Movement of peoples Defining Moments, 1750–1901
Investigation 1: Migration experience starting points
1.1 The migrant experience: Convicts
The first convict migrants arrived in Sydney in 1788. Over the next 80 years about 160,000 convicts were transported to Australia.
What would determine whether they would lead successful or unsuccessful lives? Looking at the situation of convict migrants at around the midway point of convict transportation to Australia can give us some clues.
1. Who were the convicts?
2. What skills were needed in the new colony?
3. How did the attitudes and policies of successive governors affect them?
4. The convicts mostly came from Britain and Ireland where the climate was very different. How might the new Australian environment have affected them?
5. What were interactions between convicts and Aboriginal people like? How do you think this affected the convicts and Aboriginal people?
6. How did being part of a shared community help the convicts?
7. What were the greatest problems they faced?
8. What does this Defining Moment help you understand about the migration experience of this group?
9. Why was this Defining Moment so significant in Australian history?
10. If you were advising the National Museum of Australia on an object (primary source) that it could display to tell the story of this event and challenge and educate national and international visitors, what would you suggest? (You can see what objects they actually have using the National Museum of Australia collections search)
11. The curriculum area which you are studying here is titled: Making a better world? How do you think a convict transported to Australia might respond to this idea?
As an extension to this activity, research an individual convict and see what happened to him or her.