British child migrants who were physically and sexually abused as children at a notorious orphanage farm in rural Australia have had their long fight for justice immortalised in a new book.

Reckoning by David Hill – a former child migrant himself who went on to become the Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s chairman – is the follow-up work to The Forgotten Children, which was published 15 years ago.

While the earlier book was an oral history of dozens of first-hand accounts of the children who were sent to Fairbridge Farm School in Molong, the latest work details how it sent shock waves through the British and Australian governments.

The child migration scheme between 1912 and 1980 saw about 130,000 children from largely impoverished backgrounds sent from the UK to Australia, Canada, New Zealand and Zimbabwe (then Rhodesia).

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Gordon Brown apologised to child migrants while prime minister in 2010, although it was some years later that he learnt about the full scale of sexual abuse many suffered (Peter Macdiarmid/PA)Gordon Brown apologised to child migrants while prime minister in 2010, although it was some years later that he learnt about the full scale of sexual abuse many suffered (Peter Macdiarmid/PA)

Initially all children were sent on their own but this changed in 1957 when the One Parent Scheme was introduced, which allowed those with parents to have one of them also go to Australia to set up a home and find work. Once the children were legally allowed to leave school, the child and parent could be reunited.

READ MORE: Trainline are offering up to 50 per cent off tickets for the Great British Rail Sale

READ MORE: Co-op to scrap use-by dates on their own-brand yoghurts

The farm school to which Mr Hill and around a thousand other “orphans of the Empire” were sent had been blacklisted by the Home Office in 1956 but would continue to operate for the next two decades.

“The Australian government, the New South Wales (NSW) government and the British Government are all guilty of lying, denying and covering up and they all got caught,” Mr Hill told the PA news agency.

“Now all of them, all of those governments, and the Fairbridge institutions in the UK and New South Wales… they’ve all acknowledged, it did happen.

"They’ve apologised to the victims and they’ve all agreed to pay financial compensation.”

His 2007 book, which was followed by a nationally broadcast documentary in Australia, would prompt more former residents to come forward with revelations of mistreatment, rape and molestation at the farm school. By the time most of its 200-odd survivors received a record pay-out of 24 million Australian dollars (£13.6 million) from the NSW government in 2015, more than 60% claimed to have been abused.

Two years later at Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) in London, former prime minister Gordon Brown would call child migration “government-induced (human) trafficking” a “bigger sex scandal” than Jimmy Savile.

Mr Brown said: “This seems to me as probably the biggest national sex abuse scandal. Bigger than what people have alleged about Savile. Bigger than what people have alleged about individual children’s homes.

“Bigger in scale, bigger in geographical spread, and bigger in the length of time that it went on undetected. I’m shocked about the information that I have seen.”

When the IICSA published its final report in March 2018 it found evidence that both the British Government and Fairbridge Society were aware of abuse at the farm schools as early as the 1930s. It also said: “Fairbridge UK denied responsibility, and was at best wilfully blind to the evidence of sexual abuse contained within its own archives.”