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As examples, Plowman cites the frequency with which child migrants in the 1950s did not wear shoes, were given ‘hand-me-down' clothing, tasked with physical labour, and subjected to discipline and corporal punishment.
‘When I was at Tardun, on Saturday morning we would go down to the paddock and throw stumps on the fire,' he recalled. ‘However, for kids to work in the 1950s was a common thing. One of the problems with judging by today's standards is we forget a lot of that.
‘Would those who have done very well in their adopted country have fared as well in the more hierarchical and class conscious home countries?... Would the rate of marriage and long-term relationships have been different? Would the level of alcoholism or drug dependency of some have been different?'
Plowman doesn't have the answers. ‘People want to generalise and that's very difficult to do... Child migration was but a very small part, a fragment, of the general exodus from Malta following World War II. It is, nevertheless, a distinctive part of Maltese history, and one that should be remembered if we are to learn from our history,' he concludes.
In 2009, the Australian Government issued a national apology to the hundreds of thousands of people, including British and Maltese child migrants, who were abused or neglected in state care between 1930 and 1970.
Monuments to Maltese child migration now stand in Fremantle, Western Australia and Valletta Waterfront, Malta.