Group Settlement Scheme

The Pascoe family in front of their maize crop

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 its 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.

Focus Questions

Key words

You may wish to find out more about the Group Settlement Scheme. The following key words can help you find information:

Government scheme

returned soldiers scheme

acclimatise

group settlement

migration

incentive

Websites

The following websites can help you with reliable information:

State Library of Western Australia

Trove

WA Now and Then - Group Settlement

Australian food history timeline - Group Settlement Scheme in WA

Margaret River Historical Society - Group Settlement

Boring trees for blasting

Settlers in front of a bush hut

A settler's first home on the group

Empire Migration

Group Settlement Cottages

Profitable farming in Western Australia

Group Settlement Glimpses

Showing how to make the money go

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