British Migrants: Instant Australians?

Between 1947 and 1981 nearly 1.5 million Britons migrated to Australia, seduced by promises of sun, surf and a better life. Most of the newcomers came on assisted passages, part of the Australian Government’s pursuit of a white, British, nation. This group of migrants were simultaneously everywhere and invisible, expected to become ‘instant Australians’. But the reality of migration is never that simple.

This exhibition, developed by Museums Victoria, explores the personal experiences and historical and contemporary impacts of British migrants in the postwar decades. The exhibition features stories told by  children, teenagers and families, labourers, adventurers, returnees, musicians, and even a snake dancer – brought to life through compelling digital animation. The exhibition’s historical and personal narrative threads are drawn together with contributions by multicultural and Indigenous commentators and academics to provide the basis for a conversation about British migration and its contemporary meanings, relevance and ongoing impacts.

Exhibition opened 22 February 2020 and has been extended to 22 November 2020.

Museums Victoria and the History Trust of South Australia wish to acknowledge that this exhibition was developed on the lands of the Boonwurrung and Woi Wurrung peoples and is shown on the lands of the Kaurna people. We recognise First People’s continuation of cultures and connections to Country, in the face of over two centuries of migration.

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