A beloved toy koala.
This toy koala was given to Scottish six-year-old Isobel Saxelby by Immigration Minister Arthur Calwell on her arrival in Australia in 1949. It’s not every day that you can link koalas and democracy, but this very special toy provides an insight into changing government attitudes and policies. Isobel’s family was part of the Assisted Passage Migration Scheme, also known as the ‘Ten-Pound Poms’, and Isobel was identified as the 100,000th post-war British migrant.
The koala, a toy loved by millions of Australian children, demonstrates the government’s desire for these ‘new Australians’ to both feel comfortable in their new homeland and to integrate into Australian society for the greater good of all.
Isobel made her life in country Victoria. She kept her koala, whom she called ‘Kookie’, for almost 70 years before donating it to the Museum of Australian Democracy.