|Description of this AgencyDescription of this Agency|
Formation of Ministry of Immigration and Ethnic Affairs
The Ministry of Immigration and Ethnic Affairs was established under the provisions of the Ministry of Immigration and Ethnic Affairs Act 1976 (No.8963) proclaimed in the Government Gazette on 9 February 1977. The Ministry assumed responsibility for the immigration function previously undertaken by the Immigration Division of the Department of State Development and Decentralization (VA 552) as well as responsibility for an embryonic ethnic affairs function from the Department of the Premier (VA 2717).
Immigration (twentieth century)
This function included:
administration of assisted immigration from the United Kingdom, including
personal sponsorship (family reunions)
employer sponsorship (industry and commerce)
state sponsorship (government employees)
administration of general (unassisted) immigration from the United
Kingdom (prior to 1975 this was a Commonwealth responsibility)
publicity of Victoria through the office of the Agent-General in London
reception, transportation, accommodation and employment of State
The British immigration schemes were a joint Commonwealth-State responsibility.
The administration of non-British immigration, including reception and settlement services, was the responsibilty of the Commonwealth Government.
Immigration Function passed to Commonwealth 1983
The Ministry's responsibility for immigration from the United Kingdom (assisted and unassisted) was transferred to the Commonwealth in 1983.
Formation of Ethnic Affairs Commission and Change of Title of Ministry
The Ethnic Affairs Commission (VA 1029) was established on 9 November 1982 by the Ethnic Affairs Commission Act 1982 (No.9789). This Act repealed the Ministry of Immigration and Ethnic Affairs Act 1976 (No.8963) although the Ministry of Immigration and Ethnic Affairs effectively continued through to 16 February 1983 when the title of the Ministry was changed to Ministry of Ethnic Affairs. The Chairman of the Ethnic Affairs Commission became the Permanent Head of the Ministry on 15 March 1983.
The exact nature of the relationship between the Commission and the Ministry is subject to further research. The Commission comprised three full-time members (the Chairman and two deputies) and ten part-time members, none of whom could be subject to the Public Service Act 1974 (No.8656) in their capacity as Commission members. The Act, however, made provision for public servants to be appointed for "the proper functioning of the Commission". It is therefore evident that the Ministry of Ethnic Affairs carried out many of the functions of the Commission as determined by the 1982 Act. It is assumed that the Ministry maintained any records created by the Commission.
The function of ethnic affairs, as expressed in the 1976 Act, was:
to promote settlement of migrants in the community
to encourage ethnic groups to fully express their identity
to develop community awareness of ethnic cultures
to facilitate the building of a socially cohesive society
to encourage migrants to fully participate in the community
to prevent or remove racial discrimination
to promote the welfare of migrants.
Activities undertaken as part of this function included:
provision of financial assistance for projects which furthered the concept of a cohesive but culturally diverse community (included funding of festivals, furnishing community centres, establishment of resource centres)
seminars and talks relevant to ethnic communities
community education programs to improve understanding and interaction among ethnic groups
investigation of the needs of ethnic communities and research into ways to meet these needs on the best cost/benefit basis (this was the function of the Migrant Advisory Bureau which was transferred from the Department of the Premier), including:
publication of the resource directory 'Migrants' Melbourne' in several languages
provision of information to the public
advice, investigation, conciliation and arbitration in certain migrant cases (including cases such as racial discrimination, legal problems, workers compensation, neighbourhood problems, housing, recognition of overseas qualifications etc.)
community liaison between ethnic groups and government agencies
improving communication and understanding between the police and ethnic groups
responsibility for the Victoria Welcome Group
translation services to Government departments and instrumentalities (from 1979)
interpreting services for organisations and individuals (from c1982: the Interpreting Services Bureau had operated within the Department of the Premier from 1975)
Cross Cultural Awareness Programs for persons working with migrant
student exchange schemes
monitoring government policies/reviews to identify discrimination against migrants
relevant statistical research.
As part of the machinery of government changes announced by the Premier in January 1991 the "policy development and administrative responsibilities" of the Ethnic Affairs Commission were placed with the Office of Ethnic Affairs, established as an associated administrative unit of the Ministry of Ethnic, Municipal and Community Affairs (MEMCA) (VA 3015). As it is assumed that the Ministry of Ethnic Affairs had undertaken the "policy development and administrative responsibilities" of the Commission, the transfer of the function effectively occured from the Ministry to the Office of Ethnic Affairs within MEMCA.
From 1977 to 1978 the Ministry was administratively located within the Department of State Development and Decentralization (VA 552) and from 1978 to 1981 in the Department of State Development, Decentralisation and Tourism (VA 2881), although it was responsible to the Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs throughout this time. From 1 July 1981 the Ministry had full departmental independence.
Location of Records
See List of Holdings 2nd edition 1985, sections 3.10.2 (immigration records of VA 1042 Ministry of Immigration and Ethnic Affairs) and 3.13.4 (VA 552 Department of State Development, Decentralisation and Tourism records). Relevant Commonwealth records are held by Australian Archives.