Group Settlement Scheme
The Group Settlement Scheme was a Government assisted migration scheme which operated in Western Australia from the early 1920s. It was an attempt by the British and Australian Governments to expand Western Australia’s population and economy. The aim was to create a labour force to develop large areas of farm land and reduce reliance on the Eastern States for food. Targeting British migrants also strengthened the ideals of the White Australia Policy and British cultural identity.
Settlers worked together in groups of 20 to establish dairy farms and were initially paid for their work. Later, each would take on a farm when it was ready for dairying. Advertisements enticed the British, eager for a fresh start following the aftermath of World War 1, with the prospect of “Profitable farming in Western Australia". On arrival they were allotted areas of land in areas around Northcliffe, Busselton and Manjimup that required back-breaking work to clear ready for farming.
By 1925 the Scheme ran into trouble. Only 2,442 farms out of the planned 6,000 were ever developed. The sandy soil on the allotted land was found to be poor quality and unsuitable for grazing or pastures. Many settlers left their farms and settled elsewhere. Some returned to the UK. By 1930 the Scheme was abandoned and was a social and financial failure for the State Government.
The farms which were successful became the beginnings of the dairy industry in the South West of Western Australia, which continues to flourish today.
- What were the Group Settlers expecting when they arrived in Western Australia and what was their reality upon arrival?
- What were the push factors and pull factors that may have influenced the decision for people to take the opportunity to migrate to Western Australia under this Scheme?
- How easy would it have been for the Group Settlers to acclimatise to their new working and living arrangements? What would have been different about their earlier life in the UK?
- Why was the scheme unsuccessful? Do you know of any other examples of the Government financially encouraging settlement to Western Australia?
- What impact would the establishment of Group Settlement have made on the traditional owners of the area?
- There was some success in dairy farming in the region because of the Group Settlement Scheme. What other forms of industry or agriculture proved successful in the South West of Western Australia over time?
You may wish to find out more about the Group Settlement Scheme. The following key words can help you find information:
returned soldiers scheme
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