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.
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!
We love receiving comments, but can’t always respond.
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.
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!
Hello Donna, 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. However only about 25% of their entire collection is online as of yet. If you cannot find your name You will need to contact them to obtain your records through their Making Australia Home program.
This question was answered above on the 6th December 2011, the 7th July 2010 and the 3rd March 2010. Hope this helps!
Hi Gay, the answer to your question can be found in comment that was published on the 03 Sep 2010 at 14:38, which states that "residency and citizenship laws have changed several times since 1949, when the Nationality and Citizenship Act came into effect. Long-term residency in Australia does not necessarily mean that a person is an Australian citizen. You'll find more information at this government-run citizenship website, or by contacting the Department of Immigration and Citizenship, we hope this assists.
To view passenger lists you will need to visit the Victorian Archives Centre in North Melbourne. If you are not in Melbourne, you can search for the office in your state here
Potentially yes, but to be sure, you will need to contact the National Archives of Australia for official records.
Hi Susan,You can attempt to locate your friend by either searching the White Pages or contacting the Australian Electoral Commision. Good luck!
There are many fantastic resources that you can look at for your assignment. Firstly, we have a list of links to the right of this article that will assist you.Another great place to start would be to go to your local library or visit the Discovery Centre at the Immigration Museum to view the book Ten Pound Poms: Australia’s Invisible Migrants by Hammerton & Thomson. A quick search on Trove will also bring up a variety of resources referring to the ten pound poms.
Good luck with your assignment!
The only thing we can suggest is that you contact the National Archives of Australia or the Department of Immigration and Citizenship with your documentation to see if they are able to sort it out.
The 10 pound scheme didn’t differentiate between migrants from England and Ireland. Assistance could involve the targeting of particular skilled migrants to meet particular skills shortages identified by the Dept of Labour and National Service. Such workers would be provided with hostel or employer-supplied accommodation. Others could be personally nominated by Australian citizens offering to provide accommodation and they didn’t have to meet the skills criterion (although most were skilled or semi-skilled workers anyway). Also schemes such as the big Brother Movement continued into the 1960s involving sponsored migration. But sponsorship by employer, citizen or organisation wasn’t an automatic requirement. British/Irish migration was virtually unrestricted and most of those were assisted (as in passage subsidised, accommodation available).
Hi Katherine, thanks for the interesting questions. Although we have not been able to find a definitive answer, we have sent some information to your email.
Hi Les, we had a search for this and couldn't come up with much, so we contacted the helpful librarians at State Library of Victoria via their live chat service (what a useful resource!). They identified three potential titles for you:
1. Horizons ahead. (Text in English, German, Dutch, Italian and Polish.) September 1963-1969.2. New settler, incorporating The new settler in WA vol.1 no.9, Feb 1951-vol.11, no.120, May 1960. (Earlier title The new settler in Western Australia, vol.1 no.1, June 1950-vol.1 no.8, Jan 1951).3. Migrants' magazine and Aussiana news, vol.1 1950-vol.2 1951
All these publications are held by the State Library of WA and the National Library of Australia, except for the third, which is only held by the State Library of WA. Unfortunately SLV do not have any holdings, so it's not possible to check these locally.
Hi Roger, there is a fantastic website with images and information about the various migrant hostels and camps set up in Australia. You can search for images and also add details to various forums http://www.migrantweb.com/
Hi Bruce, the National Archives of Australia holds the passenger lists for immigrant ships. You can contact them to obtain these. You might then be able to track those friends through census records or the phone book.
Maree, residency and citizenship laws have changed several times since 1949, when the Nationality and Citizenship Act came into effect. Long-term residency in Australia does not necessarily mean that a person is an Australian citizen. You'll find more information at this government-run citizenship website, or by contacting the Department of Immigration and Citizenship.
Hi Hollie, an interesting question! The initial theory of the Ten Pound Pom scheme was to dramatically increase the Australian population amid fears of a Japanese invasion and the Curtin Government's policy of 'populate or perish' was developed. Assisted Passage schemes, such as the 'Ten Pound Poms' were phased out in the 1980's, but who knows what may happen in the future!
Hi there, Anonymous. The best source of information about the experience of these migrants onboard their ships is Chapter 3 of Ten Pound Poms: Australia's invisible migrants by Hammerton and Thomson. This book is available from many libraries as well as the Discovery Centre at the Immigration Museum. If you have difficult accessing a copy of this book chapter, contact us via the Ask the Experts page.
Tom, our collection of photographs does not generally extend to school photographs. For names of those who attended a certain school, you may try contacting the school directly, or else search the web for sites designed to put old friends in contact with each other.
Try the National Archives first, Angela, but bear in mind that they only hold official government records, and that the grazier will only be mentioned in those records if the sponsorship program was associated with the government. Hope this helps!
Janet, it can be very difficult to trace living people. In Australia, records are generally only made when people interact with the government. Other than that, you might try searching Australian telephone directories like the White Pages. Their website has a search tool that can provide contact details of many people living in Australia. For evidence of births, deaths and marriages, you will need to contact the relevant registry in an Australia state. Good luck with your research.
Louise, all government documents connected to immigration have been managed by the National Archives of Australia since 1923. You can use their website to conduct research with these documents, including requesting copies.
Amanda, there were a number of immigration sponsorship programs operating at this period, including some by private companies. Kalgoorlie Lake View Pty Ltd may have sponsored your family's migration. For confirmation of this, you will need to locate the company's own records. If your migration was sponsored by a private company, you would not be considered "ten pound poms," as such.
Migrant hostels are notorious for being scantily documented at best, Andrew, and our own expertise is with Victorian examples. Our online searching only confirmed that the "long-demolished" Elder Park hostel had fibro buildings! Might the State Library of South Australia be of assistance? This book, say.
Hi Michael – One of the most useful resources to locate living people are the electoral rolls which list all the names and addresses of registered voters within Australia. Another avenue to explore would be to also check the white pages online by conducting a surname search: Good luck with your search!
Hi Jennifer - 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 NAA directly for further assistance in searching for your own and your family’s records.
Hi Jean. It's likely that "all the paperwork" that your father completed has been kept by the National Archives of Australia. You can search for such documents using their RecordSearch tool, and request copies of certain items. Perhaps these documents will give further information about the scheme?
Rebecca - information about migrant hostels can be difficult to come by. Nevertheless, the Encyclopedia of Melbourne has an article entitled "Migrant Hostels"; there is also an online forum for those wishing to discuss the topic in more detail. Records of the Broadmeadows Migrant Hostel itself are kept by the National Archives of Australia, with address books listed at Series Number B6518 and arrivals and departures books at B6517. You can find indexes that relate to these records via the RecordSearch tool at the NAA website. Good luck!
Hi again Hannah - we're glad to hear that your research is going well. Museum Victoria's Origins website contains lots of statistical information about migration including an overview of English migration to Victoria. Another helpful for resource for immigration statistics is the Australian Government's Department of Immigration and Citizenship's website. Good luck with your research!
Australia's pre-decimal coins and banknotes underwent many changes over the years before they were replaced in 1966. See Museum Victoria's Rare Coins infosheet for images and information about Australia's pre-decimal coins. For pre-decimal banknotes have a look at the Reserve Bank of Australia's Museum of Australian Currency Notes.
Thanks for your question, Hannah. So many people migrated to Australia under the Ten Pound Pom scheme that the group is not often considered as a category, as such, although we'd be very interested in any list of famous ones that you might unearth or create! As a starting point for your project, try this profile of Noni Hazlehurst's family available via the NAA website.
Hello, Sandra. According to the National Archives of Australia, "prior to 26 January 1949, the process of naturalisation conferred British nationality on applicants....As a consequence there are no naturalisation records for British migrants before 1949." Hope this helps! More info here.
Thanks for your comment, Judith. The National Archives of Australia do have arrival and departure records from Victorian migrant hostels, including Altona - might these be useful for your reunion plans? As for images, there are some NAA photographs of the hostel viewable via Picture Australia. Finally, the Immigration Discovery Centre has its own folder of information about Victorian migrant hostels, sourced mainly from the web. Good luck with your research!
Hi Linda, thankyou for your comment. We have recently published a 'Your Question' article referring to a number of other Australian institutions that offer a similar service to the Tribute Garden at the Immigration Museum. I hope this is what you're after!
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