Empty spaces and smiling faces: the New Settlers' League and Australian immigration

Stockdale, Jacqueline Mary (2016) Empty spaces and smiling faces: the New Settlers' League and Australian immigration. PhD thesis, James Cook University.

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Abstract

Population and immigration have long been concerns for colonial, Commonwealth and state governments in Australia, with issues such as empty spaces, a vulnerable north, national development, labour supply, and race persistently arising. So too has settlement, the corollary of immigration, proved challenging, particularly in regional and rural areas and in the country's north. “Empty Spaces and Smiling Faces” examines a significant but overlooked contributor to Australia's immigration and settlement history, the New Settlers' League of Australia.

The New Settlers League emerged from collaboration between the Commonwealth, states and civil society in the years following World War One when unprecedented national significance was given to immigration. Funded initially by the Commonwealth and later by state governments, the league was formed in March 1921 to promote British migration and provide aftercare to immigrants by ensuring they were welcomed, employed and integrated into their new communities. The New Settlers' League expanded into a vast and vigorous network spanning the country and lasting from several years in most states to many decades in Queensland. This thesis examines the league from its formation to its demise.

Immigration is an issue vital to understanding the Australian nation as it is and as it aspires to be. Consequently, the history, influence and contribution of the New Settlers' League merit detailed exploration. Though a few historians have made reference to the league, no detailed account has been published. This thesis redresses that void. It first considers the historical background of Australian immigration and factors that led to the league's formation then examines how the league pursued its four main objectives and what led to the demise of four state divisions, followed by a separate exploration of the exceptional Queensland division. The final chapter examines the contributions of the league's members, particularly women, and their motives for volunteering.

This thesis augments existing research by appraising the New Settlers' League in the context of Australia's immigration history. As a volunteer organisation, the league played a major role in immigration and settlement, not only promoting immigration's benefits to an often doubtful Australian public, but undertaking responsibility for the welfare, employment, accommodation and social needs of many thousands of immigrants over many years. From its beginning when immigration programmes were exclusively British-focused, until mid-century when there was a broader embrace of peoples from many nations, the New Settlers' League made a remarkable contribution to Australia's success as a nation of immigrants.

Item ID: 49950
Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Keywords: Australia's past, Australian immigration, colonial Australia, immigrants, New Settlers' League, settlement, settlers
Date Deposited: 24 Aug 2017 22:46
FoR Codes: 21 HISTORY AND ARCHAEOLOGY > 2103 Historical Studies > 210303 Australian History (excl Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander History) @ 100%
SEO Codes: 95 CULTURAL UNDERSTANDING > 9505 Understanding Past Societies > 950503 Understanding Australias Past @ 100%
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