The full history of Benalla Migrant Camp will be researched and recorded by Charles Sturt University historian Bruce Pennay.MONIQUE FREER August 1, 2014 3:37am
Benalla Historical Society researchers Maree Hanlon and Alan Monger, Charles Sturt University Bonegilla historian Bruce Pennay, Benalla Migrant Camp Photographic Exhibition founder Sabine Smyth and Benalla Historical Society researcher Judy Barry.
The full history of Benalla Migrant Camp will be researched and documented by a skilled historian and local researchers.
Charles Sturt University’s Bonegilla historian Bruce Pennay has agreed to write a report about the history of Benalla’s migrant camp, to be used by the Benalla Migrant Camp Photographic Exhibition founders in the production of a book and exhibition.
Benalla Migrant Camp Photographic Exhibition founder Sabine Smyth made contact with Dr Pennay after hearing him speak at an exhibition launch.
‘‘With his extensive experience and as an author of many things about Bonegilla, he brings knowledge and expertise to the project,’’ Ms Smyth said.
‘‘This will help us in future, to draw on his historic research with some authority as we continue to build an exhibition.’’
The report will be a thematic history, drawing on key themes that emerge from the research.
Ms Smyth said she was interested in 26 key themes, including the official opening of the camp by Arthur Calwell, trouble during the early camp years and why police were often there on the weekends, the cost of living at the camp, the Queen’s visit and important people and community leaders in the camp.
Benalla Migrant Camp was one of the longest-serving holding centres for migrants after World War II.
‘‘The interesting thing about Benalla was that it was for women who had no man supporting them,’’ Dr Pennay said.
‘‘It was for widows, single mothers or deserted wives .
‘‘They were in all kinds of jobs, they didn’t pay very high and they had a difficult introduction to Australia.
‘‘If you want to know how women and children fared post-war, Benalla is a good place to start.’’
The report is being compiled with the help of researchers from Benalla Historical Society, who are donating many hours of their time to search through copies of the Benalla Ensign and Benalla Standard from 1949 to 1967.
‘‘We would like to contribute to it because it’s important to the historical society and to the Benalla community,’’ Maree Hanlon said.
‘‘We are researching everything to do with the migrant centre, and then the information will be in Bruce’s hands.
‘‘It benefits the historic society and then in turn the Benalla community, because it will be on file for everyone.’’
The report is expected to take 12 months to complete and is being funded from sponsorship and donations to the Benalla Migrant Camp Photographic Exhibition.
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