Own: Britain's Child Migrants held at the Australian Maritime Museum in 2010-2011, and With the Best of Intentions about the Mowbray Park Farm School which is being held at Wollondilly Heritage Centre until 2012.
Barnardos' relationship with child migrants continues through our Aftercare support service. We offer individuals free access to their files, produce a twice yearly magazine, and facilitate Old Boys and Girls reunions. A former child migrant sits on our board of directors and several of our Old Boys and Girls have written historical accounts of their time in Barnardos that tell their experiences in their own words.
Barnardos welcomes contact from any Barnardos child migrants who wish to discuss the movie or their past experiences. Please call 02 9218 2300 for further information.