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IFSW honours Margaret Humphreys with award

Nominated by BASW for the Andrew Mouravieff-Apostol Medal

BASW is delighted that the International Federation of Social Workers (IFSW) honoured Margaret Humphreys CBE for her life-long service to international social work with its Andrew Mouravieff-Apostol Medal

BASW was pleased to nominate Margaret Humphreys, Director of the Child Migrant Trust, for this award, a nomination that was also supported by the Australian and Canadian associations.

Through her work with the Trust, which she set up after a single referral decades ago, Margaret has received worldwide acclaim for her tireless work supporting people who had been ‘migrated’ from the UK to other countries as children in care.

In many cases the children had been told that their parents had died, which was often untrue.

 The children were told they were going to a new life in warm and friendly places – ‘oranges and sunshine’ but in practice many were placed on rural farms or in residential institutions in Australia, Canada, New Zealand and Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) where they were expected to work hard. 

Many were badly abused and were only able to retrace contacts with their families of origin much later in life as a result of Margaret’s work and total determination.

Margaret published a book called ‘Empty Cradles’ in 1994 describing the work of the Trust, later republished as ‘Oranges and Sunshine’ in 2011.  This became an international best seller with all the profits being donated to the Trust.

Margaret was awarded the Order of Australia Medal (OAM) in 1993 and in 2019 was elevated to an Officer in the Order of Australia (AO) recognising ‘more than 30 years of service to former child migrants and their families’.  She was also appointed a Commander of the British Empire (CBE) in the United Kingdom. 

Margaret life was turned into feature film, ‘Orange and Sunshine’, with famed actress Emily Watson portraying her work as a social worker.

Margaret was instrumental in gaining public apologies from the Prime Ministers of Australia and the UK for the child migrant scandal. 

She was also influential in persuading governments to set up public inquiries into the scandals of abuse of children by the church, residential care agencies and others which are now happening in several countries including Australia, Canada, UK and others, to which she has given evidence.

Gerry Nosowska, Chair of BASW, said: “Margaret is a passionate social worker who is proud to use the title.  She is very committed to the principles of ethical practice and critical of social work agencies which do not follow ethical guidelines. 

“Margaret is still involved in person-to-person social work but also operates at the highest political levels with Presidents and Prime Ministers.

“She is currently working with North American universities on how governments and agencies should apologise for past social policies and social work practice which have damaged people and not lived up to social work values.” 

David Jones, Chair of BASW International Committee, has known and supported Margaret for many years.

He commented: “Margaret is a truly international social worker - working across borders with individuals, families and governments, mainly in the English-speaking world. 

“She is an inspirational person, totally committed to the values of social work and putting right the wrongs of past poor practice. She is a great role model for social workers and a very suitable candidate for the Andrew Mouravieff-Apostol Medal.”

 

'For decades, child migrants were lost and forgotten by our countries - both old and new. We didn't belong anywhere, we had no words to explain what had happened to us, or who we were.  We were truly lost in the wilderness.

Margaret found our families and brought us home, one by one. She stayed beside us and gave us a voice to help governments listen, and finally to understand.

National Apologies in the UK and Australia are testament to her work, and to our refusal to give in or be silenced.' - John Hennessey OAM (former child migrant, 2015)