Migrant selection documents held in Perth – Fact sheet 185
Post-World War II migration policies
Following the end of World War II, Australia took advantage of the instability and insecurity in Europe and parts of Asia, to encourage refugees and displaced persons to migrate to Australia. This led the Australian Government to launch an immigration program designed to increase the population by one percent each year through immigration. Believing it was possible to combine large-scale immigration with full employment, the government funded a program that included assisted passages, and special hostel and other accommodation for sponsored migrants.
Under the policy announced by Immigration Minister Arthur Calwell in 1947, the target population growth by net migration was set at 70,000 per year, mainly from the United Kingdom and Europe and with two thirds being assisted migrants. By the early 1950s this had peaked at 150,000 a year. The migrant intake remained high for much of the ensuing decade, peaking again in the late 1960s at 130,000 arrivals. Most migrants were of British, Dutch, German, Italian, Greek, Polish or Yugoslav descent.
During this period a number of schemes targeting child migrants from England and Malta were also approved. Between 1947 and 1953 over 3200 unaccompanied children were received into Australia. The children were placed in homes run by religious institutions and welfare bodies such as the Christian Brothers, Barnardos and the Fairbridge movement.
Contents of migrant selection documents
The Department of Immigration was responsible for approving the entry of individuals and recording their arrival in Australia.
Migrant selection documents, which include applications for assisted passage and medical reports, were completed by the applicant and returned to the Chief Migration Officer in the capital city of the country in which the applicant was living. These documents were then forwarded to the state office of the Department of Immigration in the Australian state which the migrant intended to settle.
Migrant selection documents contain personal information including name, nationality, date and place of birth, names of spouse and details of children (where applicable), and employment details. Other types of documents that can be found include medical reports, travel documents, and passport-sized photographs of the applicant(s).
Generally, migrant selection documents are held in the National Archives office corresponding to the state in Australia the person first arrived. The table below lists the records held in the Perth Office.