changing lives..... through migration



The first fleet of migrants arrived in Australia in Port Jackson now called Sydney on 26 January 1788. Australians remember the date of that first landing as Australia Day, which is the national day. Migrants arrived with and after the First Fleet were mainly English convicts and free settlers. They included Italians, Greeks, Malays and people from other parts of Europe. The gold rushes attracted a large number of people from Britain, Ireland, Germany and China. Afghans also came at this time, bringing camels with them for inland exploration. Early Japanese settlers started the pearling industry in Australia.

Large-scale migration began after World War II and still continues. The resettlement of displaced persons and refugees saw migrants come from Britain, many parts of Europe and the Middle East. After the abolition of the White Australia policy, migrants also came from many parts of Asia. Patterns that are more recent see more people coming from Africa.


Australia is the Earth’s largest island but smallest continent in the world with an area of 7.69 million square kilometres. It is about 3700 kilometres from north to south and 4000 kilometres from east to west. Australia is a natural wonderland of beautiful beaches, crystal blue waters, amazing ancient rock formations (e.g. Twelve Apostles) and pristine rainforests.

In area, Australia is the 6th largest nation after Russia, Canada, China, the United States and Brazil. It is about twice the size of the European Union or the ten nations that make up the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). Its ocean territory is the third largest in the world which spans three oceans and covers around 12 million square kilometres. Even though, Australia has the lowest population density per square kilometre.

The responsibility for governing this huge continent is distributed between three levels of government - the federal Australian Government, the governments of the six states and two territories, and about 700 local government authorities.

The Australian Capital Territory is 290 kilometres south of Sydney. It was established in 1911 as the site of Canberra, the nation’s capital. It is home to important national institutions, including the Australian Parliament, the High Court of Australia, the National Gallery, the National Library, the National Museum of Australia and the Australian War Memorial.

New South Wales is Australia’s oldest and most populous state. Its capital, Sydney, is the nation’s largest city. The city’s Harbour Bridge and Opera House are national icons.

Victoria is the smallest amongst the states in area but the second most populous and the most densely populated state. Melbourne, the capital, is Australia’s second-largest city. The Melbourne Cup, Australia’s premier horse race, the Australian Tennis Open and the Australian Formula One Grand Prix are held in Melbourne.

Queensland, the second-largest state in area, stretches from the tropical rainforests of Cape York in the far north to the more temperate areas in the south-east of the state. The unique Great Barrier Reef runs along its north-east coast. The capital of Queensland is Brisbane.

South Australia is known as the ‘Festival State’, with more than 500 festivals taking place there every year. The state has 13 wine regions and is a hub for Australia’s food and wine gourmets. Adelaide, the capital, contains examples of colonial architecture.

Western Australia is the largest state in area. The east of the state is mostly desert while to the west the state is bound by 12,889 kilometres of the world’s most pristine coastline. About 75% of the state’s population live in Perth, the capital.

Tasmania is separated from mainland Australia by Bass Strait and is the smallest state in Australia. With its unspoilt wilderness landscapes, it is one of Australia’s most popular tourist destinations. Every year on 26 December the keenest of sailors race from Sydney to Hobart, Tasmania’s capital, in the nation’s most hotly contested sailing event.

The Northern Territory is twice as big as France but has a population of about 200,000 people only. Darwin, on the northern coast, is the capital and Alice Springs the principal inland town.


Many people are attracted to employment opportunities in regional Australia. Regional Australia offers open spaces, less expensive life styles and the wonderful Australian environment. Many regional centres also have a strong cultural diversity with well established migrant communities. There are a range of initiatives to attract migrants, with particular skills and abilities, to many regions of Australia. Regional Australia increases the opportunities for migrants to successfully settle outside of the major Australian cities.

All Australians are entitled to freedom of speech, association, assembly, religion, and movement.

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