Monday, June 28, 2010

Ten Pound Poms

I was chatting with a friend on facebook the other day,she lives in America. I mentioned that we had a new Prime Minister and that she was a 10 pound pom. She had no idea what i was talking about so this posting is for her and anyone else who does not know the meaning of a 10 pound pom.

Created as part of the "Populate or Perish" policy, the scheme was designed to substantially increase the population of Australia and to supply workers for the country's booming industries. In return for subsidising the cost of travelling to Australia — adult migrants were charged only ten pound sterling for the fare (hence the name), and children were allowed to travel for free — the Government promised employment prospects, housing and a generally more optimistic lifestyle. However, on arrival, migrants were placed in basic hostels and the expected job opportunities were not always readily available.

Assisted migrants were generally obliged to remain in Australia for two years after arrival, or alternatively refund the cost of their assisted passage. If they chose to travel back to Britain, the cost of the journey was at least £120, a large sum in those days and one that most could not afford. It was also possible for many British persons to migrate to Australia on a non-assisted basis before the early 1970s, although most travelled as Ten Pounders. This was part of the wider White Australia Policy.

Prior to 1 December 1973, migrants to Australia from Commonwealth countries were eligible to apply for Australian citizenship after one year's residence in Australia. In 1973 the residence requirement was extended to three years, reduced to two years in November 1984. However, relatively few British migrants — compared to other postwar arrivals, such as Italians, Greeks and Turks — took up Australian citizenship. Consequently, many lost their Australian resident status later on, usually through leaving Australia.

Australia also operated schemes to assist selected migrants from other countries, notably Italy, Greece, West Germany and Turkey

One of the most famous Ten Pound Poms is current Prime Minister Julia Gillard who migrated with her family from Barry, Vale of Glamorgan, Wales in 1966, in the hope the warmer climate would help her fix a lung infection.

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