Australia Emigration and Immigration

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Ship Bega of the Illawarra Steam Navigation Company

Online Records[edit | edit source]

Convict Records[edit | edit source]

Guide to penal transportation records: Ireland to Australia, 1788–1868

The Irish Ancestor Periodical[edit | edit source]

There are many Indexes in The Irish Ancestor, of convicts requesting wife and children to be sent out to Australia, at the government's expense.

New South Wales[edit | edit source]

Earl Grey Irish Female Orphans Records[edit | edit source]

Earl Grey's Famine Orphan Scheme transported 4114 Irish orphan girls to the New South Wales colony. At the height of the Irish Famine, the Earl Grey scheme fashioned a plan to ease overcrowding in the workhouses of Ireland, while providing serving staff and a way to help settle the new Australian colony.

Northern Territory[edit | edit source]

Queensland[edit | edit source]

Queensland Passports and Citizenship Records[edit | edit source]

South Australia[edit | edit source]

Tasmania[edit | edit source]

Victoria[edit | edit source]

Western Australia[edit | edit source]

Australia Offices and Archives to Contact[edit | edit source]

National Archives of Australia
National Office
Kings Avenue
Parkes ACT 2600

Phone:02 6212 3600

"The National Archives holds detailed passenger records for arrivals and departures at all Australian ports from 1924. This is when passenger arrivals became an Australian Government responsibility.
"We hold a few passenger records from before 1924, but only for ports in Western Australia, Tasmania and Queensland. Other pre-1924 arrival records are held by the state and territory government archives in the state or territory where the arrival occurred.
"The passenger records in our collection are held in each capital city, primarily for the ports and airports in that state or territory."[1]

  • Research Guides

State Library of South Australia
North Terrace and Kintore Avenue
Adelaide, Australia

Phone us: +61 8 8207 7250
Toll free for regional SA: 1800 182 013
Email us:
Family History FAQ's

Finding the Town of Origin in Australia[edit | edit source]

If you are using emigration/immigration records to find the name of your ancestors' town in Australia, see Australia Finding Town of Origin for additional research strategies.

Australia Emigration and Immigration[edit | edit source]

"Emigration" means moving out of a country. "Immigration" means moving into a country.
Emigration and immigration sources list the names of people leaving (emigrating) or arriving (immigrating) in the country. These sources may be passenger lists, permissions to emigrate, or records of passports issued. The information in these records may include the emigrants’ names, ages, occupations, destinations, and places of origin or birthplaces. Sometimes they also show family groups.

Immigration into Australia[edit | edit source]

  • Between 1788 and 1900 over 1,000,000 people immigrated to Australia. Most of them were from the British Isles, but some were from Europe and Asia.
  • Prior to 1900 there were four classes of immigrants to Australia:
  • Convicts sent to Australia after they were tried and convicted for crimes committed in the British Isles. Tasmania and New South Wales were the states that received most of the convicts before 1830.
  • Bounty immigrants were chosen by Australian colonists to come from the British Isles to Australia.
  • Assisted immigrants came to Australia through the financial assistance of the government, organizations, or wealthy individuals.
  • Paying passengers came to Australia through their own means.

Convicts[edit | edit source]

  • European migration to Australia began with the British convict settlement of Sydney Cove on 26 January 1788.
  • The First Fleet comprised 11 ships carrying 775 convicts and 645 officials, members of the crew, marines, and their families and children. The settlers consisted of petty criminals, second-rate soldiers and a crew of sailors. There were few with skills needed to start a self-sufficient settlement, such as farmers and builders, and the colony experienced hunger and hardships. Male settlers far outnumbered female settlers.
  • The Second Fleet arrived in 1790 bringing more convicts. The conditions of the transportation was described as horrific and worse than slave transports. Of the 1,026 convicts who embarked, 267 (256 men and 11 women) died during the voyage (26%); a further 486 were sick when they arrived of which 124 died soon after. The fleet was more of a drain on the struggling settlement than of any benefit.
  • Conditions on the Third Fleet, which followed on the heels of the Second Fleet in 1791, were a bit better. The fleet comprised 11 ships. Of the more than 2000 convicts brought onto the ships, 173 male convicts and 9 female convicts died during the voyage.
  • Other transport fleets bringing further convicts as well as freemen to the colony would follow. By the end of the penal transportation in 1868, approximately 165,000 people had entered Australia as convicts.[2]

Bounty Immigrants[edit | edit source]

The colonies promoted migration by a variety of schemes. The Bounty Immigration Scheme (1835-1841) boosted emigration from the United Kingdom to New South Wales. The South Australia Company was established to encourage settlement in South Australia by laborers and skilled migrants. The First Fleet of South Australia, 1836, different from the First Fleet of 1788, began the organization of purposeful colonization by the South Australian Company. These colonist received financial incentives (bounties) to join the colony. [2]

Unassisted Immigrants[edit | edit source]

  • The Gold rush era, beginning in 1851, led to an enormous expansion in population, including large numbers of British and Irish settlers, followed by smaller numbers of Germans and other Europeans, and Chinese. This Chinese were subject to increasing restrictions and discrimination, making it impossible for many to remain in the country.[2]

Assisted Immigrants[edit | edit source]

  • The government also found that if it wanted immigrants it had to subsidize migration. The great distance from Europe made Australia a more expensive and less attractive destination than Canada and the United States.
  • The number of immigrants needed during different stages of the economic cycle could be controlled by varying the subsidy. Before federation in 1901, assisted migrants received passage assistance from colonial government funds. Few immigrants received colonial government assistance before 1831.
  • The British government paid for the passage of convicts, paupers, the military and civil servants.
  • After World War II, Australia launched a massive immigration program, believing that having narrowly avoided a Japanese invasion, Australia must "populate or perish". Hundreds of thousands of displaced Europeans migrated to Australia.
  • Over 1,000,000 British subjects immigrated under the Assisted Passage Migration Scheme, colloquially becoming known as Ten Pound Poms.

The scheme initially targeted citizens of all Commonwealth countries; after the war it gradually extended to other countries such as the Netherlands and Italy. The qualifications were straightforward: migrants needed to be in sound health and under the age of 45 years. There were initially no skill restrictions.

  • Under the White Australia Policy, people from mixed-race backgrounds found it very difficult to take advantage of the scheme.[2]

Jewish Refugees[edit | edit source]

5000 Jewish refugee families arrived from Germany in 1938.[2]

Humanitarian Program[edit | edit source]

Australia grants two types of visa under its humanitarian program: Refugee-category visas for refugees under the Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, and Special Humanitarian Programme (SHP) visas for persons who are subject to substantial discrimination amounting to gross violation of their human rights in their home country. The cap for visas granted under the humanitarian program was 13,750 for 2015–16, plus an additional 12,000 visas available for refugees from the conflicts in Syria and Iraq.[2]

2019 Statistics for Australian Residents of Foreign Birth[edit | edit source]

Only nationalities with more than 100,000 Australian residents are listed. Click on each country link to a Wikipedia article detailing history, statistics, localities, and/or motivation for immigrating.[2]

Total number of foreign-born: 7,653,990

Emigration From Australia[edit | edit source]

  • About 750,000 Australian expatriates live outside of Australia, mostly business executives and retired people seeking a new place to live.
  • There are large Australian communities in New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and North America; and smaller groups in Europe, Africa (especially South Africa), the Middle East (particularly the United Arab Emirates), east and south Asia (including Thailand and Papua New Guinea), and Latin America (like Costa Rica, esp. Brazil, Chile, and Argentina).[3]

Records of Italian Emigrants in Their Destination Nations[edit | edit source]

Dark thin font green pin Version 4.png One option is to look for records about the ancestor in the country of destination, the country they immigrated into. See links to Wiki articles about immigration records for major destination countries below. Additional Wiki articles for other destinations can be found at Category:Emigration and Immigration Records.

For Further Reading[edit | edit source]

  • Listen to the podcast: Transportation to Australia Over 162,000 British and Irish convicts were transported to Australia between 1787 and 1868. Roger Kershaw explores the reasons behind the policy of transportation and looks at the experiences of the people who were shipped beyond the seas, using case studies from the archives.
  • There are additional sources listed in the FamilySearch Catalog:

References[edit | edit source]

  1. "Passenger arrival records", National Archives of Australia,, accessed 6 March 2022.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 2.6 "Immigration to Australia",, accessed 21 June 2021.
  3. "List of diasporas", in Wikipedia,, accessed 21 June 2021.