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Our History

Welcome to the department's historical web pages. On these pages you will find a range of interesting articles, video clips, photos and memorabilia about the department, its history and staff—past and present.

The Department of Immigration was formally established on 13 July 1945 by then-Prime Minister Ben Chifley. Since that time, the department has played a significant role in shaping Australia through citizenship, and permanent and temporary migration.

Celebrating 65 Years of Nation Building

The Department of Immigration and Citizenship celebrated its 65th anniversary on 13 July 2010. The year was marked by the inaugural address by Professor Ian Chubb AC, who paid tribute to the department's nation building role through immigration. The Secretary of the department, Mr Andrew Metcalfe also recognised this significant milestone in a special presentation highlighting the department's achievements throughout the past 65 years.

The Immigration Journey

Information on the establishment, functions and responsibilities of the department.

Immigration Timeline

Highlights, achievements and significant events in the history of the department by decade.


Articles written by the former Secretary, Andrew Metcalfe: Administration of Immigration – Past, Present and Future (2010), and Sir Peter Heydon: Co-operative Administration in Immigration (1965).

Immigration Videos

A unique collection of videos including advertisements and newsreels from the 1940s and interviews with former staff members recollecting the department's work following the Second World War.

Photo Gallery

A series of photographs depicting the story of immigration following the establishment of the Department of Immigration in 1945.


A collection of historical immigration publications.

What's in a Name?

A list of the names the department has been given since it was established in 1945, highlighting how the department's functions and responsibilities have changed throughout the years.

The Library History Project

A digital record of documents held in the Department's library.

Former Ministers, Parliamentary Secretaries and Secretaries

Learn more about the department's former ministers, parliamentary secretaries and secretaries.