Historical Institutional Abuse Inquiry: Boys made to paint faces black to make them look ‘like Australian Aborigines’

The former home at Termonbacca in Derry.
The former home at Termonbacca in Derry.
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A man once housed at a Catholic Church run home in Derry has told the inquiry into institutional abuse in Northern Ireland that he and other young boys who were shipped to Australia had their faces painted black in order to make them look like Aborigines.

Now in his 70s, the man told the inquiry sitting at Banbridge Courthouse that he was sent to Australia from Termonbacca in 1953.

He also said he was the victim of both physical and sexual abuse and continued by saying that on the boat journey to Australia the child migrants were made to entertain paying passengers and “our faces were painted to make us look like Aborigines.”

Another witness who later joined the Austrailian Airforce said he was beaten to “exact the most fear and terror” at Termonbacca and then suffered physical and sexual abuse at a Catholic training in Bindoon in Australia.

“After Bindoon, Termonbacca turned out to be a holiday camp,” he said.

Last week the inquiry heard that as many as 131 children from Northern Ireland, some as young as five, were sent to Australia as child migrants.

Their evidence is set to be continued to be heard via videolink or through written statements over the next few weeks.