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A Land of Milk and Honey and English Lessons

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.
Year of production - 1951
Duration - 1min 54sec
Tags - assimilation, Australian History, immigration, language, multiculturalism, see all tags


A Land of Milk and Honey and English Lessons

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About the Video Clip


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.

Background Information


After World War 2 the Australian Government brought a number of Europeans displaced by the war, knowns as DPs (Displaced Persons) to Australia. This was followed by a massive migration 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 migration had been focused on British people. This migration would have a major impact on the migrants’ 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 first generation Australian Europeans with mixed cultural values.

Classroom Activities

  1. The video clip:
    1. Describe what is shown in the video clip.
    2. What is the message of the video clip?
    3. Why do you think the background music is included? What sort of sentiment does it evoke?
    4. Does the video clip show any glimpses of social tensions or potential problems with the new immigration scheme? Give specific examples.
    5. Who is the audience for the video clip? How do you now?
    6. Why would such a film be needed at this time for this audience?
    7. From the film clip, what do you think is the purpose of the immigration policy of the time? Refer to specific examples form the film to support your response.
  2. Most immigrants at this time were people whose country had been ravaged by war. In Australia, a lot of immigrants came from Italy and Greece. What do you note about the cultural backgrounds of people shown in this clip? Why do you think this is so?
  3. The clip suggests that once the English language is acquired, success for the migrant will ensue. Do you think that there may be other obstacles for the newly arrived migrant to overcome? What could these be?
  4. 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. What viewpoint does this film clip promote? Give examples from the film to support your answer.

Further Resources


Go to: Immigration Museum