|Description of this FunctionDescription of this Function|
Administration of assisted British migration and nomination schemes, including associated reception, settlement and welfare services, was the States primary involvement in immigration in the twentieth century. This involvement ceased in 1983 when responsibility was taken over by the Commonwealth.
At Federation, responsibility for alien (non-British) immigration and naturalisation formally passed to the Commonwealth (VRG 87) although it appears that the State retained operational responsibility until 1904.
The Commonwealth Government also assumed responsibility for unassisted British immigration except for a brief period from 1975 to 1983. For these schemes, the Commonwealth Government also undertook overseas promotion and selection as well as reception, settlement, employment and welfare services.
The State monitored migrant arrivals and departures until 1923 when this responsibility also passed to the Commonwealth (VRG 87).
Assisted British Immigration and Associated Services 1906-1930
Assisted immigration schemes flourished between 1906 and 1930. From 1906 to 1923 administration of assisted British immigration and nomination schemes for Victoria, including overseas promotion of the State and supervision of the selection of migrants, was largely a State responsibility. From 1923 to 1930 the function involved undertaking the State's obligations under a number of joint Imperial, Commonwealth and State government agreements.
When assisted immigration from Britain resumed in 1906 it was associated with closer settlement and thus was the responsibility of the Commissioner of Crown Lands and Survey (VRG 18) under the Closer Settlement Act 1906 (No.2067). By 1912 an Immigration and Labour Bureau had been established to administer the British nomination scheme, to provide reception, initial settlement and employment services and to co-ordinate overseas promotion and emigration assistance. From 1918 to 1923 responsibility for these functions lay with the Minister for Labour (VRG 42).
Under the provisions of the British Empire Settlement Act 1922 a number of agreements were made between the Imperial, Commonwealth and State Governments to encourage British residents to migrate to Australia for the purpose of land settlement and to augment the labour force. Overseas promotion and supervision of selection for these schemes became a Commonwealth responsibility. In Victoria a Minister for Immigration (VRG 44) was appointed in 1923 to be responsible for the State's obligations under the Act and associated schemes, including administration in Victoria of the nomination scheme, determination of numbers and categories of migrants and associated reception, settlement, employment and welfare services. Operational responsibility was exercised by the Department of Crown Lands and Survey (VA 538) from 1923 to 1927 and the Public Works Department (VA 669) from 1927 to 1930.
After 1930 assisted immigration and nomination schemes were suspended due to economic depression and World War II although the position of Minister for Immigration continued until 1943.
Post World War II Immigration 1947-1983
From 1947 to 1983 substantial numbers of migrants were brought to Victoria under the provisions of various immigration schemes and agreements, including the United Kingdom Free and Assisted Passenger Agreements 1946, Child Migration Scheme from 1947, Empire and Allied Ex-Servicemen's Scheme from 1947, a 1947 agreement between the Commonwealth Government and the International Refugee Organisation facilitating the settlement of European displaced persons and later agreements between the Commonwealth and various European countries.
Under these agreements, primary responsibility for immigration was exercised by the Commonwealth. Following the Premiers Conference of 1946, the State accepted responsibility for:
processing nominations (later known as sponsorships) of British migrants made by residents of Victoria (personal nominations) for family reunions
processing nominations (later known as sponsorships) of British migrants made by industry and commerce (employer nominations) and the Victorian Government (State nominations) designed to promote recruitment of particular categories of workers
determination of numbers and categories of British migrants to be assisted under joint schemes with the Commonwealth and Imperial governments
providing post-arrival services to nominated British migrants including their reception, transit accommodation, travel and aftercare (the care of migrants who had been sponsored by residents of the State was the responsibility of those who had nominated them)
reception, settlement and welfare services for non-assisted British and non-British immigrants upon request of the Commonwealth Government
financial assistance to voluntary organizations and community groups providing accommodation and other assistance to migrants (including the maintenance of children brought out under the Child Migration Scheme)
assisting in investigation of Community Refugee Settlement nominations.
When assisted immigration from Britain resumed in 1947 it was the responsibility of the Chief Secretary (VRG 26), who from 1950 was also appointed Minister for Immigration (VRG 90). Between 1947 and 1950 the Chief Secretary was responsible for ensuring that the State's obligations under these agreements were met. Under the Minister for Immigration, a branch of the Chief Secretary's Department (VA 475), known as the State Immigration Office, had operational responsibility in this area until the establishment of the Immigration Division of the Department of State Development and Decentralisation (VA 552) in 1971.
In February 1977 the Ministry of Immigration and Ethnic Affairs (VA 1042) assumed the responsibilities of the Immigration Division. Although responsible to the Minister of Immigration and Ethnic Affairs (VRG 68), the Ministry was located within the Department of State Development and Decentralisation (VA 552) between 1977 and 1978, and within the Department of State Development, Decentralisation and Tourism (VA 2881) from 1978 until 1981. In 1981 the Ministry gained full departmental independence.
Unassisted British Immigration 1975-1983
The responsibilities of the State were expanded in June 1975, following a Ministers Conference at which it was agreed that the States would assume responsibility for the processing of applications lodged by British persons seeking unassisted entry into Australia in addition to the existing responsibility for all nominees seeking assisted passages from the United Kingdom.
Transfer of remaining immigration functions to the Commonwealth 1983
The end of the State's role in immigration matters came in early 1983, when the Commonwealth took over the administration of both assisted and unassisted British sponsorship schemes and associated services. This change had been anticipated by the appointment at the end of 1982 of a Minister for Ethnic Affairs (VRG 76) whose primary responsibilities related to providing services to ethnic communities, promoting good community relations and multiculturalism and the prevention of racial discrimination.