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Visit of John Moss

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In 1951, a British Home Office official named John Moss inspected and reported on Australian and New Zealand institutions where British child migrants were living. Moss spent July-December 1951 travelling around Australia and to New Zealand, inspecting institutions and making recommendations. His report, known as the Moss Report, was submitted to the British government in 1953.

John Moss, formerly of the Kent County Welfare Office, had served on the British Curtis Committee, which had investigated British out of home care in 1946. Moss was also a member of the British Central Training Council in Child Care. Later, he became an Assistant Under-Secretary of State in charge of the Children’s Department of the Home Office.

His visit to Australia and New Zealand was a privately undertaken tour during which he inspected Homes so that he could report back to the British government. Moss inspected multiple Homes in Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria, Tasmania, South Australia and Western Australia.

Moss also met with representatives of the Department of Immigration in Canberra, gave public talks, and met with the heads of welfare departments and church organisations responsible for the management of Homes. As well as providing broad recommendations about the continuation and scope of child and youth migration from Britain to Australia, he also provided specific recommendations for improvements for many of the Homes he visited.

His final report, known as the Moss Report, was submitted to the British government in 1953. The report included recommendations about recordkeeping and the full provision of case histories from Britain to Australia, the age of children and youths for different migration schemes, and appropriate conditions for the Homes. While there was correspondence between the Department of Immigration and the organisations responsible for running the Homes about the implementation of at least some of the Moss Report recommendations, it is not clear that any major changes were effected by the Moss Report. Coldrey (2001) notes that, despite noting issues with some Homes, Moss was generally in favour of sending British children to Australia.

Information and correspondence about the Moss visit and Report is located at the National Archives of Australia. There is also correspondence in state archives about the activities of Moss in that state, for example Archives Tasmania.

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