Fire manual issued by the General Manager of Commonwealth Hostels Limited in 1968. Issued to Hostel Managers, this manual provides instructions on how to deal with fires at the hostels. It sets out the types of fire extinguishing appliances installed, current arrangements with fire brigades in each state, procedures for dealing with fires, personnel for fire prevention and control at the hostels, training of hostel staff and instructions on how to use the equipment.
Hostel staff had to respond first-hand to fires until the arrival of the fire brigade. Fires were a particular problem at migrant hostels and there were cases of fires which resulted in death. The hostels were susceptible to fires due to the temporary and combustible building materials used, high numbers of vandals and unsupervised children, and migrants cooking inside huts and sleeping quarters, which was against the rules.
The Enterprise Migrant Hostel, in Springvale, operated from December 1969 until it was closed on 22 December 1992. Enterprise was managed by Commonwealth Hostels Limited (renamed Commonwealth Accommodation and Catering Services in 1978). Enterprise and other hostels were the first home for many new assisted migrants and refugees, upon arrival in Australia. Migrants were charged for their accommodation and meals according to their income or had their tariffs deducted from their social security benefit until they were able to secure employment. The hostels were designed to assist migrants in establishing a new life in Australia by providing a period of subsidised accommodation, while they secured work and found housing.
Book with red cover and printed black text.
Statement of Significance/ Technical significance:
The stories of migrants and the organizations that assisted them comprise a significant part of Australian post-war history. Since World War II, thousands of government-assisted migrants and refugees have experienced arrival and accommodation at the migrant hostels. Yet migrant hostels are an under-documented area of Australia's immigration history - with the exception of Bonegilla Migrant Reception Centre, which was managed by the Department of Immigration. This collection is significant as it contributes to filling the gap in knowledge about the Commonwealth migrant hostels, which were a function of the Department of Labour and National Service. This collection and the accompanying archival documents are a rare find. Items from the migrant hostels were often sold or disposed of by the government soon after they were closed-down. Many migrants have kept photos taken during their stay at the hostels but day-to-day items belonged to the Company and were returned to the hostel upon departure. This collection has the potential enhance collections in cultural institutions such the NSW Powerhouse Museum and Migration Heritage Centre (Villawood [Westbridge] and Cabramatta hostels).
Donation from Victor Sikich, July 2009
Place & Date Used
Inscription: 'Commonwealth Hostels Limited/ Fire Manual/ Fourth Edition/ Issued 1964.'
Type of item
220 mm (Width), 7 mm (Depth), 255 mm (Height)
This collection is also accompanied by a small archive consisting of company magazines, financial documents, and material relating to personnel and residents. 'A worthwhile Enterprise: the migrant hostel in Springvale', Exhibition Catalogue, Museum Victoria (2009); Powerhouse Museum website: [Link 1] Migration Heritage Centre website: [Link 2] ; Agency Notes for CA 1649 "Commonwealth Hostels Limited, Central Office", National Archives Australia: [Link 3]