A wave of postwar migrants

Black and white photo of first post war migrant shaking hands with Prime Minister Ben Chifley

First postwar migrants

NAA: A1200, L21159

By the end of World War II, hundreds of thousands of people in Europe were living in camps for displaced persons after being forced to flee from their homes. The Australian Government sent officers to select people from these camps to migrate to Australia to increase the number of workers available for defence and development. The slogan ‘populate or perish’ was used to promote this large intake of migrants to Australians.

Get thinking

  • In what ways did the war influence the Australian Government’s decision to increase its immigration program in 1947?
  • Why do you think the Australian Government changed its immigration policy to allow migrants from a wider range of countries in the postwar years?
  • What are some of the challenges the Australian Government might have faced at home by bringing migrants from a wider range of countries?

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