Remembering Benalla migrant camp

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6 Citations (Scopus)


The former migrant camp at Benalla (1949–1967) is one of the least publicly remembered of twenty-three similar centres which provided temporary housing for non-British arrivals in post-war Australia. One of Benalla’s keenest observers saw it as ‘a sad and tragic camp where widows and single mothers were sent’. Another claimed that, as a consequence, it had ‘peculiar difficulties’. The camp ended miserably with the forced relocation of several widows and their families who had been resident in Benalla’s ‘short-term accommodation’ ever since their arrival in Australia seventeen years before. Migrant camps, like Benalla, are difficult heritage places. They raise embarrassing questions about discrimination against the non-British, family separation, forced movement and the inadequacy of support services for the most vulnerable. Benalla has hitherto seen no grand camp reunion, plaque, memorial, public history or heritage listing which raises questions about the perceptions and experiences of the facility while it operated and broader questions about remembering and heritage-making. Benalla was a unique migrant centre and as such provides rare insight into the place of single refugee women and their children within the frames of national/state, local and migrant family heritage.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)575-596
Number of pages23
JournalHistory of the Family
Issue number4
Early online date10 Feb 2017
Publication statusPublished - 2017


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