David Hill -- who attended the Fairbridge Farm School in Molong, Australia, before finding success in media and politics -- talked with Britain's Sunday Telegraph about his time at Fairbridge.
Farm schools were established to send British slum children out to a farm where they could work, attend school and get away from the hardships of life in the London slums.
Hill said his experience at Fairbridge was not unpleasant, but in researching the facility and other farm schools, he said he found astonishing evidence of deplorable living conditions, intense physical labor and sexual abuse at the hands of school authorities, the Telegraph said.
Hill, who has authored and co-authored several books on the subject of farm schools, talked to numerous former farm school students who told stories of being severely beaten, trying to run away and suffering from sexual abuse.
Other British farm schools existed in Tasmania and parts of Africa, the Telegraph said.