Australia marks 70th anniversary of Department of Immigration
The Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP) in Australia is celebrating its 70th anniversary, with the publication of a history of its challenges and aims since 1945.
It was initially just called the Department of Immigration when it was established by Ben Chifley, Australia's 16th Prime Minister in July 1945, at a time when Australia had a population of just seven million people and was emerging from World War II.
The new Minister for Immigration, Arthur Calwell, promoted the concept 'populate or perish' and took over all the functions of the immigration branch of the Department of the Interior.
With many immigration branch personnel still on active service, the Department began with just 24 officers, six in Canberra, six in Melbourne and 12 in London.
'If Australians have learned one lesson from the Pacific War, it is surely that we cannot continue to hold our island continent for ourselves and our dependants, unless we greatly increase our numbers,' Calwell said in his first ministerial statement to the Federal Parliament in August 1945.
Since then the Department has facilitated the permanent entry of more than seven million people from around the globe to form one of the world's most linguistically, culturally and religiously diverse nations.
'Australia came out of World War II with the belief that we needed to increase our population to avoid the threat of invasion. Over the coming years, thousands of mostly European migrants would come to our shores, bringing with them a variety of languages, cuisine and culture and signalling the start of the diverse nation we live in today,' said DIBP Secretary, Michael Pezzullo.
He explained that since then, the Department has played a significant role in continuing to build the nation through managed migration, and citizenship. 'Our Department has managed the permanent migration of more than seven million people, including over 800 000 refugees,' he said.
'In addition, we have facilitated a significant contribution to the Australian economy through our temporary entrant and student visa programmes,' he added.