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Funding to digitise 'Bonegilla cards'

30 Apr, 2021

Pictured, Minister Mary-Anne Thomas, resident Doina Eitler and Dr Bruce Pennay with a copy of Mrs Eitler's Bonegilla card.

Works at Bonegilla Migrant Experience will allow more visitors to connect with the country’s migrant history.

Minister for Regional Development Mary-Anne Thomas today visited the former Bonegilla Migrant Reception and Training Centre to see redevelopment works at this nationally significant destination and formally announce a grant of $800,000 through the  Victorian Government's Regional Tourism Investment Fund – Stimulus Round.

“We are proud to be funding a project of national significance that will allow future generations to learn about the history of the Bonegilla Migrant Centre and our nation’s migrant heritage, while creating more jobs in the region," Minister Thomas said.

The Bonegilla Identity Project will see the digitisation of the Bonegilla ID cards, part of 225,669 individual Bonegilla records and items held by the National Archives Australia.

The upgrade will ensure the preservation of records for migrants who passed through Bonegilla after World War II.

The project will provide families, visitors, historians and students with access to this important piece of Australia’s history.

Dr Bruce Pennay, who has written many books on the Bonegilla centre, said the site was not only a nationally signficant site, but also a public remembering place.

"People come here, as pilgrims, to try and put themselves and their families in an historical context," Dr Pennay said.

"These cards are a link to the past which is very important."

Funding will also contribute to the design and installation of a permanent exhibition, which will provide a curated interpretation of Australia’s post-war migration story.

The Bonegilla Identity Project is expected to draw thousands of visitors to the site that already welcomes more than 11,500 visitors annually.

The Bonegilla Migrant Experience is open Saturdays to Mondays from 10am to 4pm.

Find out more at bonegilla.org.au