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Silk scarf bought by Robert in Port Said

Date: 1952
Medium: Silk
Credit Line: ANMM Collection Gift from Robert Stephen
Object Name: Scarf
Object No: 00054491
Related Place:Bur Said,

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    Description
    British child migrant Robert Stephens selected this silk scarf in his favourite colours to send home to his mother in England. It was purchased from one of the floating hawkers that pulled alongside the OTRANTO in Port Said as Robert travelled to Australia with the Fairbridge scheme in 1952.
    SignificanceThis scarf is a poignant reminder of Robert Stephens' enduring attachment to his homeland and his family. 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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