Australia’s Aboriginal population was about 400,000 in 1788, when European settlement began. Today, over 20 million people live here. Migration has been the main driver for this change. In New South Wales, four out of every ten people are either migrants or the children of migrants.

Australia has a rich migration history, along with the considerable development in the attitudes towards to the migrants. The first migrants were decidedly involuntary, the convicts transported from Britain, Ireland and, to a lesser degree, other British colonies. Altogether 80,000 arrived in New South Wales between 1788 and 1840. From the 1830s they were joined by small numbers of voluntary migrants, again principally from Britain and Ireland.

However the nature of Australian migration changed completely, with the discovery of gold just outside Bathurst in 1851. People arrived in far greater numbers and from more varied backgrounds than ever before. By the time of Federation the total population was close to four million of whom one in four was born overseas. Many had been given assisted passages. Whilst the majority were of British or Irish extraction, there were significant numbers of Europeans, particularly Germans, and Chinese.

In 1901, when the colonies federated, control of immigration changed. Instead of each colony managing its own system, the Commonwealth now oversaw recruiting and selection. Assisted passages were offered to encourage migration with priority still being given to the British and Irish. That period was infamous in the migration history as White Australia Policy.With the 1918 after the First World War, peace came a revival of assisted migration schemes. The British Government offered ex-servicemen free passage to one of the dominions or colonies and 17,000 arrived in Australia between 1919 and 1922. Church and community organisations such as the YMCA and the Salvation Army sponsored migrants.

When the Second World War ended, the government took an entirely new approach to migration. In 1945, the Department of Immigration was established, headed up by Arthur Calwell. It resolved that Australia should have annual population growth of two per cent, of which only half could come from natural increase. 70,000 immigrants a year were needed to make up the difference. During the few years this scheme operated, nearly 171,000 arrived.

From the 1950s, Australia began to relax its ‘White Australia’ policy. In 1956 non-European residents were allowed to apply for citizenship.

In 1973,declaring Australia a ‘multicultural’ society, Al Grassby announced that every relic of past ethnic or racial discrimination had been abolished. The Australian Citizenship Act of that year declared that all migrants were to be accorded equal treatment.

In 1975, the first of what would become known as ‘boat people’ arrived in Darwin. More than 25 000 arrived in the next thirty years, initially from East Timor and then from Vietnam, China and, most recently, the Middle East. All are subject to compulsory internment while their claims of refugee status are assessed. Although Australia has been criticised by the United Nations and Amnesty International for the injustice of interring all illegal migrants, particularly children, it continues to this day.

In 1996, for the first time in Australia’s migration history, the number of British migrants arriving fell to second place behind New Zealand. Renewed prosperity in Europe has also meant that, where once Italians and Greeks made up the majority of non-British new arrivals, today, after New Zealand, it is people from China, South Africa and India. Conflicts overseas have also meant that Australia is now taking refugees from countries previously unrepresented. In 2006 the fastest growing refugee group is from Sudan followed by Afghanistan and Iraq.


Source: Immigration Heritaz Centre


Immigration Opportunities in Australia

As an extremely popular destination, Australia is inviting highly skilled young people wishing to start a new life in another country. With the country’s strong economy, Australia is actively encouraging the immigration of skilled migrants. Skilled migrants wishing to work in Australia will be assessed on a points based system with points awarded for work experience, qualifications and language proficiency. Other ways of obtaining immigration visas to Australia include the Australian Family Migration and Humanitarian Programs.

Migration Options

According to the Australian Government, there are a number of migration options for fiancés, partners, children, parents and other family members of Australian citizens and Australian permanent residents. Also, there are various categories of people who can apply for immigration to Australia.

Employer Sponsored Workers: Australian or overseas employers can sponsor people with recognised skills to work for a definite period in Australia.

Professionals and other Skilled Migrants: This category of people for designated occupations can migrate to Australia straight without any sponsorship from an employer.

Business People: People with sufficient wealth and good business profile also can come to establish, manage or develop a new or existing business, or invest in Australia.


Settle in Australia

Australian Government Department of Immigration and Citizenship

Australian Government

Australian High Commission New Delhi