The Real Ten Pound Poms

A few facts



Ten Pound Poms is a colloquial term used to describe British citizens who migrated to Australia and New Zealand after the Second World War.

The Government of Australia initiated the Assisted Passage Migration Scheme in 1945 and the Government of New Zealand initiated a similar scheme in July 1947. It formed part of the Australian “Populate or Perish” policy intended to substantially increase the population of Australia and to supply workers for the country’s booming industries.

The Ten Pound Poms scheme attracted more than a million migrants from the British Isles between 1945 and 1972. In 1957 more migrants were encouraged to travel following a campaign called “Bring Out a Briton”. The scheme reached its peak in 1969 when more than 80,000 migrants took advantage of the scheme.

Ten Pounds bought a six-week assisted passage on chartered ships and aircraft and the promise of good employment prospects, affordable housing, endless sunshine and a brand new, more optimistic life down under. “Your family will flourish in Australia.” However, on arrival, migrants were placed in basic migration hostels and the expected job opportunities were not always readily available.

The charge of £10 covered processing fees for migration whilst “youngsters under 19” travelled for free. Ten Pounds is the equivalent of some £350 today. In 1973 the cost was increased to £75 and the scheme ended in 1982.

Almost one million Brits emigrated to Australia and the scheme extended to residents of British colonies such as Malta and Cyprus, with schemes to assist selected migrants from the Netherlands, Italy, Greece and West Germany in the fifties.

Migrants were required to remain in Australia for two years or refund the cost of their assisted passage. The cost of a return journey to Britain was at least £120, some £4,200 in today’s money which most could not afford. An estimated quarter of British migrants returned to the UK within the first two years although half of these – the so-called “Boomerang Poms” – returned to Australia.

Before 1st December 1973 migrants from Commonwealth countries could apply for Australian citizenship after one year’s residency. That was then extended to three years, the requirements being place of residence, good character, knowledge of the language and rights and duties of citizenship and the intention to live permanently in Australia. However relatively few British migrants took up Australian citizenship.

The term “whinging poms” is a pejorative term for any Bris who complained about the conditions and heat, pom being short for pomegranate, alluding to the Brits’ ruddy complexions.

Well-known participants include:

Former Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard migrated with her family from Barry, Glamorgan, Wales in 1966 aged four. Her parents hoped the warmer climate would help cure her lung infection.

Kylie and Dannii Minogue, both born in Melbourne, are the daughters of Ten Pound Poms. Their parents - car company accountant Ronald Minogue and his wife Carole Ann, a former ballet dancer - moved to Australia in 1958 on the ship Fairsea. So Kylie and Dannii are of English and Welsh descent, although their surname is of Irish origin.

Also on board the ship Fairsea were the Gibb Family of later Bee Gees fame. They spent their first few years in Manchester then moved to Queensland where they began their musical careers.

Born in Sydney, actor Hugh Jackman (The Greatest Showman, Les Miserables) is the son of English parents (his father was an accountant) who moved to Australia in 1967 as part of the Ten Pound Poms immigration scheme.

Another Australian Prime Minister, Tony Abbott, migrated in 1960 under the scheme, although his father had already lived in Australia after arriving at the beginning of the Second World War and his mother was an Australian expatriate living in Britain at the time of his birth.


Ten Pound Poms will air weekly on BBC One from Sunday 14 May at 9pm.

All episodes will also be available on iPlayer immediately.

The six-part series is a co-production with Australian TV channel Stan, who will air the series in Australia.

Filming took place on location in Australia in 2022.

Source BBC One

May 5, 2023 4:00am ET by BBC One  


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