1940s

After the war: populate or perish

Cartoon by Oslo Davis Cartoon by Oslo Davis
Source: Museum Victoria
 

Australia's sense of vulnerability during World War Two leads to calls for Australia to 'populate or perish.'

Nationals of 'enemy' countries such as Italy and Germany are sent to internment camps.

In 1945, the first Commonwealth Immigration Department is established, with Arthur Calwell as its first minister.

'White Australia' remains the cornerstone of immigration policy.

Schemes are re-established to attract immigrants from post-war Britain.

Thousands of displaced persons from war-torn Europe start arriving in 1947.

Bonegilla Reception and Training Centre opens in northern Victoria in 1947.

In 1949 the Commonwealth Nationality and Citizenship Act comes into effect, so that Australians are no longer British subjects.

Work begins on the Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Scheme, using large numbers of migrant labour.

Aus Pop (1947): 7,579,358
Vic Pop (1947): 2,054,701

Figures taken from Colonial and Commonwealth censuses and exclude Aborigines until 1971.
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Related collection items

Explore items from our collection

  • Memorandum - Dunera Statement, circa 1940
  • Application for Registration - Commonwealth of Australia, Issued to Mr Ah Him, 28 Sep 1940
  • Mandolin & Case - Giovanni Cera, Wood & Metal, 1946
  • Suit - Albanian, Three Piece, Navy Blue Wool, 1944
  • Boots - Ukrainian, Female, Black Leather, 1940s
  • Trunk - Wood, Stud Detail, Greece, circa 1940s
 

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