Group VRG 68
Immigration and Ethnic Affairs
About this Group Related Agencies Related Functions
Date Range: 1976 - 1982
 
Description of this GroupDescription of this Group
Appointment of Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs 1976

In 1976 a Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs was appointed and assumed responsibility for the immigration function from the Minister of Immigration (VRG 90), as well as the embryonic ethnic affairs function from the Premier (VRG 50).

Immigration (twentieth century)

This broad 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
publicity of Victoria through the office of the Agent-General in London
reception, transportation, accommodation and employment of State
sponsored migrants.

The administration of non-British immigration, including reception and settlement services, was the responsibility of the Commonwealth Government (VRG 67).

Ethnic Affairs

Under the Premier (VRG 50) ethnic affairs began with the establishment of a Migrant Advisory Bureau, primarily to provide information to migrants about the activities of Government and to hear problems facing migrants, and an Interpreting Services Bureau to provide free interpreting services to migrants.

The Ministry of Immigration and Ethnic Affairs Act 1976 (No.8963) was the first legislation in an Australian State to give statutory recognition to a Ministry concerned with migrants and ethnic groups. The State had undertaken an immigration function (as above), while the Commonwealth Government had accepted prime responsibility for post-settlement services to migrants, particularly migrants of non-British background. At this time the Commonwealth Government was looking to the States to take new initiatives and responsibilities.

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)
Cross Cultural Awareness Programs for persons working with migrant
clients
community liaison between ethnic groups and government agencies
publication of the resource directory 'Migrants' Melbourne' in several languages
student exchange schemes
investigation of the needs of ethnic communities and research into ways to meet these needs
translation services to government departments and instrumentalities (from 1979)
seminars and talks relevant to ethnic communities
community education programs to improve understanding and interaction among ethnic groups
investigation, conciliation and arbitration of migrant cases (such as legal problems, workers compensation, neighbourhood problems, housing, recognition of overseas qualifications etc.)
monitoring government policies/reviews to identify discrimination against migrants
relevant statistical research.

Appointment of Minister of Ethnic Affairs

On 21 December 1982 a Minister of Ethnic Affairs (VRG 76) assumed responsibility for the immigration and ethnic affairs functions. The change in title of the Minister anticipated the phasing out of the State's role in immigration matters for which responsibility actually transferred to the Commonwealth (VRG 87) in January 1983.

OVERVIEW OF IMMIGRATION IN VICTORIA 1839 - 1983

Administration

Pre-Federation control and regulation of British and alien (non-British or foreign) immigration, administration of assisted immigration and nomination schemes, as well as associated reception, settlement and welfare services, were the responsibility of the Police Magistrate (VRG 7) and Superintendent of the Port Phillip District (VRG 11) and, after separation from New South Wales, of the Colonial Secretary (VRG 16) and later the Commissioner of Trade and Customs (VRG 22).

Shortly after Federation, the Commonwealth (VRG 87) assumed primary responsibility for the control and regulation of non-British immigration (both assisted and unassisted), unassisted British immigration (except for a brief period from 1975-1983), naturalisation and associated reception, settlement, employment and welfare services.

Responsibility for monitoring of immigrant arrivals, part of a wider role in monitoring passenger arrivals and departures by ship, passed from the State to the Commonwealth in 1923.

Administration of assisted British immigration, nomination and sponsorship schemes, which flourished in the periods 1906 to 1930 and from 1947, was a State responsibility until 1923, under the Commissioner of Crown Lands and Survey (VRG 18) between 1906 and 1918 and the Minister for Labour (VRG 42) from 1918 to 1923. Thereafter such schemes were jointly administered by the State and the Commonwealth. Responsibility for the State's obligations under these schemes rested in turn with the Minister for Immigration (VRG 44) between 1923 and 1930, the Chief Secretary (VRG 26) between 1947 and 1950, the Minister for Immigration (VRG 90) between 1950 and 1976, the Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs between 1976 and 1982 and the Minister for Ethnic Affairs between 1982 and 1983.In 1983 the Commonwealth assumed responsibility for the function in its entirety.

Pre-Federation Immigration

Administration of immigration to Victoria prior to 1900 was the responsibility of:

DATE GROUP/MINISTER RESPONSIBLE AGENCY

1839 VRG 7 Police Magistrate VA 472 Police Magistrate
Port Phillip District Port Phillip District

1839-1851 VRG 11 Superintendent VA 473 Superintendent
Port Phillip District Port Phillip District

1851-1855 VRG 16 Colonial Secretary VA 856 Colonial Secretary

1855-1900 VRG 22 Trade and Customs VA 606 Department of Trade
and Customs.

Functions exercised included:

monitoring immigrant arrivals, including inspection of ships and certification of passenger lists as part of a wider role in monitoring inter-colonial and overseas passenger arrivals and departures by ship
control and regulation of British and alien (non-British or foreign) immigration, including unassisted and ly sponsored immigration schemes, and naturalisation
administering Government-sponsored assisted British immigration and nomination schemes together with associated reception, settlement, employment and welfare services.

Locally appointed Immigration Agents operated within the Superintendent's Office (VA 473) from 1839 to 1851, the Colonial Secretary's Office (VA 856) from 1851 to 1855 and the Ports and Harbours Branch of the Department of Trade and Customs (VA 606) from 1855 to 1900.

From 1839 to 1868 local officials worked in conjunction with the British Government's Emigration Officer in London who was responsible for promoting migration, supervising the selection of applicants for both Government and ly-sponsored schemes, and arrangements for their passage. In 1868 an Agent-General for Victoria was appointed in London to take over these responsibilities in relation to migration to the Colony of Victoria.

Early Government-funded assisted immigration schemes, which developed in response to a demand for immigrant labour for the rapidly growing Port Phillip District, used the proceeds from the sale of crown land and involved paying a bounty to settlers who sponsored immigrants and provided employment. Large numbers of assisted immigrants arrived from Britain during the period 1839 to 1841 and 1847 to 1851. A financial depression in the 1840's resulted in virtual suspension of assisted immigration from 1841 to 1847. During this time the British Government sent out some ships with exiled convicts. Upon arrival the "exiles" were given a pardon on condition that they did not return to Britain for the unexpired term of their sentence.

During the Gold Rush period, 1851 to 1861, most immigrants paid their own way and Government and ly sponsored schemes were largely eclipsed by this unassisted immigration.

The Victorian Immigration Statute 1864 27 Vic., No.195 consolidated earlier legislation, including the 1863 Act 27 Vic., No.175, which established the office of Agent-General, introduced Government and ly-sponsored nomination schemes, provided for the employment of Immigration Committees to assist new arrivals, and made special provision for alien (non-British or foreign) immigration, its control and regulation.

Separate legislation also administered by Trades and Customs officers, applied to Chinese immigrants who were required to pay an impost on entry and a yearly impost thereafter, which included their Miner's Right (see the 1854, 1857 and 1859 Statutes 18 Vic., No.39, 21 Vic., No.41, and 22 Vic., No.80).

By 1873 as a result of the deteriorating economic situation, the government began to withdraw financial support for assisted immigration and by 1883 such immigration ceased altogether. The Government-sponsored nomination scheme for immigrants with special skills was also phased out. Unassisted immigration from British and foreign ports continued strongly. (It is unclear whether a nomination scheme continued for unassisted immigrants and further research is required in this area.)

Post-Federation: Control and Regulation of Non-British Immigration, Unassisted British Immigration, Naturalisation, and Associated Services.

At Federation responsibility for all forms of non-British immigration and naturalisation passed to the Commonwealth. However, the Chief Secretary (VRG 26) appears to have assumed responsibility for a brief period, taking over these functions from the Commissioner of Trade and Customs (VRG 22) in December 1900 and handing them to the Commonwealth (VRG 87) in 1904. For a brief period from 1975 to 1983 the State was jointly responsible with the Commonwealth (VRG 87) for unassisted British immigration (see below under Assisted Immigration). However for most of the post-Federation period the Commonwealth was responsible for this type of immigration. For this and non-British assisted and unassisted schemes, the Commonwealth also undertook overseas promotion and selection as well as reception, settlement, employment and welfare services.

Post-Federation: Monitoring Immigrant Arrivals

Monitoring immigrant arrivals, as part of a wider role in monitoring overseas passenger arrivals and departures by ship, continued to be a State responsibility through the Commissioner of Public Works (VRG 28) until 1923. From 1900 to 1923 this responsibility was exercised by the Ports and Harbours Branch of the Public Works Department (VA 669). This Branch had belonged to the Department of Trade and Customs (VA 606). This monitoring role became a Commonwealth (VRG 87) function from October 1923 when regulations were passed bringing into effect Part V of the Commonwealth Navigation Act 1912.

Post-Federation: Assisted British Immigration and Associated Services

Assisted immigration schemes flourished between 1906 and 1930 and again after World War II. From 1906 to 1923 administration of assisted British immigration and nomination schemes for Victoria, including overseas promotion and supervision of selection, continued to be largely a State responsibility. From 1923 to 1983 such schemes were jointly administered by the State and Commonwealth Governments with the Commonwealth (VRG 87) taking primary responsibility. The responsible Victorian Ministers and Agencies during the periods 1906 to 1930 and 1947 to 1983 were:

DATE GROUP/MINISTER RESPONSIBLE AGENCY

1906-1918 VRG 18 Lands VA 538 Department of Crown
Lands and Survey

1918-1923 VRG 42 Labour VA 2874 Department of Labour I

1923-1927 VRG 44 Immigration I VA 538 Department of Crown
Lands and Survey

1927-1930 VRG 44 Immigration I VA 669 Public Works
Department

1947-1950 VRG 26 Chief Secretary VA 475 Chief Secretary's
Department

1950-1971 VRG 90 Immigration II VA 475 Chief Secretary's
Department (State
Immigration Office)

1971-1976 VRG 90 Immigration II VA 552 Department of State
Development and
Decentralisation
(Immigration Division)

1976-1977 VRG 68 Immigration and VA 552 Department of State
Ethnic Affairs Development and
Decentralisation
(Immigration Division)

1977-1982 VRG 68 Immigration and VA 1042 Ministry of Ethnic Ethnic Affairs Affairs (also known as Ministry of Immigration
and Ethnic Affairs
1977 to 1983).

1982-1983 VRG 76 Ethnic Affairs VA 1042 Ministry of Ethnic Affairs
(also known as Ministry
of Immigration and
Ethnic Affairs 1977
to 1983).

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, provision of reception, initial settlement and employment services, and co-ordination of overseas promotion and emigration assistance. From 1918 to 1923 responsibility for these functions passed to 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, while 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, 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 ceased, although the position of Minister for Immigration continued until 1943. When assisted immigration from Britain resumed in 1947 it was the responsibility of the Chief Secretary in Victoria, who from 1950 was also appointed Minister for Immigration (VRG 90).

Post World War II: Immigration and Migrant Welfare Services

During the period 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 held by the Commonwealth but the State was responsible for:

processing personal, employer and state nominations, determination of numbers and categories (later known as sponsorships) for assisted British immigrants
reception, settlement and welfare services for assisted British immigrants and in conjunction with the Commonwealth, for non-assisted British and non-British immigrants
support for voluntary and community groups providing assistance to immigrants
assisting in investigation of Community Refugee Settlement nominations
administration of nominations of unassisted British immigrants (from 1975).

Responsibility for unassisted British immigrants prior to 1975, assisted and unassisted non-British immigration, including reception, settlement and welfare services rested primarily with the Commonwealth (VRG 87), however the State would, on request from the Commonwealth, assist these migrants also.

A branch of the Chief Secretary's Department (VA 475), known as the State Immigration Office, continued to have operational responsibility for the State's immigration functions until the establishment of an Immigration Division within the Department of State Development and Decentralisation (VA 552) in 1971.

By 1976 the greater emphasis being placed on the provision of welfare services to settled migrants and on schemes designed to promote the development of a multicultural community, improve relations between community groups, and prevent racial and ethnic discrimination resulted in the appointment of a Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs (VRG 68).

In February 1977 a Ministry of Immigration and Ethnic Affairs (VA 1042) was established assuming 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 the Department of State Development, Decentralisation and Tourism (VA 2881) from 1978 until 1981 when it gained full departmental independence.

The end of the State's role in immigration matters came in early 1983, when the Commonwealth (VRG 87) took over its remaining functions relating to administering 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.

Location of Records

As there were numerous Victorian Ministers and agencies responsible for various aspects of immigration, researchers need to consult relevant sections of the Summary Guide for the period in which they are interested. See also the List of Holdings 2nd edition 1985, sections 3.6.2. (VA 538 Department of Crown Lands and Survey records), 3.10.2 (Immigration records), 3.13.4 (VA 552 Department of State Development and Decentralisation records), 3.16.2-3.16.5 (records of VRG 7 Police Magistrate, VRG 11 Superintendent, VRG 16 Colonial Secretary and VRG 26 Chief Secretary) and 3.19.1 (VA 669 Public Works Department records).

For the post-Federation period, Commonwealth records held at Australian Archives should also be consulted. As there was considerable overlap in the Commonwealth and State administration of the immigration function, there is significant duplication of records within the Public Record Office and Australian Archives holdings.

Ministers

Minister of Immigration and Ethnic Affairs 1976-1982
Minister of Ethnic Affairs 1982-1983

 
Other InformationOther Information
Agencies within this GroupAgencies within this Group
Display entries per page
Date within Group Agency Title Agency Number Agency Hierarchy
1976 - 1978 Department of State Development (from 1972 also known as Department of State Development and Decentralisation) VA 552 Dept. of State
1977 - 1982 Ministry of Ethnic Affairs (also known as Ministry of Immigration and Ethnic Affairs 1977 to 1983) VA 1042 Dept. of State
1978 - 1981 Department of State Development, Decentralisation and Tourism VA 2881 Dept. of State
1982 - 1982 Victorian Multicultural Commission (formerly Ethnic Affairs Commission) VA 1029 Major Statutory Authority
Functions related to this GroupFunctions related to this Group
Display entries per page
Date within Group Function Title Function Number
1976 - 1982 Immigration (twentieth century) VF 138
1976 - 1982 Ethnic affairs VF 231