Australia accepts displaced persons from Europe – 843 Estonians, Latvians, and Lithuanians arrive. (1947)

After World War Two Australia agreed to provide a new home to many people from Europe who had become refugees because of the war. The first ‘displaced persons’ came from the Baltic countries – Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia. There were 843 people in the first group to arrive in Australia in 1947. This was the beginning of a large-scale immigration program. Many Australians felt that the population needed to grow so that the country could defend itself better, and have enough people to fill all the jobs that were available. Most of the refugees from World War Two arrived during 1949 and 1950. The one millionth person to migrate to Australia after World War Two was Mrs Barbara Porritt, who arrived with her husband in Australia on 8 November 1955. In the previous decade the makeup of the population had changed dramatically. In about 1945, more than 7 in 10 Australians were from a British background. By 1955 this proportion had dropped to approximately 5 in 10 Australians. As more and more people migrated to Australia, bringing with them a rich variety of cultures and skills, the proportion continued to drop, to a little over 3 in 10 Australians.

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