Question: What was the “Ten Pound Pom” scheme?
Answer: The “Ten Pound Pom” scheme is the colloquial name for an assisted migration scheme that operated in Australia after World War II. In spite of its name, this scheme was not limited to those from the United Kingdom but was open to citizens of all Commonwealth countries. (The word “Pom” meant English people, and was sometimes used in a derogatory manner.)
Adult migrants were charged ₤10 for their fare and children travelled for free. They were drawn by promises of employment and housing, a more relaxed lifestyle and a better climate.
“Ten Pound Poms” needed to be in sound health and under the age of 45 years. There were initially no skill restrictions, although under the “White Australia” policy those from mixed race backgrounds found it very difficult to take advantage of the scheme. At one point in 1947, more than 400,000 Brits were registered at Australia House in London for the scheme.
The aim of the scheme was to substantially increase Australia’s population in response to fears of a Japanese invasion, and a new awareness of Australia’s vulnerability and unrealised economic potential as an under-populated country. The “Populate or Perish” policy was developed by the Curtin Government before the end of World War II.
By late 1944 the Australian Government had begun negotiations with Britain for assisted immigration programs in the post-war years. Since all Australian political parties supported the “White Australia” policy they looked to Britain and northern European countries for immigrants in the belief that people from these countries would more easily assimilate with the Australian community. After the war, Australia gradually extended assisted passage schemes to immigrants from other countries such as the Netherlands and Italy to maintain high levels of immigration. It also welcomed refugees from war-torn Europe.
Sometimes the promises to immigrants were not realised. Many migrants faced lengthy stays in migrant hostels, failed to get ideal employment or missed their old communities. Around one quarter of the “Ten Pound Poms” left Australia within a few years of their arrival.
The year 1969 was the peak year for the scheme, with more than 80,000 people coming to Australia. In 1973, the cost of assisted passages was increased to ₤75 per family. This was still a very cheap fare, but numbers of assisted migrants from the United Kingdom dropped off significantly. Assisted passage schemes were gradually phased out in the 1980s, having profoundly influenced the ethnic and cultural makeup of the Australian population.
Unfortunately, this is outside our area of expertise. You will need to contact the Australian Government Department of Immigration and Citizenship to clarify your mother’s situation. You may like to visit their citizenship website as well.
The National Archives of Australia is the repository for all migrant records. While they only have a small percentage online you can still contact them directly to see if they can assist you with your search. Electroll rolls for each state are also a good way of finding someone living in a particular city or region.
We suggest that you contact the National Archives of Australia to request records of you and your parents’ arrival in Australia. The passenger arrivals inquiry request form should assist you in finding proof of arrival in Australia. This information should enable you to establish your residency / citizenship status with relevant authorities – on which matters please see / enquire further at the Department of Immigration.
The owners of your trunk were quite possibly Ten Pound Poms as the SS Himalaya was a P&O liner used in the scheme. You might like to look at our webpage Locating living people for ideas on how to find the original owners. Good luck with your task!
Australian citizenship was created through the Nationality and Citizenship Act 1948, and came into effect 26 January 1949, prior to 1949, Australians could only hold the status of British subjects. Unless you applied for Australian Citizenship you are still a British subject. If you are unsure of what documentation was filled out on your behalf as a child you can obtain records from the National Archives of Australia. You may also be interested in reading the following history of Australian Citizenship. If you wish to apply for citizenship you will need to contact the Department of Immigration.
Twentieth century immigration records, including information and documentation relating to the 10 Pound Pom Scheme, are held by the National Archives of Australia (NAA). You can search for such documents using the NAA's online RecordSearch tool and request copies of certain items. You can also contact the National Archives of Australia through their Making Australia Home project for further assistance in searching for your own and your family’s records.
The Brooklyn Hostel was at 431 Francis Street Brooklyn, whereas the Altona Hostel was off Kororoit Creek Road, Altona, where what is now known as 'Technopark' currently is. More information about the Brooklyn Hostel can be found by typing 'Brooklyn Migrant Hostel' in the search box on this Heritage Victoria webpage.
For more information on this subject, please visit our British subjects and Australian citizenship webpage. Though you will be best served by contacting the Australian Government Department of Immigration and Citizenship.
Keith's record will be with the NAA. The reason you can't find them is that only about 20% of records have been put online. You will need to contact the NAA directly to ask them to locate the record. Please be aware that there will be a cost involved for this service.
Unfortunately the museum cannot suggest anything to fast track your citizen application. Here a link to the Citizenship wizard from the Department of Immigration and Citizenship which might assist you with your application.
There are many excellent resources that may help in your research. To the right of this article there is a list of links that should be useful. Our Origins website contains lots of statistical information about migration including an overview of English migration to Victoria. Another great resource is the book Ten Pound Poms: Australia’s Invisible Migrants by Hammerton & Thomson which you can view at the Immigration Museum’s Discovery Centre or at your local library. Also, search on Trove for a variety of resources referring to the Ten Pound Poms. Good luck with your essay!
Hi Ian,You can attempt to locate your friends by either searching the White Pages or contacting the Australian Electoral Commision. Good luck!