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Memento : Issue 28
Summer--Autumn 2005 MEMENTO 17 take both land-based aircraft and flying boats. During this period as many as 57 aircraft arrived in Broome on any one day and 7,000--8,000 passengers passed through the base in a fortnight. Broome was not, however, a safe haven. On 3 March 1942, nine Japanese Zero fighter planes attacked a squadron of 15 flying boats in Roebuck Bay. Fourteen of the boats were crammed with Dutch women and children who had fled Java the night before and were waiting to refuel before going on to their final destination. Those who died in the attack are buried at Karrakatta Cemetery in Western Australia. On 19 January 1942, the Netherlands East Indies and Australian governments reached an agreement that all financial responsibilities for Dutch women and children evacuated to Australia would fall on the Netherlands East Indies Administration. After this, evacuations started in earnest. During this period the Netherlands East Indies became the only foreign government in exile on Australian soil. Towards the end of the war, however, the relationship between the two governments shifted from amicable to antagonistic when Australian waterside workers unions and the Communist Party supported the Indonesian Nationalist Movement by boycotting Dutch shipping in 1944--45. In the years following WW II, the federal government began to actively recruit European-born migrants to reverse population stagnation, overcome crucial labour shortages and maintain the war- boosted economy. Between 1951 and 1970, about 160,000 Dutch nationals migrated to Australia, enticed by passage assistance and images of wealth unheard of in the postwar Netherlands -- booming industry, boundless opportunity, full employment, good working conditions, a home of one's own, whitegoods and a motor vehicle. All that was required of prospective emigrants was that they meet health, security, and age criteria (opposite) Two Dutch families with their 20 children arrive in Melbourne aboard the Fairsea in 1955. Simonis family (left) and Vesteegens family (right). NAA: 12111, 55/4/113 (left) In 1958, Australia's 100,000th migrant, Mrs Adriana Zevenbergen arrived in Melbourne aboard the Johan van Oldenbarnevelt with her husband, Cornelis, and their two sons. NAA: A12111, 58/4/80 and remain in the employment for which they were selected for a period of two years or agree to repay their fare. Unlike arrangements made with other governments, where migrants paid a flat rate of £10 each, the amount a Dutch migrant paid depended on their earning capacity at the time. Many Dutch migrants had to pay a significant amount of money and consequently arrived at their destination virtually destitute, with only landing money and a small packing crate of household possessions. Few had the collateral to secure bank loans to help establish themselves. Their plight was exacerbated by Australia's building material and labour shortage which forced larger families to start their new life at one of the Department of Immigration Accommodation Centres. Many Dutch women recall feeling especially overwhelmed by the transition from a well-appointed cabin aboard the Johan van Oldenbarnevelt or the Himalaya to a bare cubicle in one of the accommodation centres scattered around the country. Housing was particularly problematic for larger families. These families had to make tents or old tram carriages gezellig, or homely, until they could afford a deposit on a second-hand house or a block of land. After work or school and on weekends, the whole family was expected to clean old bricks or make new bricks from their meagre cement allocation. When the family had enough bricks to build a garage or the back verandah of their future home, they then had to find innovative ways to cram many bodies into the smallest of spaces. Aanpassen, or 'fitting in' was a distinctive aspect of Dutch resettlement. In public, most Dutch people seemed willing to get rid of, or at least cover up, any social characteristics defined as 'ethnic' by Australians. Anglo-conformity became the hallmark of Dutch identity in Australia. These assimilation patterns made the Dutch somewhat 'invisible' and saw them labelled 'model migrants'. Today, due to natural attrition and return migration, there are close to 95,000 residents in Australia who were born in the Netherlands. A further 240,000 Australians claim Dutch ancestry. Over the last 50 years, the Dutch have had a huge impact on the building and construction industry in Australia and have contributed significantly to the scientific, artistic and economic develop- ment of the country they now call home. [ Many Dutch women recall feeling especially overwhelmed by the transition from a well-appointed cabin aboard the Johan van Oldenbarnevelt or the Himalaya to a bare cubicle in one of the accommodation centres scattered around the country. ]