Bridging the Distance | 1939-selection
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The first agreements between the Australian and Dutch Governments
were made in 1939, eventually leading to the Netherlands Australia
Migration Agreement in 1951. The Dutch didn’t want to just let anyone leave,
but not everyone was welcome in Australia either…


Financial support was the key asset of the migration agreement. With this assisted passage the Australian government could effectively control who was eligible to come to Australia and who was not. Australia wanted young, healthy and white people to build a nation. Furthermore, migrants whose passage was subsidized by the Australian government, were obliged to work for at least two years wherever one was appointed.

Just after the war, the Dutch needed all their resources to rebuild the country. Thus support for migration from their side focused on unskilled, unemployed people rather than craftsmen. Prior to 1951 emigrants were also not allowed to take any money out of the country and had to leave virtually everything they owned behind. After 1951 this policy became more relaxed and emigrants were permitted to take 1500 guilders for the man, 750 for his wife and 400 per child.


‘Appearance: Very much against him, as he is a very typical “country-boy” in looks and manner.
Intelligence: Questioned on simple point of geography + simple mathematics, gave correct, quick answers. My opinion is that he is of normal intelligence, relative to his background of small village life.’

The medical officer

‘Quite a pleasant unit on appearance and demeanour and should be well received in Australia. Once English improves they should assimilate well.’

The selection officer

There’s a lot of personal information to be found in the archives. There might be interesting information regarding your family’s migration story as well.