A new ‘assisted passage’ scheme was launched in 1947 to encourage Britons to emigrate, and subsidised by both the Australian and British Governments. The fare was just £10 (and £5 per child over the age of 14*) and less than a tenth of the real cost. With the promise of good employment opportunities, housing and a brighter, outdoor way of life, it was an affordable way of making a new life overseas. For many the allure of a smiling, sunny Australia in the midst of postwar, austerity Britain was an enticing prospect.
The scheme was an instant success. Over 400,000 Brits registered at Australia House (in London) in 1947 alone. And just as Calwell had wished, the number of British migrants outnumbered those from the rest of Europe right up until 1953.
When British numbers dipped, and the number of migrants from Southern Europe increased between 1953 and 1956, the Australian Government launched a new campaign, ‘Bring out your Britons’, in 1957. This scheme encouraged new migrants to sponsor friends and family to join them down under.
More than a decade later, the number of British migrants taking up the assisted passage scheme peaked at 80,000 in 1969. In total over one million Brits emigrated to Australia between 1945 and 1972 on the subsidised scheme.
The ‘ten pound Poms’ had truly arrived…
*Younger children travelled free until the 1960s when all children travelled free.