History of migration

The sister-city agreement between Ikeda, Japan and Launceston. November 1, 1965.There has been at least one constant in Tasmania’s history:the migration of people from all over the world to the island state.

Since settlement, world influences have strongly influenced migration to Tasmania, with global conflicts playinga big role.

In 1803 white settlement of Tasmania began, but not for the reasons you might think.

Britain, who was at the time at war with France, sent people to colonise the state to prevent the French from staking a claim on the territory.

When the war with France ended in 1815 many soldiers struggled to find work in the empire, driving another wave of migration to Van Diemen’s Land.

Free land grants by the government in the 1820s led many to seek their fortunes in the lucky country, where they could establish themselves comfortably.

“These were mainly skilled people who could see that their skills were in demand,” historian Jon Addison said.

Also during this period, many used the convict system as a form of unofficial migration.

“Bear in mind …if you were seriously disenfranchised urban poor, the standard of living here as a convict was probably higher than what you’d left in Britain, particularly in Ireland,” Mr Addison said.

The 1830s saw an influx of Scots, after they were displaced by changes to the way farms were managed by the few powerful families.

Similarly, the potato famine of the 1840s drove many Irish to immigrate, seeking fairer fortunes.

In this era, migrants took about 20 weeks to arrive by boat.

After the abolition of free land grants in 1831, a new system was developed by the Tasmanian government in 1854 to drive skilled migration to the colony, whereby the government assisted migrants with their passage on the condition themigrant either repaid it or worked in the state for two years.

The first significant migration of non-British people was in 1855 when six shiploads of Germans arrived,attracted for skilled labor.

However, with the advent of World War I, the government imprisoned 10 Germans and sent five back to Germany.

At that time many Tasmanian towns that reflected German heritage, such as Bismark, now Collinsvale, were renamed.

Both World War I and World War II drove migration to Tasmania, with people wanted to help build defences, and fill skills shortages in the wake of the population hit suffered in each war.

Hundreds of Italians came to Tasmania after World War I, and following World War, II many Poles and Europeans arrived, often workingon hydro-electric schemes.

More recently, the white Australia policy was lifted in 1972, allowing greater diversity of arrivals in Tasmania.

The 1970s saw the arrival of Asian migrants escaping Vietnam, and most recently one in five arrivals in Tasmania are humanitarian refugees.

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