New website launched to explore the full healthy life in Australia for migrants from the UK and Europe

Between 1945 and 1975 some three million migrants and refugees arrived in Australia from Britain and Europe. Chosen to be young, strong and healthy workers, they were expected to rapidly integrate and ‘become good Australians by adoption’.

A project by Dr Eureka Henrich, a Wellcome Trust Research Fellow in the University’s School of History, Politics and International Relations questions the role health played in this huge social experiment and how images of a healthy environment in brochures and films shaped migrants’ expectations.

A new website called ‘Migration, Health and Wellbeing: Past & Present’, funded by the Wellcome Trust through a provision for public engagement, aims to enhance understandings of post-war Australia and to contribute to the international study of the links between health and migration.

The website includes a virtual exhibition, ‘A Full Healthy Life? Migration and Health in Post-War Australia’ which brings together 12 objects from Australian museum collections including the National Museum of Australia, the Migration Museum in Adelaide, and Museum Victoria.

The 12 objects featured reveal individual experiences of negotiating cultural, administrative and linguistic hurdles in order to maintain the health and wellbeing of migrants and their families. Together they tell a story about post-war change, and challenge the rosy picture of a ‘full healthy life’ enjoyed by all.

The objects include a child’s doll used to carry seeds between Australia and Italy, a pedal-driven dental drill which arrived with its owner via Latvia and the displaced persons camps in Germany, a jar of Zwitsal Zalf Baby Ointment brought by a Dutch woman who was pregnant on the ship voyage, and a poster produced in England to promote the ten pound assisted passage scheme.

There is also an opportunity for members of the public to submit their own stories of migration and health or that of their families on the ‘Your Stories’ page via the website.