A BRIEF HISTORY OF AUSTRALIA AND MIGRATION

 

MIGRATION IS THE HISTORY OF HUMANKIND
WOULD YOU BE ALLOWED IN?
THE MIGRANT COMES TO AUSTRALIA
THE ACTS OF THE NEW NATION - AUSTRALIA’S NEW CONSTITUTION AND CITIZENSHIP ACTS
WHAT IS A MIGRANT?
MIGRATION: Sponsored, Assisted DP's,  Refugees - Today, 2008






MIGRATION IS THE HISTORY OF HUMANKIND

 

Winston Churchill said, “Without history there is no survival.”

Seen from a satellite the earth must appear as a teeming mass of people going from one place to another.  History shows that people in distress and subject to persecution flee from their country of birth to find a safer place to live.  We all need the same things – shelter, warmth, food and love.  Migration is the history of humankind.


We don’t always learn from wars.  A wise man once said, ‘A deed forgotten is bound to be repeated.”  I believe that without an appreciation of history there is no future.


People who settle in another land are people like all of us.  I became interested in the post-war migrants who came to the Central Highlands of Tasmania from 1949-1956 and recorded ten of their stories in my book, Echoes on the Mountain.


Interesting research turned up the circumstances of our early migrants, the Government Acts that were passed and the progress of migration in Australia.  The link ‘A brief history of Australia and Migration’ includes that Acts of 1900 to the present day.  The Migration Act of 1958 has had 507 provisions!  The first Naturalisation Act excluded aboriginal people and Asians, and ‘aliens’ were people outside those who:

  - had been naturalised.

  - and natural-born citizens. 

This became known as the WHITE AUSTRALIA POLICY.

 

WOULD YOU BE ALLOWED IN?

THE QVMAG MIGRANT DISPLAY

 

QVMAG is the Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery in Launceston, Tasmania.


COULD YOU ENTER AUSTRALIA UNDER THE WHITE AUSTRALIA POLICY?

 

ARE YOU BRITISH?                                   COME RIGHT IN


 

ARE YOU HUNGARIAN?                           WE WILL GIVE YOU A DICTATION

                                                                       TEST IN FINNISH.

 

ARE YOU ITALIAN?                                    YOU CAN COME IN IF YOUR SKIN IS

                                                                        NOT TOO DARK

 

ARE YOU GREEK?                                     ONE OF YOUR CHILDREN HAS

                                                                        ASIAN-LOOKING EYES.  YOU ARE

                                                                        NOT ALLOWED IN.

 

ARE YOU CHINESE?                                  YOU CAN COME ONLY IF YOU ARE

                                                                        REPLACING ANOTHER CHINESE

                                                                        AND YOU HAVE TO WAIT 15 YEARS

                                                                        TO BECOME A CITIZEN.              

 

ARE YOU LATVIAN?                                 YOU CAN COME IN IF YOU

                                                                      “LOOK BRITISH”.


 

** 1964 – THE ASSIMILATION SECTION OF THE IMMIGRATION DEPARTMENT BECAME THE INTEGRATION SECTION.  THIS RECOGNISED THAT MIGRANTS COULD KEEP THEIR OWN CULTURE.


**  UP UNTIL 1964 AUSTRALIA EXPECTED MIGRANTS TO ASSIMILATE.  THIS MEANT THAT THEY HAD TO GIVE UP THEIR CULTURE AND TAKE UP COMPLETELY AUSTRALIAN BELIEFS AND WAYS OF LIFE.


**  UP TO A QUARTER OF ALL MIGRANTS HAD LEFT AUSTRALIA BY THE 1960s BECAUSE THEY DID NOT WANT TO GIVE UP THEIR CULTURE.



 

 

THE MIGRANT COMES TO AUSTRALIA

 

The lands of United Kingdom became known as, 'THE BRITISH EMPIRE ON WHICH THE SUN NEVER SETS.'


At school, we learned that the Empire areas on the map were coloured pink – the British Empire embraced one quarter of the earth’s land surface.

Many of us were born into this Commonwealth but our migrants are people who came to join our Commonwealth.  We did not choose them – they chose us!

In 1900 the Commonwealth of Australia Constitution Act was passed.  There have been 18 alterations to the constitution since then and two stand out:


Nationality and Citizens Act of 1948, which was the birth of the AUSTRALIAN CITIZEN, and

The Migration Act of 1958 of which there were 507 provisions.

 

 


THE ACTS OF A NEW NATION

 

In 1900 the Commonwealth of Australia Constitution Act was passed.  There have been 18 alterations to the constitution since then and two of them stand out:

Nationality and Citizens Act of 1948, which was the birth of the AUSTRALIAN CITIZEN, and

The Migration Act of 1958 of which there were 507 provisions.


The Australian Constitution Act of 1900 adopted a previous draft for naturalisation and the Commonwealth passed the Naturalisation Act in 1903.  However, it excluded aboriginal people as well as people from Asian countries from recognition.  The Commonwealth Nationality Act in 1920 consolidated decisions and  by embedding the concept it strikingly avoided the issues of the standing of Indigenous Australians. This Act introduced the term ‘alien’ to refer to those outside the group of naturalised and natural-born citizens.

The Australian Citizen Act 1948 did not discriminate against Indigenous people and they finally won the right to vote in Federal elections in 1962.  Amendments to the Nationality and Citizenship Act were made in 1955, 1969, 1973, 1984, 1986 and 1993.  The concept of ‘British subject’ was removed by the 1973 amendment (the Australian Citizenship Act).  (http://www.foundingdoc.gov.au location and copyright, National Archives of Australia).



 

WHAT IS A MIGRANT?


What is a migrant?


A migrant is a person/people who looks/look for a new home and wishes to settle in a country other than their place of birth.

Gondwanaland (Australia) was a huge southern continent to which the present island of Tasmania was joined.  The first MIGRANTS came about 30,000 years ago and are known as the indigenous peoples of Australia. 

When the tiny island of Tasmania separated from the rest of the continent, the residents were stranded from the rest of the country.  These people are considered to be quite different from their relatives on the mainland and continued to live as one people.

Abel Tasman was the first European to discover Tasmania.  He set off in 1642 with his two ships Heemskirk and Zeehaen.  He sailed in bad weather down the west coast around to Adventure Bay on the east coast. 

It was more than one hundred years later that Captain Cook in 1770 landed in Botany Bay, now NSW.  His ships Resolution and Discovery sailed on his third voyage when he anchored in Adventure Bay, Tasmania. 

Since then, millions of other arrivals from other countries have come to call Australia their home.

 



THE NEW CITIZENS

 

The post-war immigration program directly led to the abolition of White Australia and the creation of a multi-racial society.  Calwell, shortly after becoming Minister for Immigration in late 1945 told the House of Representatives, ‘We are but seven million people and we hold three million square miles of the earth’s surface.  A third world war is not impossible.  We may have only the next 25 years in which to make the best possible use of our second chance to survive.  Our first requirement is additional population.  We need it for reasons of defence and for fullest expansion of our economy.’

(G Sheridan, WW11 60th Ann. Series – The Australian)


Australia has had three types of migration:  assisted immigration, refugees and displaced persons.

Sponsored refugees – The IRO (International Refugee Organisation) was responsible for resettling approximately 11,000,000 survivors of Nazi slave labour and concentration camps.  By 1949 the IRO had 19 ships on the Naples-Australia run.  In that year 75,486 DPs arrived in Australia.

The free assisted passages scheme negotiated with the British Government began on 31 March 1947 and 23,314 British migrants paid a fare of ten pounds.  They were obliged to repay their passage costs if they returned within two years.  From this time they were affectionately known as ‘Ten Pound Poms’.  (James Jupp The Australian People – an encyclopaedia of the nation, its people and its origins. Cambridge Uni Press 2001)


TODAY –


People can seek entry to Australia either through the Migration Programme (for skilled and family migrants) or the Humanitarian Programme (for refugees and others in humanitarian need).

The Refugee Program is for people subject to persecution in their home country and in need of resettlement. The majority of refugees that come to Australia are educated middle class people.

In 2004 worldwide there were 19.2 million POC (persons of concern) refugees.  In 2004-2005 there were 13,008 humanitarian visas granted by Australia.  In the decade before the war immigration had averaged a little over 3,000 a year.  Now, sixty years later, Australia's population is nearly three times larger than it was then, with about 20 million. 


The Australian Government’s Refugee and Special Humanitarian Program currently accepts 13,000 refugees each year.  In 2006-2007 the five top groups of refugees came from Sudan, Iraq, Afghanistan, Burma and Central and West Africa.  The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) refers most applicants under this category for resettlement.

There were approximately 1500 refugees settled in Tasmania during 2007.  They settled under the IHSS (Integrated Humanitarian Settlement Strategy) programme for six months through DIAC (Department of Immigration and Citizenship). 

**  Source - The Refugee Council of Australia (http://www.refugeecouncil.org.au)