Document tabled in the Parliament of Victoria from the Immigration Agent in 1853 entitled 'Immigrants. Report from the Immigration Agent Relative to Public Institutions for General Immigrants'. The document includes reports outlining the number, extent and amount of accommodation erected with the aid of Public Funds for the provision of temporary immigrant shelter. The six accommodations documented are: the Government Houseless Immigrants' Home at Prince's Bridge; the Government Immigrants' Home at Batman's Hill; the Public Houseless Immigrants' Home at South Yarra; the Wesleyan Immigrants Home; the Immigrants' Aid Society; and the Family Colonization Society. The document provides statistics of those immigrants assisted over a three month period in 1853 and comments on the general good behaviour of those assisted. The Report includes statements of expenditure, outlines additions to buildings, changes in house regulations and such developments as the erecting of a temporary fever hospital at Canvas Town; and attaches Rules and By-laws for the Government Asylums for Houseless Immigrants in Batman Hill and South Yarra and the Princes Hill Institution.

Physical Description

Foolscap size, 16 page blue paper document, typed on all sides and spine sewn.


These documents illustrate the range of issues facing colonial immigration administrators such as immigrant selection, temporary accommodation and funding assisted passages. The paper on Immigrant Homes provides a fascinating insight into what accommodation was provided for homeless migrants in the immediate gold rush period, including a reference to Caroline Chisholm's Family Colonization Loan Society and a hospital established at Canvas Town. Reports relating to immigrant selection demonstrate issues of lack of agricultural and domestic workers - a perennial concern of colonial, state and federal governments - and perceived skills gaps in specialized agricultural pursuits. The Despatch relating to Chinese immigration to Western Australia, while not specifically about Victoria, does highlight the colonial anxiety regarding Chinese immigrants which led to the virtual banning of immigration from China in 1888.

This collection also shows the range of colonial and British agencies involved in immigration/emigration policy and administration, such as Colonial Land and Emigration Office and the Immigrant Agent in London and the Dept of Trade and Customs. In the nineteenth century immigration policy was controlled primarily by the British Parliament. Legislation such as the Passengers Act of 1855 attempted to establish uniform controls for migration throughout the British Empire and to ensure the safe passage of migrants. From the 1840s until the 1870s the British Colonial Land and Emigration Commission oversaw migration policy for the Empire. Immigration offices and agents in Great Britain and other countries worked at a local level to process applications and arrange voyages. Immigrants filled in application forms and attended interviews and under the British Passengers' Act of 1855 they also had to submit to physical inspections.

Colonial parliaments had a Printing Committee which decided which Parliamentary business would be printed. It was the law that printed documents were to be available from the Government Printer to the public for cost price . Typically, in the 1860s there would be a print run of around 560 copies and these were distributed to Parliamentarians, their Secretaries, the heads of relevant Departments and some Public Libraries/Mechanics Institutes. The remainder were held by the Government Printer for Public sale with the price often printed on the document. By the 1900s most documents & reports had a print run of around 800. Prior to the 1890s, most papers were printed on high 'rag' content paper which has ensured that they have usually survived in very good condition.

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