Migrant selection documents held in Adelaide – Fact sheet 223
Postwar migration policies
Following World War II, Australia took advantage of the instability and insecurity in Europe, to encourage refugees and displaced persons to migrate to Australia. Using the catchcry of ‘populate or perish’, the Australian Government launched an immigration program in 1947. It was designed to increase the population by one per cent each year through migration from the United Kingdom and Europe.
Applicants were attracted by offers of assisted passage and accommodation for sponsored migrants. Between 1947 and 1983, nearly 3 million people – including 260,000 refugees and displaced persons – migrated to Australia. Over one third were from the United Kingdom.
The Department of Immigration was responsible for approving the entry of individuals and recording their arrival. Prospective applicants applied for assisted passage (producing what are known as migrant selection documents) and completed medical examination forms. They lodged their applications with the Chief Migration Officer in the capital city of their country of residence. Documents for migrants destined for the state of South Australia were then forwarded to the Adelaide office of the Department of Immigration.
Contents of migrant selection documents
Personal information in migrant selection documents usually consists of the migrants name, nationality, date and place of birth, spouse and children, and employment details. Many include passport-sized photographs. On some documents, names of next-of-kin or parents are included. Other information available in migrant selection documents concerns travel and accommodation arrangements and medical reports.
Migrant selection documents are arranged by the date of arrival and by the name of the ship or aircraft flight number.