Getting In, Immigration Museum Exhibition, 2003-2015

Internal shots of the exhibition space

Image: Internal shots of the exhibition space

Source: Museum Victoria

Getting In focuses on the policies and processes of Australian immigration across time. It is an exhibition about selection and rejection, with content presented through text, statistics, graphics, objects and compelling interactives. Personal experiences and perspectives provide examples of particular policies. Debate and dissent about Australia's immigration policy have always been a part of the political landscape, and the exhibition brings out contrary opinions at various historical moments. It also explores the process of Australia's nation-building over time and how migrant selection has acted as a key component of the construction of a desired national identity. Objects include original immigration documents, promotional material, personal artefacts, customs items, iconographic medals, protest ephemera, all presented chronologically in four distinct time periods from the 1840s to the present day. The broad exhibition premise is that the bottom line of Australian immigration policy over the last 200 years has been how to 'get in'. People's experiences have varied dramatically, from being welcomed, invited, assisted, accepted, discouraged and refused. Basic questions are addressed - why have some people been allowed in and others not? What rules and regulations have been created over the years to determine a person's eligibility? How have these rules changed over time? How have these changing policies both reflected and shaped public opinion?

Central to the exhibition is an interactive theatre experience whereby visitors find themselves in the role of a government official charged with the responsibility of interviewing people applying to migrate to Australia, and discovering whether or not they 'get in'. They can select from nine applicants over three significant periods in the development of Australia's immigration policies. Visitors who have migrated themselves are able to relate to the anxiety, anticipation, excitement and tragedy of the applicants; others will gain a new understanding of what it must be like to have their lives hang in the balance and decisions taken out of their hands. In either case, the shape and development over time of Australia's immigration policies will become evident as visitors witness the questions, responses and outcomes of the interviews and read the secondary layer of policy 'fact files'.

Further Exhibition Content
Snapshot of Australian Immigration Policy
1840-1900: The end of convict transportation and the influx of free settlers sees British policy continue to govern Australia, allowing immigration from throughout the Empire and allied countries.
1901-1945: Australia's Immigration Restriction Act, commonly known as the 'White Australia policy', restricts immigration from non-British countries.
1946-1972: Immigration policy no longer mentions race. Although British immigrants are still preferred, continental Europeans are also admitted in a push for population growth.
1973-today: Multiculturalism results in a broadening of immigration policy. People from all countries may apply to immigrate. However, overall immigration levels are reduced.

Key Themes & Immigration Policy Categories explored in Getting In
Nation Building: The question of national identity has had a profound impact on Australia's immigration policies. The idea of Australia as a white, British nation saw policies such as the Immigration Restriction Act introduced and quotas on non-British migrants, right up until the 1970s. Populating this vast continent and building industry has also impacted Australia's immigration policies and selection.
: Active selection of Australian immigrants has been helped by the provision of assisted passage immigration schemes where the Government contributed to the cost of passage and sometimes settlement. The changing focus of this assistance reflects the changing international pressures and Australian values and identity.
Rejection: As well as actively seeking particular types of immigrants Australian immigration policies have also discouraged, banned and limited the numbers of some migrants. These include the well known Immigration Restriction Act and Dictation Test which restricted Asian immigration to Australia for 70 years, to today's NUMAS system which gives applicants points in a number of categories including education, employment and wealth to assess their suitability for migration to Australia.
Family Reunion: Throughout Australian immigration history family reunions have been a means of migrating to Australia. From the Nomination and Remittance Schemes of the 19th Century to the acceptance of war brides following World War II and the use of family reunion as a key post 1970s immigration criteria.
Work: The filling of jobs has been a principal motivation of the Australian government for encouraging, accepting and rejecting immigrants. Governments have selected migrants to fill particular workforce gaps, such as today's focus on skilled migrants, and rejected migrants based on their skills and employment.
Refuge: Australia has provided a refuge for people fleeing political, cultural, religious or racial discrimination since the 19th century. The attitude of the Australian public to refugees is often contested with the management of 'off-shore' and 'on-shore' applicants currently one of the most hotly debated issues in Australian political history.

Key Objects
- Caroline Chisholm's scrapbook, known as the emigrant's friend Caroline Chisholm devoted her life to improving immigrants' lives and the conditions in which they travelled. 
- 1853 cessation of convict transportation medal
-The Australian Emigrant's Manual, or a Guide to the Gold Colonies of New South Wales and Port Phillip, by John Dunmore Lang, London, 1852 
- Paisley shawl worn by Isabella MacDonald for her wedding to James Abel in Aberdeen Scotland, 1851 
- 2002 Anti Detention Protest Poster 
- Shoe made by Bulgarian migrant and shoe maker Stanio Fancoff 
- Porcelain jug produced as a souvenir of the centenary of white settlement of Australia and to commemorate the Melbourne Centennial Exhibition in 1888
White Australia sheet music by W.E. Naunton, 1910 
- Australia Today 1930 Magazine published by the United Commercial Travellers Association of Australia, 1929
- Snowy Mountains Scheme KWPR World Tunnel Record Holder Medal
- Pair of blue glass vases recovered from the Loch Ard wreck
Commemorative plate produced for Queen Victoria Golden Jubilee in 1887

Objects featured in our long term exhibitions are changed over regularly both for preservation reasons and also to maintain a diverse representation of stories, communities and cultures. Both current and past Museum Victoria objects displayed in this exhibition are listed below.

Items per page: 10 50 (showing 1 - 10) 98 items

  • Badge - No Room for Racism, circa 1980s-1990s Object

    Badge - No Room for Racism, circa 1980s-1990s

    Round green badge with the slogan 'No Room for Racism', circa 1980s-1990s. Badges like these are commonly distributed and worn by protestors who take part marches, blockades and other p ...

    Images: 1
  • Marbles & Bag - Multicoloured, circa 1950 Object

    Marbles & Bag - Multicoloured, circa 1950

    Multicoloured marbles inside a blue woolen bag with red checkered drawstring. They were used by Erica Nowell in 1950. Marbles is an ancient game. Stone marbles have been found which dat ...

    Images: 1
  • Plate - Queen Victoria Golden Jubilee, Silber Fleming Ltd, 1887 Object

    Plate - Queen Victoria Golden Jubilee, Silber Fleming Ltd, 1887

    Commemorative eight-sided plate made by Silber Fleming Ltd, London to to commemorate the fifty years' reign of Queen Victoria in 1887. This plate celebrates the strength and confidence ...

    Images: 1
  • Flag - Empire Day Object

    Flag - Empire Day

    Empire Day Flag used in Melbourne, Victoria. Also known as Flag Day, Empire Day was celebrated in March and saw the buildings and streets decorated with flags. Empire Day was observed i ...

    Images: 1
  • Jug - 'Old England and the New', England, 1888 Object

    Jug - 'Old England and the New', England, 1888

    Alternative Name(s): Jug 1888 Centenary Exhibition Porcelain souvenir jug, made in England, circa 1888. This jug was produced as a souvenir of the centenary of white settlement of Aust ...

    Images: 1
  • Balance - Assay, W & T Avery, circa 1850s Object

    Balance - Assay, W & T Avery, circa 1850s

    Assay balance and four standard weights in a wooden box manufactured by W & T Avery, England, circa 1850s. An Assay balance is a very sensitive balance used in the assaying of gold, sil ...

    Images: 1
  • Panning Dish - Gold, James McEwan & Co, circa 1961 Object

    Panning Dish - Gold, James McEwan & Co, circa 1961

    15 inch metal gold panning dish, purchased from James McEwan & Co in 1961. This pan is typical of style of gold pans used during the Victorian gold rushes of the 1850s. Gold panning is ...

    Images: 1
  • Flag - Australian, Royal Visit Souvenir, 1954 Object

    Flag - Australian, Royal Visit Souvenir, 1954

    Small Australian souvenir flag, made in England, circa 1954. It was purchased at the time of Queen Elizabeth's visit to Victoria in 1954.

    Images: 1
  • Flag - Empire Day, circa 1936 Object

    Flag - Empire Day, circa 1936

    Empire Day Flap used in Melbourne, Victoria, circa 1936 Empire Day was first introduced in 1905 to promote loyalty among the dominion countries of the British Empire. Celebrated on 24 ...

    Images: 1
  • No Image Available Object

    Doll - Chinese, circa 1900s-1920s

    Small Chinese doll dressed in red tunic and green trousers, probably made circa 1900s-1920s.

    Images: 0
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