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Commonwealth Government Records about South Australia


Migrant accommodation

Image 15: The dining room at Pennington Migrant Hostel, Adelaide, 1973

Image 15: The dining room at Pennington Migrant Hostel, Adelaide, 1973
NAA: A12111, 2/1973/22A/135
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For the first weeks or months of settlement in South Australia, many migrants went to reception and training centres run by both the Commonwealth and state governments. The Department of Immigration was responsible for the centres run by the Commonwealth, and kept records on administration and residents.

Commonwealth-administered hostels included Finsbury/Pennington, Gawler, Gepps Cross, Glenelg (North), Mallala, Mannum, Mount Barker, Rosewater, Salisbury, Seaton (Park), Smithfield, Whyalla, Wingfield and Woodside. State-administered hostels included Elder Park, Hendon, Semaphore and Woodville.

The Pennington migrant hostel was one of the largest reception centres in Australia, able to accommodate up to 1600 people. Many of the English migrants who were employed at the Weapons Research Establishment Salisbury or ammunition factories at Smithfield and Salisbury were accommodated at the Smithfield hostel.

The hostels provided a wide range of services to help migrants settle in Australia, from child-minding centres and English language classes, to youth recreation activities, welfare and assistance in obtaining permanent accommodation.

Administration of the hostels was undertaken by Commonwealth Hostels Limited, an Australia-wide and Commonwealth-owned company incorporated in Victoria. Commonwealth Hostels Limited in South Australia was formed in 1951 and absorbed the functions of the Migrant Workers Accommodation Division, Western Region of the Department of Labour and National Service. The company's functions in South Australia included the provision and maintenance of, and catering for, hostels and similar accommodation for newly arrived migrants.

In 1974 Commonwealth Hostels Limited became known as Commonwealth Accommodation and Catering Services Limited to reflect its expanded functions. The agency closed in 1988 when it was sold by the Commonwealth Government to private enterprise.

Records held by the Archives relating to migrant accommodation include arrival and departure registers, residents' index cards, building plans, photographs and correspondence files.

Selected series relating to migrant accommodation in South Australia
Adelaide
Recorded by: Department of Immigration, South Australia Branch
Woodside immigration holding camp nominal index cards, 1947–62 D343
Sydney
Recorded by: Department of Immigration, South Australia Branch
Guarantee of accommodation – migrant holding centres, 1949–52 AP381/4
Sydney
Recorded by: Commonwealth Hostels Limited, State Administration, South Australia
Correspondence files, 1952–55 D2975
Wages staff leave record cards, 1952–85 D2429
Folder containing wages staff leave record cards (Works and Maintenance depots), 1952–65 D2817
Correspondence files, 1962–80 D2973
Equipment (assets) disposal file, 1966–70 D2976
Welfare reports – Hon Cyril Chambers, 1967–72 D3188
Migrant flats files, 1970–76 D3189
General subject folders, 1968–85 D3224
Correspondence files, 1976–85 D3225
Correspondence files, 1977–83 D3262
Miscellaneous pamphlets issued to intending residents of Pennington Migrant Hostel, 1983–84 D2463
Adelaide
Recorded by: Commonwealth Hostels Limited, State Administration, South Australia
Photographs, 1960–72 D2977
Hostel plans and drawings, 1941–61 D2998
Hostel resident cards, 1954–87 D3766
Sydney
Recorded by: Rosewater/Gepps Cross/Gawler/Smithfield/Glenelg North/Pennington Hostels, South Australia
Boarders' personal files, 1950–85 D2420
Sydney
Recorded by: Rosewater/Gepps Cross/Gawler/Smithfield/Glenelg North/Pennington Hostels, South Australia
General subject files, Pennington Migrant Hostel, 1966–85 D2980
Adelaide
Recorded by: Rosewater/Gepps Cross/Gawler/Smithfield/Glenelg North/Pennington Hostels, South Australia
Arrival and departure registers, Finsbury (Pennington) Hostel, 1950–85 D2416
Arrival and departure registers, Glenelg North Migrant Hostel, 1950–72 D2419
Arrival and departure registers, Gepps Cross Migrant Hostel, 1950–53 D2417
Arrival and departure registers, Smithfield Migrant Hostel, 1949–71 D2418
Arrival and departure registers, Gawler Migrant Hostel, 1950–56 D2421
Arrival and departure registers, Rosewater Migrant Hostel, 1950–53 D2422
Selected series that contain records relating to migrant accommodation in South Australia
Canberra
Recorded by: Department of Immigration, Central Office
Immigration photographic archive, 1946– A12111
Correspondence files, 1951–55 A445
Canberra, Sydney Adelaide
Recorded by: Director of Works, South Australia
Correspondence files, 1932–97 D156
Sydney, Adelaide
Recorded by: Director of Works, South Australia
Photographs of buildings, installations, sites, 1946–97 D3481
Adelaide
Recorded by: Director of Works, South Australia
Original plans (negatives), 1914–59 D1423
Job files, 1932–97 D618
Specifications (office copies), 1941–62 AP567/1
Adelaide
Recorded by: Chief Property Officer, South Australia
General correspondence files, 1915–77 D4441
Correspondence files, 1952–77 D4404
Adelaide
Recorded by: Department of Labour and National Service, Branch Office/Regional Administration, South Australia
Correspondence files, 1941–54 D358
Correspondence files, 1954–97 D359
Selected items relating to migrant accommodation in South Australia
Canberra
Conditions in migrant hostels in South Australia, 1951–52 A462, 693/7
Photograph album – pre-school play centre, immigration centre, Woodside, South Australia, 1952–57 AA1969/441, 18/6
Sydney
Finsbury Hostel – buildings and land – records some of the setting up of this hostel – also known as Pennington Hostel, 1949–52 D2980, 502/3/1
Adelaide
Woodside immigration holding camp nominal index card – Anna Sek, 1950–51 D343, SEK A
Gepps Cross migrant hostel, 1950 D1051, MIGRANT HOSTEL GEPPS CROSS DRAWING
Arrival and departure register – Finsbury Hostel – 25 June 1959 – 12 October 1959 D2416, volume 1

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Chapter 10
Immigration and naturalisation