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The term White Australia Policy was widely used to encapsulate a set of historical policies that aimed to forbid people of non-European ethnic origin, especially Asians and Pacific Islanders from immigrating to Australia. Governments progressively dismantled such policies between 1949 and 1973.
See the fact file below for more information on the White Australia Policy or alternatively, you can download our 20-page White Australia Policy worksheet pack to utilise within the classroom or home environment.
Key Facts & Information
BACKSTORY OF THE WHITE AUSTRALIA POLICY
- Due to the discovery of gold in Australia in 1851, many immigrants flooded Australia in search of opportunities to get their hands on some.
- There was a lot of interest from Chinese workers, who accounted for approximately 50,000 of the immigrants seeking prosperity.
- Chinese success in the mines led to tensions between white miners and the Chinese, which eventually led to many protests and riots (including the Buckland Riot and the Lambing Flat Riots).
- By the late 1800s, after a Royal Commission on Victorian goldfields was conducted, a residency tax was levied on Chinese residents in Victoria until the 1870s.
- By the 1880s, Australia had gained a reputation as being “the working man’s paradise” due to high wages for prosperous skilled workers as well as progressive benefits due to unionization.
- As many other sectors in the Australian economy began to grow, workers from all around the South Pacific were recruited.
- In the 1870s and 1880s, even more legislation was enacted that continued to exclude Chinese immigration.
- In 1897, the Natal Act was introduced which restricted “undesirable persons” from entering the country, which didn’t specify race, but certainly discriminated against non-whites.
- Although the British government wasn’t happy with the legislation, they allowed it anyway.
HISTORY OF THE WHITE AUSTRALIA POLICY
- When Australia federated in 1901, the government thought it was necessary to create a national law to deal with immigration.
- Thus, on December 23, 1901, the Immigration Restriction Act came into law. It was specifically designed to limit non-British migration to Australia on the basis of the White Australia policy.
- The law did a few things:
- Allowed immigration officers a great deal of discretion to prevent people from entering Australia which gave them a lot of deciding power.
- Prohibited many different classes of people from immigrating.
- Provided for the deportation of illegal immigrants from Australia.
- Allowed for a dictation test (which required someone to write a passage of fifty words read to them in any European language) at the discretion of an immigration officer. This test was systematically skewed in that the language chosen was always one that the immigration officer knew the person seeking entry would fail.
- Entry by Pacific Islanders was prohibited as well by 1904.
- By the First World War, Australian support for the White Australia Policy was strong, and was helped further by the Paris Peace Conference in 1919-1920 when a racial-equality amendment to the League of Nations Covenant proposed by the Japanese was swiftly defeated.
- By around 1950, the policy became less strict; between 1947 and 1981 the number of people in Australia who were of non-European descent more than doubled, and at the turn of the 21st century, around 40% of
Australian immigrants were of Asian descent.
IMPACT OF THE WHITE AUSTRALIA POLICY
- The White Australia Policy had an impact almost immediately, changing the demographics of Australia in a big way.
- Between the Great Depression in 1929 and the end of the Second World War in 1945, immigration was low due to the turmoil going on during the time period.
- After the Fall of Singapore in 1942, refugees fled to Australia from surrounding territories, fearful of Japanese invasion.
- Although some Australian ministers fought to preserve the White Australia Policy and deport non-European refugees during and after World War II, the restrictions relaxed, and Australian policy began to shift towards
opening its doors to immigration for all races and ethnicities.
- Between 1947 and 1964, under a Labor Party and Liberal-Country Party, respectively, non-Europeans and Japanese war brides were permitted into the country, as well as students from Asian countries who wanted to study at Australian Universities.
- The Migration Act of 1938 abolished the dictation test and substituted a simpler system for entry into the country (which would later be replaced with a points-based system).
- It was in 1966 under Harold Holt (pictured left) and his Liberal Government that the White Australia Policy was dismantled, and foreign non-whites were given the right to become permanent residents and citizens after five years.
- Although immigration has increased substantially in Australia, its society is still rooted in the legacy of the policy in that it has limited the variety of religious influences.
White Australia Policy Worksheets
This is a fantastic bundle which includes everything you need to know about White Australia Policy across 20 in-depth pages. These are ready-to-use White Australia Policy worksheets that are perfect for teaching students about the term White Australia Policy which was widely used to encapsulate a set of historical policies that aimed to forbid people of non-European ethnic origin, especially Asians and Pacific Islanders from immigrating to Australia. Governments progressively dismantled such policies between 1949 and 1973.
Complete List Of Included Worksheets
- White Australia Policy Crossword
- Riot Comparison
- Newspaper Article
- Cartoon Analysis
- Impact on Japan
- Opinion Piece
- Contribution Collage
- White Australia Policy Wordsearch
- Country Comparison
- Australian Demographics
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Link will appear as White Australia Policy Facts & Worksheets: https://kidskonnect.com - KidsKonnect, June 27, 2019
Use With Any Curriculum
These worksheets have been specifically designed for use with any international curriculum. You can use these worksheets as-is, or edit them using Google Slides to make them more specific to your own student ability levels and curriculum standards.