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Research Guides

More People Imperative: Immigration to Australia, 1901–39

Voluntary and church organisations involved in migration work

The following list is by no means exhaustive. Please note that the internal archives of non-government organisations are not held by the National Archives; usually, the organisations themselves hold these records. Researchers wishing to work on the role of these non-government organisations in immigration would be advised to contact the particular organisations concerned. The work of Geoffrey Sherington (in Jupp, 1988) and John Lack and Jacqueline Templeton, (1988) is acknowledged here.

Australian German Migration Association dealt with refugees in the 1930s on a non-denominational basis.

Australian Jewish Welfare Society, formed in 1937 with the amalgamation of several existing organisations, selected, sponsored and received Jewish refugees.

Big Brother Movement was a juvenile migration scheme, founded in 1924 by Richard Linton. Australian men (called 'Big Brothers') virtually became god-fathers to youth, generally 15 to 17 years of age, (called 'Little Brothers') who arrived from Great Britain under the scheme thus providing long-term aftercare. 'Little Brothers' generally underwent a course at Scheyville Training Farm, Hawkesbury River, then worked for selected employers in rural industries in NSW. Most of these schemes were suspended with the outbreak of World War II .

British Dominions Immigration Society

British Empire Service League

British Orphans Adoption Society

British Settlers' Welfare Committee was established in 1931 for the purpose of attending to the aftercare of youth introduced into New South Wales as assisted migrants prior to the depression. It was supported by the British government.

British Women's Overseas League

Boy Scouts' Association sponsored juvenile immigration to Australia, mainly to Queensland

Catholic Church including the Catholic Immigration Societies of New South Wales and Queensland, Catholic Emigration Association, London, the Christian Brothers schemes and the Catholic Episcopal Migration and Welfare Association, (Perth).

Child Emigration Society, Oxford, in association with the Farm School Society of Western Australia, sponsored child migrants for settlement at Kingsley Fairbridge's Farm School at Pinjarra, south of Perth, from 1912. Other farm schools were established in later years, one at Molong, New South Wales in 1937, and another along the same lines, the Lady Northcote Farm School in Victoria.

Church Army brought boys, mainly to Queensland, for farm work both before and after World War I.

Church of England Society for Empire Settlement

Church of England Immigration (Migration) Council (or Committee), under the leadership of Canon David Garland, was involved in group nomination in the second half of the 1920s.

Continental Catholic Migrants' Welfare Committee, Sydney, began operations in 1938 and attended to the reception, settlement and aftercare of Catholic refugees.

Country Women's Association

Dr Barnardo's Homes began sponsoring child migrants in 1921, training boys for farm labouring and girls for domestic service.

Dreadnought Trust, NSW, formed in 1909 with funds originally raised in New South Wales to purchase a battleship for the British government, sponsored boys.

European Refugee Emergency Committees (non-Aryan Christian refugees)

German Emergency Fellowship Committee (formed by Camilla Wedgwood and Dr Lemberg in February 1937), introduced a small number of non-Aryan Christians (of partial Jewish race) for agricultural work or domestic service under certain conditions. This became the European Emergency Committee in April 1939, its focus, non-Jewish and non-Catholic refugees.

Girl Guides Association in the late 1930s was involved in migrant selection.

Immigration League of Australia, formed in 1905 by Richard Arthur, MLA. (A later offshoot was called the Immigration League of Australasia while the original body was renamed the British Immigration League of Australia.)

Inter-Church Committee for non-Aryan Christian Refugees, began in October 1938 and worked in close collaboration with the European Emergency Committee. It consisted of Church representatives (other than the Roman Catholic Church), and representatives of the Salvation Army, the Society of Friends (Quakers), the YMCA and YWCA, and the National Missionary Council of Australia. The Society of Friends also helped those of no religious persuasion.

Inter-Church Immigration Committee formed by the Presbyterian, Methodist, Congregationalist and Baptist Churches and the Church of Christ in 1926, co-ordinating with the YMCA Migration Department.

International Refugee Emergency Councils were also formed in 1938 in Victoria, Queensland and South Australia, to care for refugees who were non-Jewish by religion and non-Catholic, but they had no real ties with the former group.

Masonic Clubs nominated and received families

Millions Club, formed in Sydney in 1916. From 1919 to 1925, its founder, Sir Joseph Carruthers, campaigned to settle 'a million farmers on a million farms' in New South Wales and Victoria.

New Settlers' League, formed in 1921 with government support, to welcome and assist British immigrants and had branches in Queensland, New South Wales, Tasmania and in Western Australia, as a sub-branch of the Ugly Men's Association. Only the Queensland branch continued to operate after 1930.

Nichols (Rev R C) known as 'Brother Bill' of St Mark's Church of England, Fitzroy, Melbourne, sponsored child migration to Victoria.

Presbyterian Church

Rotary Clubs nominated and received families

Salvation Army brought large numbers of immigrants of the poorer classes, many of them juveniles, to Australia in the 1920s and 1930s. The Army also brought out many women, especially war widows and their children after World War I.

St Vincent de Paul

Primary Producers' Union (had representatives on the New Settlers' League Executive Council).

Ugly Men's Association, Western Australia, affiliated with the New Settler's League to receive migrants.

United British Immigrants' Association (had representatives on the New Settlers' League Executive Council).

Victoria League, formed in 1901, promoted the Empire and empire migration, particularly of middle-class British women. It was affiliated with the Royal Colonial Institute and had connections with the Society for the Oversea Settlement of British Women. It was active before World War I and in the 1920s and involved in migrant selection in the late 1930s.

Welcome and Welfare Committee, operated in Victoria in the 1930s, supported by the British government.

West Australian Cornish Association (had representatives on the New Settlers' League Executive Council).

Young Australia League brought youth to Western Australia

Young Men's Christian Association worked in conjunction with certain Protestant churches in promoting child migration in the 1920s

Young Women's Christian Association