Identification badge

c. 1973

Donated by Janet Reynolds

Museum of Australian Democracy collection

After the Second World War the Australian Government operated an assisted migration scheme for people from the United Kingdom. Known colloquially as the ‘Ten Pound Pom’ scheme, it grew from the ‘Populate or Perish’ policy developed by the Curtin government. Its aim was to substantially increase the population of Australia in response to security concerns, and to harness unrealised economic potential.

Adult migrants paid £10 for their passage to Australia, while children travelled for free. Migrants were attracted by job prospects, a more relaxed lifestyle and better climate. As a child Prime Minister Julia Gillard and her family migrated to Australia under the scheme, arriving in 1966.

The donor of this badge, Janet Reynolds, writes:

This badge has an historical place in my family’s personal history. We were told to wear it during transit from England to Australia in 1973 when we were ‘10 pound pommie migrants’. It had quite an emotional impact, as it conveyed a message we were taking a huge journey into mostly unknown territory … This badge was the first symbol of my new identity. I also felt a little undignified, as no one explained to us why we had to wear it. I still don’t know.

This badge is a constant reminder that wearing the badge was the beginning of a new era. What is the significance of this badge? When did migrants start wearing it and when did they stop? My husband and I can’t recall who manufactured the badge. We believe it must have arrived with the airline tickets from the Department of Immigration. We were requested to wear the badges on the flight from London to Sydney.