The “Ten Pound Pom” scheme is the colloquial name for an assisted migration scheme that operated in Australia after World War II.
In spite of its name, this scheme was not limited to those from the United Kingdom but was open to citizens of all Commonwealth countries.
Adult migrants were charged ₤10 for their fare and children traveled for free. They were drawn by promises of employment and housing, a more relaxed lifestyle and a better climate.
“Ten Pound Poms” needed to be in sound health and under the age of 45 years.
There were initially no skill restrictions, although under the “White Australia” policy those from mixed race backgrounds found it very difficult to take advantage of the scheme.
At one point in 1947, more than 400,000 Brits were registered at Australia House in London for the scheme.
The aim of the scheme was to substantially increase Australia’s population in response to fears of a Japanese invasion, and a new awareness of Australia’s vulnerability and unrealised economic potential as an under-populated country.
The “Populate or Perish” policy was developed by the Curtin Government before the end of World War II.
By late 1944 the Australian Government had begun negotiations with Britain for assisted immigration programs in the post-war years.
Since all Australian political parties supported the “White Australia” policy they looked to Britain and northern European countries for immigrants in the belief that people from these countries would more easily assimilate with the Australian community.
After the war, Australia gradually extended assisted passage schemes to immigrants from other countries such as the Netherlands and Italy to maintain high levels of immigration. It also welcomed refugees from war-torn Europe.
Many migrants faced lengthy stays in migrant hostels, failed to get ideal employment or missed their old communities.
Around one quarter of the “Ten Pound Poms” left Australia within a few years of their arrival.