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Sketchbook from Robert Stephen

Date: c 1950
315 x 250 mm
Medium: Ink on paper
Credit Line: ANMM Collection Gift from Robert Stephens
Object Name: Sketchbook
Object No: 00054487

User Terms

    This flower scrapbook was British child migrant Robert Stephens' most precious possession as it was something he had created with his mother. They roamed the fields around his orphanage in Havant, near Portsmouth, picking flowers and plant specimens for this scrapbook during her weekly visits.

    SignificanceThis scrapbook provides a highly poignant, personal perspective on family, identity and loss. It speaks volumes about Robert Stephens' enduring attachment to England and the difficulties of leaving his family as an unaccompanied child migrant. Robert’s story is typical of many former child migrants, who contrary to popular belief, were not orphans but came from broken homes or families struggling financially.
    HistoryBetween 1913 and 1967, more than 7,000 British children were sent to Australia by charities such as Fairbridge, Barnardo's, and the Salvation Army. The Fairbridge Farm School in Molong NSW (opened 1937) was one of three farm training schools established under Fairbridge principles in Australia. South African philanthropist Kingsley Fairbridge aimed to alleviate the plight of British slum children by sending them to farm schools in the colonies. The idea was to remove children from impoverishment, while simultaneously developing remote rural areas of the British empire with young white labour.

    Supported by the Western Australian government, Kingsley and his wife Ruby established the first Fairbridge Farm School at Pinjarra, south east of Perth in 1913. Fairbridge died in 1924, but the scheme continued. Children lived in cottages under a cottage mother, attended local state schools until they were 14, and then spent 12-18 months training in farm work on the property.

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