Panel 1: A Migrant Hostel in Springvale
On 9th June 1967, the government announced that the Enterprise Migrant Hostel, housing up to 1000 assisted migrants, would be built at a cost of $4 million. It was officially opened on 29th October 1970, although the first residents did not move in until 24 December.
Enterprise was the first motel-style migrant hostel in Victoria. The provision of modern amenities and on-site services was aimed at attracting skilled migrants to Australia and facilitating their integration into the community. Each unit had a toilet and basin; however the showers were communal, which was difficult for some communities.
Enterprise provided migrants with a transition period, free from immediate concerns for shelter and food. It became a “bridge” between their previous lives and their new ones, through access to welfare, housing and employment services. The hostel was attractively landscaped and provided amenities such as a dining hall, milk bar, bank, recreation areas and child minding centre. The Catering, House and General Managers rented flats on site and shared the dining room with residents.
Enterprise was managed for the government by Commonwealth Hostels Ltd (CHL). This later became Commonwealth Accommodation and Catering Services (CACS). In 1982 much of the management transferred to the Department of Immigration and Ethnic Affairs.
The Enterprise Hostel changed the face of Springvale. In 23 years more than 30,000 people from 58 countries lived there, and many settled in the area. Enterprise was a place where both government and the community developed new ways to make migrants feel at home, ways that recognised the value of cultural diversity.
"If Australia is to continue to attract and retain suitable migrants, the standard of transitory accommodation must be improved." - Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works, 1966
“We were all ready for the first arrivals. We had been told they were from the UK. When the bus pulled up and the door opened we discovered that everyone was from (the then) Yugoslavia!” - Sally Knight, hostel worker
“It was just wonderful. It was so new there was still sawdust on the window sills.” - Evelyn Eadie, resident who had been transferred from Holmsglen
“It looked so new, so clean, it smelled so nice, everyone looked neat.” - Seda Douglas, Cambodian resident
“A place of comfort, a sense of dignity.” - Tony Medina, Chilean resident
“It was a relief to be in a safe place where everything was possible.” - Lucy Cheng, a Vietnamese resident
"A strange place …luxury and big….but I felt safe." - Hue Tran, Vietnam
“The room was not big, but it was paradise for us”. - Hieng Ung, Vietnamese resident
Top: One of the main accommodation wings; Left & Right: Interior of unit which also contained a handbasin and toilet. Showers were communal.