From the New York Times:

In an emotional address in Canberra, with many in the audience weeping, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd issued a national apology for Australia’s role in child migrant programs that forcibly sent an estimated 150,000 British youngsters — known in Australia as the Lost Innocents — to Australia, Canada and other parts of the Commonwealth. The programs ended about 40 years ago.

I knew Australia had a sketchy immigration history, what with the White Australia Policy and all. But I hadn’t run across this particularly sordid piece of nastiness. Turns out the kids were whisked away from poor families and single mothers (you know, all those unfit people), and generally subjected to all kinds of physical and emotional abuse, and used for cheap labor.

In theory the program was supposed to “relieve financial burdens on Britain’s social service agencies” and give poor kids a new lease on life (as well as import “good white stock”) Instead they ended up being beaten, starved, raped, worked to exhaustion, and generally brutally deprived of anything that could be called a childhood.

One thing to remember – plenty of kids are still living this way today. Except instead of importing them to our countries, we export our labor, and our abuse, to them.