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I have had a number of inquiries in relation to researching soldier settlement. The following observations are based upon my experiences through undertaking Australian records research to gather the Soldier Settlement information on this web site.
Soldier Settlement was a collaboration between the Commonwealth and State governments. All State governments kept paper-based records, which can be accessed through your various State Archives. I believe that all States also had an Agricultural Bank of some sort which advanced development monies to settlers. All of these departments kept paper-based records. Records are often duplicated in different departments.
Australian Records Research Tips | Familial records.
In the State of Tasmania you can only access your own family's records. Modern privacy laws will now ensure that you can only do this. To become a Settler you had to apply and meet certain criteria. Typically an applicant had to list:
- their date and place of birth,
- marital status
- domestic address
- their education and pre war experience
- their name, rank, serial number, date and place of enlistment, unit/s, areas and length of service, demob' date, type of discharge, etc.
- post war experience
- assets at the time of application.
From this you will possibly discover a lot of information that you are unaware of.
Australian Records Research Tips | After Settlement:
When conducting your Australian records research you will probably discover that all applications for loans were very detailed, including assets sought, e.g., stock, plant, fencing materials, shedding etc., the proposed supplier and purchase price of the item/s. The proposed period for the loan repayment, frequency of payments etc. Written reports were submitted monthly for several years, particularly while receiving commonwealth support, listing additions to the family, stock, fencing, cultivation, pasture and water supply improvement, rabbit control, hay cut etc.. Most ex service people were used to no or little privacy, so what we may consider invasive didn't seem to worry them. This is very useful information for building an impression of seasonal conditions, and how your forebears struggled to get ahead.
Australian Records Research Tips | Settlement records:
Depending on the size of the Australian Settlement, there may be station records prior to settlers being balloted in.
Lawrenny for example had a manager, who possibly had staff to do a considerable amount of paper work....giving rise to great paper-based records of finances, production, development, purchase and sale of assets, workforce etc. The information is there, but it is up to you to implement Australian records research and go and find, and inspect it. Typically you need to contact the archive, explain what it is you want to see, and arrange for the files to be brought out of storage. This usually takes a few days. There is generally a reading area etc. for you to peruse the information at your own pace. Take whatever you think you will need to take records, e.g. pens, paper, money for photo copying etc..
Australian Records Research Tips | State government reports to respective Parliaments:
You will discover that the respective State governnments had created Settlement Boards. These Boards presented at least annual reports to Parliament. The reports are valuable sources of information for your Australian records research. The reports contain a lot of interesting reading, statistics and photographs, as evidenced in my site. You may also be able to discover reports for your State. Hopefully some of you may also publish them to the web, for the benefit of the wider community.
Australian Records Research Tips | Archives:
Arranged in a clockwise manner, no parochial contests entered into here.
There is also a Federal Archive:
The hidden benefits Returned Service people derived from Soldier Settlement
It appears that participating returned personnel all derived considerable support from each other, as they adjusted back into civilian life. A very interesting article on the adjustment difficulties faced by ex service personnel can be viewed here.
Speaking for myself in 2013...looking back, based on what I observed as a child and teenager....Soldier Settlement seems to have fulfilled that role for the settlers involved.
"There's nothing greater than someone just being able to understand. It's an unspoken truth between veterans," Williams says. "You don't have to say anything or do anything. They just know - they just know. And you feel safe again." Tom Williams, 2013, as reported by Konrad Marshall, 25/06/2013
Thankfully, the Gillard Government appears to have recognising that returned service people need a lot of help....so they can transition back into peace time society, and again lead a fulfilling and useful life.
Best wishes with your research and please let me know how you get on.
© Peter Mulcahy, March 2008.
Last updated Wednesday 26th June 2013
Coding made responsive Monday 7th January 2013