Immigration

Growing calls for recognition of migrants discriminated against by Australian governments

An SBS investigation has revealed the plight of "Unwanted Australians". Source: SBS

The Australian Council of Trade Unions, along with the main group representing migrant communities in Australia, has backed calls for official recognition of the treatment experienced by migrants accused of left leaning political sympathies after WWII.

Australian Council of Trade Unions president, Ged Kearney, has joined calls for migrants denied citizenship on political grounds after World War II to be recognised in the federal parliament.

A special SBS investigation found hundreds of migrants were adversely recorded by ASIO and refused citizenship on account of suspected or confirmed "communist activity".

Some - among them members of trade unions - were unable to become Australian citizens for decades.

They are calling on the federal government to recognise they were wrongly treated.

"There should be formal acknowledgment of the injustices that these men endured post-WWII," Ms Kearney said.

"Those injustices were based on unfair and inappropriate beliefs that because you belong to a certain political party or because you were even in a trade union you were not fit to be a citizen of this country.

"A public acknowledgment would go a long way to putting things right."

Declassified Immigration Department and ASIO documents from the period show no concern about criminal activity, purely the individuals' political beliefs.

Some of the affected migrants, who were naturalised when Labor came to power in 1972, have told SBS they want the federal government to acknowledge they were unfairly treated.

Former High Court judge Michael Kirby, and the Federation of Ethnic Communities' Councils of Australia (FECCA) have endorsed the migrants' calls for acknowledgment.

FECCA says it supports the call to acknowledge the unfair treatment of these post-WWII migrants as an important step in preventing similar injustice in the future.

It says pathways to citizenship are the foundation of successful settlement, belonging and acceptance in any society, and are highly valued by Australia's diverse communities.

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