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Type: Thesis
Title: Australian immigration and migrant assimilation 1945 to 1960.
Author: Kokegei, Kristy Ann
Issue Date: 2013
School/Discipline: School of History and Politics
Abstract: In 1947 Australia embarked on a large scale immigration program that resulted in the settlement of over 1 million migrants over the next 15 years. The grandiose nature of this program and its ideological underpinnings of migrant assimilation dominate this period of Australian immigration history. The orthodox perception of this often referred to but surprisingly under-researched policy is that it was a dogmatic drive for migrant assimilation into the existing Australian culture. How, then, does the nation come to accept these immigrants and transform itself into a celebrated multicultural state in the space of the next 30 years? This thesis contends that Australia’s postwar policy of migrant assimilation is more nuanced than this perception allows. If we accept that the ostensibly uncompromising rhetoric of assimilation defined the migrant experience, this will lead to a skewed understanding of what was actually transpiring at this crucial transitional moment in Australia’s immigration history. This thesis argues that the implications of postwar migrant assimilation policy cannot be understood without examining government and grass roots initiatives towards migrant settlement. By examining both government and community responses to the policy of assimilation, at the national and local level and through a German migrant case study, this thesis reveals the existence of a subtle but important social and administrative dialogue on the settlement needs of migrants. This thesis demonstrates that regardless of its initial conception or accompanying rhetoric, postwar assimilation fostered a growing national dialogue and exchange of information on the migrant situation. Coupled with the tireless work of many individual public servants, community bodies and Australian citizens, this dialogue established channels of communication and fostered reciprocal relationships that enhanced the provision of settlement services for migrants. This dialogue also sanctioned the negotiation, interpretation and implementation of policy at both the national and grass roots levels. The goals of this reciprocal process were more akin to achieving migrant ‘settlement’ rather than ‘assimilationist’ outcomes. Ultimately this thesis demonstrates that the relationships and processes engendered by the policy of assimilation inform our understanding of the period as the progenitor of Australian multiculturalism.
Advisor: Drapac, Vesna Maria
Dissertation Note: Thesis (Ph.D.) -- University of Adelaide, School of History and Politics, 2013
Keywords: Australian immigration; migrant assimilation; Germans in South Australia
Provenance: Copyright material removed from digital thesis. See print copy in University of Adelaide Library for full text.
Appears in Collections:Research Theses

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