1970s–2000s: A Changing Journey

Somalian school children, 1992
Somalian school children, Flemington, 1992.
Source: Courtesy of Adbdiraham Jama Geyre

By the 1970s, the wave of post-war migration by ocean liner to Australia was largely over. The advent of container ships meant that migrant ships could no longer rely on cargo to finance their return voyages, and more people were coming by plane. In 1977, the Australis became the last ship to carry assisted passage immigrants to Australia. Henceforth, all off-shore migrants coming to Australia travelled by air.

Immigration to Australia fell dramatically during the early 1970s. It reached a post war low in 1975, before recovering in the early 1980s.

Those making the journey to Australia today by plane have a very different migration experience. Air travel has made the world a much smaller place and the journey to a new home is relatively quick. Reduced travel time and much improved communications make it easier for migrants to keep in touch with friends and family back home, or to return on a visit to the 'old country'.

Since the 1970s, Australia has welcomed migrants from many countries including Vietnam, Turkey, Lebanon, Britain, China, India, New Zealand, South Africa, Chile, Poland, East Timor, South East Asia and the Horn of Africa—Eritrea, Somalia and Ethiopia. Some immigrants, escaping war and conflict in various parts of the world, have arrived in small and often unseaworthy boats.

The migration programs of the 1970s–2000s have given Australia a very multicultural population. Victoria is now home to people from over 233 different countries.


Read 'Key Facts in Immigration' on the website of the Australian Department of Immigration and Citizenship:

In the past 10 years, where have most immigrants to Australia come from?

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