1961 - the Impact of Post-War Immigration

Assisted passage immigrants arrive in Australia,
Source - Unknown

In 1961 the population of Victoria was 1,474,395. Its profile had changed dramatically with post-war immigration. While the English-born community was still the largest, with 150,621 people, the next largest were the Italy-born and German-born communities. Smaller but significant numbers from southern and eastern Europe were also making their mark. Over 200,000 refugees had settled in Australia since the end of World War II.

The suburbs of Melbourne were rapidly expanding in 1961 to cope with the increasing population. Chadstone shopping centre had just opened, and car ownership was rising. Monash University had its first intake of students, and uniform divorce laws were introduced across Australia. Computers were beginning to play a more significant role in the management of large-scale information, and were used for first time by the Commonwealth Bureau of Census and Statistics. Liberal Prime Minister Robert Menzies had held office for 12 years, the longest term by an Australian Prime Minister.

Internationally, the Cold War was reaching its height, the Berlin Wall was being constructed and Australian soldiers were sent to quell communism at the end of the 'Malayan Emergency'.

Immigration Policy

The 1958 Migration Act finally removed references to race, opening the door to non-discriminatory policy. However, non-European immigration to Australia remained limited until the passage of the Racial Discrimination Act in 1975.

Nearly three million immigrants arrived in Australia between 1945 and 1970, of whom a large proportion settled in Victoria. Australia's immigration program became the second largest in the world, relative to its population (the largest being Israel).

Almost every second immigrant came from Britain. Immigrants were also welcomed from throughout Europe in a drive to increase national security and post-war economic development.

Top 8 Countries of Origin

Country of OriginPopulation% of Victorian Population

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