The Prince’s Trust, the charity founded by Prince Charles, is set to provide funds for abuse survivors who make claims under Australia’s child abuse redress scheme.
- Christopher Crooks says he was sexually abused three times as a child while he was under care
- The charity responsible for placing Mr Crooks in care has since been taken over by the Prince’s Trust
- The Trust said it will provide funds so abuse survivors can make claims under the National Redress Scheme
The Trust had been facing calls to join the scheme itself because of its links to the former child migration charity the Fairbridge Society, which is facing claims under the scheme.
In a statement to RN Breakfast, the Prince’s Trust has now confirmed it has reinstated Fairbridge as an independent body, with the hope it will join the scheme.
“The Prince’s Trust is providing Fairbridge with funds, to give victims and survivors the opportunity to make claims and it is also our hope that Fairbridge will sign up to the Australian redress scheme,” a spokesperson for The Trust said.
“We are in proactive and ongoing talks with the Australian authorities and with the administrators of Fairbridge and we are committed to finding the best way to support the victims and survivors.”
“We categorically condemn all forms of child abuse. Although The Prince’s Trust has never had any involvement in child migration schemes, we once again want to say we are deeply sorry for the hurt and suffering experienced by victims and survivors.”
Australian man asks Trust to join
The Prince’s Trust had been asked to join the scheme by 67-year-old Australian man Christopher Crooks, who was abused in the late 1950s when he was living in a Tasmanian children’s home operated by the Fairbridge Society.
In 2012, the Fairbridge Society was rolled into the Prince’s Trust, a global charity founded by Prince Charles, who now serves as its president.
Mr Crooks said if the Prince’s Trust signed up to the scheme, it would be a major win for him and other former child migrants with claims against Fairbridge.
“Because I don’t think anybody cares.”
Mr Crooks has welcomed the statement from the Trust.
The National Redress Scheme was set up in the wake of the Royal Commission into historic child sexual abuse as a way to compensate the tens of thousands of people who were abused as children in the care of institutions around Australia.
The Australian Government has set a June 30 deadline for charities to indicate if they will join the scheme.
Other Fairbridge survivors could now come forward
The Fairbridge Society was founded in the early 20th century and was deeply involved in child migration, sending British children to live in other parts of the Commonwealth including Canada and Zimbabwe.
Between 1947 and 1965 alone, it sent nearly 1,000 children to homes across Australia.
Mr Crooks is one of thousands of child migrants who moved to Australia from the United Kingdom in search of a better life.
Along with his sister, he arrived in 1958, travelling ahead of their mother.
The children were transported by the Fairbridge Society and placed in a facility they operated called the Tresca home.
It was in the care of the home Mr Crooks was physically abused by the warden, Harry Richmond and his wife Lily.
He received an apology from the Tasmanian government and $23,000 in compensation in 2006.
He was later also paid 20,000 pounds by a British scheme set up to compensate child migrants.
But Mr Crooks said the full extent of the abuse he suffered has never been recognised.
He launched an application under the National Redress Scheme and said he was sexually abused on three occasions while under the care of Fairbridge.
Although Mr Crooks says the sexual abuse took place during an unsupervised trip away from the Tresca home, his lawyers believe he may have an eligible claim under the scheme.
Even six decades later, Mr Crooks finds it very difficult to recount his time as a child migrant in Tasmania.
He said he has lived a successful life but has always found it very hard to trust people.
“Every time I think about my year at Tresca, and after having filled in a 64-page application to the National Redress Scheme, I very often feel extremely suicidal,” he said.
“But I’ve been talked out of that and continue to just fight because the fight won’t go out of me until I die.”
If Fairbridge does sign up to the redress scheme, Christopher’s claim will be able to proceed.
He’s not the only one who has been waiting for a breakthrough.
Anna Swain is the acting principal lawyer at Knowmore, which was set-up to help abuse survivors lodge claims under Australia’s National Redress Scheme.
“This really impacts a lot of people, a lot of survivors who have waited so long and are ready to get some acknowledgment from the institution.”