Friday, April 10, 2015

The Victorian Soldier Settlement Scheme 1917-1935

The Public Records Office of Victoria have digitised selected documents from Victorian Government files kept on returned World War One soldiers who were approved to lease a block of farming land in Victoria. They were known as soldier settlers.
Victoria sent about 90,000 men and women to serve overseas in the First World War, about 70,000 of whom survived to return home. As the war continued, the issue of repatriating returning soldiers became increasingly urgent.  As well as providing War pensions and other financial assistance, State governments of the time set up ‘settlement’ schemes to support returning soldiers with work. These schemes involved subdividing large rural estates into smaller farming blocks and leasing them back to discharged service-people.  Reports from the time indicated there were around 11,000 farms created, although it seems likely this figure includes successful applicants to the scheme who did not end up going on to the land.  Returned service people and their families moved on to the land from the first mass demobilisations right up until the 1930s, although the majority of blocks were granted in the early 1920s.
The records you may see include:
  • Applications for a Qualification Certificate
  • Applications to lease particular blocks of land
  • Lease documents (called Selection Leases or Conditional Purchase Leases)
  • Lease transfer and cancellation documents
You can search for government records about soldier settlement files on this website by soldier name, or click on the embedded map and select individuals based on their geographic location.

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