Date of Award

2013

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

School

School of Communications and Arts

Faculty

Education and Arts

First Advisor

Associate Professor Jill Durey

Abstract

This study comprises an essay entitled ‘Ten Pounds for Adults, Kids Travel Free’ and a creative component entitled ‘The Red Pipe: a Novella Set in Port Hedland’. The essay focuses upon the children of the ‘golden era’ of British migration to Australia, between 1961 and 1971, when over 300,000 arrived as part of an unprecedented post-war population drive. Most travelled under an assisted passage scheme in which adults paid £10 towards their fare and their children travelled free of charge. Consequently, these assisted British immigrants were known by Australians as the ‘Ten Pound Poms’. Two decades on from the introduction of the scheme, immigration motives had shifted from the desperation born of immediate post-war austerity to the heightened expectations of the increasingly affluent Sixties and Seventies. The vast majority of these later British migrants came in family units, for the future of their children was a major consideration for most of the parents. Many of them faced significant struggle settling in to what was promised to be a ‘British way of life’, whilst, in reality, Australia was becoming an increasingly multicultural and unfamiliar society. This study is distinctive in that it examines the long-term consequences of migration upon the lives of the British children. It seeks to acknowledge, but ultimately to shift the focus from, the decisions and achievements of the parents to their children, the ‘second generation’, who travelled for free. It also considers the ongoing ramifications of the migration decision, as the parents age and pass on and their children, themselves, become parents and grandparents. It does so by utilising the recollections of a focus group of 31 British migrants, who travelled to Australia during this period. Eleven of these participants were parents at the time of migration, whilst the remaining interviewees were aged under eighteen. This thesis has a predominant focus upon Western Australia, for most of the participants originally disembarked in Fremantle. Today, all except two live in this state. The key child protagonists of the creative component are both British child migrants who immigrated to Western Australia with their families during the late 1960s. The novella, entitled The Red Pipe, is loosely based upon the author’s childhood experience of Cyclone Joan’s visit to Port Hedland in 1975. Joan was the most destructive cyclone to affect the Pilbara district in over thirty years. Over eighty-five per cent of the buildings were damaged and the town was left without power and communications for days. The author spent a harrowing night waiting out the storm with her family, narrowly escaping injury when the cyclone breached the family home. Utilizing the perspectives of two pivotal child protagonists, the novella traces the circumstances, severity and aftermath of Cyclone Joan upon the town and its culturally eclectic inhabitants. This little-known, yet significant incident in the history of Western Australia is set in a geographically significant port town, at a time before the mining boom. The ferocity of nature upon an ancient and isolated landscape provides the catalyst for the resultant exploration of the tenacity of childhood, set against the inherent fragility of the nuclear family unit and interwoven with the transient nature of the migrant condition.

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