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Video Clip Synopsis:
Australia needs new migrants to populate the country and build a more prosperous nation. English lessons are available everywhere, including through correspondence and radio courses.

1min 54sec

A Land of Milk and Honey and English Lessons is an excerpt from the film Migrants Learn to Be Australian Citizens (3 mins), a segment from the series Australian Diary, produced in 1951.

Migrants Learn to Be Australian Citizens: A short film designed to tell Australians how new migrants are adapting to life in Australia, with a particular emphasis on English language education and the importance of migrant labour to the ongoing development of the nation.

Australian Diary: Filmed between 1947 and 1970, the Australian Diary series records how Australians have lived, worked and played over the years. Each of these short black-and-white films provides a snapshot of Australian life at the time, from rural areas and small towns to capital cities. Informative, entertaining and often amusing, the subjects range from serious to quirky and cover everything from innovations in agriculture, industry and science to sport, art, education, fashion, flora and fauna. There are a total of 136 diaries with 440 individual stories, providing a picture of a proud, diverse, idiosyncratic and constantly changing nation.

Australian Diary is a National Film Board Production. Produced by the Department of the Interior.

Study Module

Curriculum Focus: SOSE/HSIE
Year: 9-10
Theme: Immigration & Work

Key Concepts

Language; Multiculturalism; Assimilation; ‘New Australian’

Curriculum Applicability Notes

ACT:Time, continuity and change
NSW:Level 5 History Topic 8
NT:Social systems and structure, 5.4
Qld:9/10 History – TCC6.3
SA:Time, continuity and change, 5.3
Society and culture, 5.7
Tas:Communicating—Being literate, Standard 5
Social responsibility—Building social capital, Standard 5
Personal futures—Maintaining wellbeing, Standard 5
Vic:History 6.6 ext
WA:Time, continuity and change; Culture

Context / Background Information

After World War 2 the Australian Government brought a number of Europeans displaced by the war, known as DP’s, to Australia. This was followed by a massive immigration scheme which brought more southern, eastern, and western Europeans to Australia. Most of the European migrants could not speak English.

This influx of migrants was almost a social revolution in Australia, as most previous mass immigration had been focused on British people. This immigration would have a major impact on the immigrants’ lives, but also on Australia. Australian cultural life changed dramatically over time. These new Australians rose to the challenge of starting life again in a new land. They raised their families here. Their children are second generation Australian Europeans with mixed cultural values.

Discussion Pointers

  1. Describe what is shown in the video clip.
  2. What is the message of the video clip?
  3. Does the video clip show any glimpses of social tensions or potential problems with the new immigration scheme? Give specific examples.
  4. Who is the audience for the video clip? How do you now?
  5. Why would such a film be needed at this time for this audience?

Suggested Classroom Activities

  1. The video clip suggests that learning the language of the new society is a responsibility of a migrant. Do you agree? What other responsibilities does a migrant have?
  2. There have been two broad philosophies about immigration in Australia since 1945. One philosophy is based on the idea of assimilation, that it is the obligation of the migrant to meld into the new society as quickly as possible. The other is based on multiculturalism, the idea that it is desirable that the ethnic culture, language and traditions of the migrants be preserved and even encouraged within the new society. Prepare a case for one of these viewpoints. Then after each case has been presented in class, decide which you support, or, if you support neither fully, what your view is of the rights and responsibilities that the new migrant has towards the new culture, and the old.

Modules That Use This Clip

English Year 7-8, SOSE/HSIE Year 9-10, English Year 11-12