Between the late 19th and the middle of the 20th century, the Australian government established a number of legislation and initiatives known as the “White Australia Policy.” These regulations were developed in order to keep Australia’s population primarily white and to limit immigration of non-white people. Based on the idea that white people were superior to non-white people, the policy was designed to exclude people from Asia and the Pacific Islands.
The Immigration Restriction Act of 1901, which was introduced in the late 19th century, marked the beginning of the White Australia Policy. This law created a dictation test that could be used to screen out non-white immigrants and could be given in any language spoken in Europe. With the advent of new immigration rules that further restricted non-white immigration, the strategy was tightened in the 1920s and 1930s.
In the middle of the 20th century, the White Australia Policy was gradually abandoned. After the dictation test was eliminated in 1958, the government started to loosen its limits on non-white immigration. When the Migration Act was passed in 1973, all racial discrimination in Australia’s immigration rules was formally eliminated.
It should be highlighted that even after the White Australia Policy was formally abolished, its impacts were still seen. Immigrants who were non-white suffered prejudice and marginalisation as a result of the policy, which had a profound influence on their life. Additionally, the policy had a long-lasting impact on Australia’s demography, with the country’s population continuing to be predominately white for many years after it was repealed.
The government has expressed regret for the White Australia Policy’s effects on non-white immigrants and their offspring in recent years. The government has also put measures into place to support diversity and inclusion as well as to identify and correct historical injustices.
Commonly Asked Questions
What was the White Australia Policy?
The White Australia Policy was a series of laws and regulations the Australian government put in place between 1901 and 1973. The policy aimed to restrict non-white immigration to Australia and promote a homogeneous, white Australian population.
When was the White Australia Policy abolished?
The White Australia Policy was officially abolished in 1973 with the passing of the Racial Discrimination Act, which made it illegal to discriminate based on race, ethnicity, or national origin in any aspect of Australian life.
Why was the White Australia Policy created?
The White Australia Policy was created in response to fears of a “Yellow Peril” – the idea that non-white immigrants would overwhelm the predominantly white population of Australia and threaten its cultural and economic sovereignty. Additionally, the policy was rooted in the belief in racial superiority and the desire to maintain a white, Anglo-Saxon identity for Australia.
Did the White Australia Policy have any exceptions?
Yes, the White Australia Policy did have exceptions for certain groups of people, such as British subjects and those of European descent. However, people from Asian, African, and Pacific Islander countries were largely excluded from immigrating to Australia under the policy.
What impact did the White Australia Policy have on Australian society?
The White Australia Policy profoundly impacted Australian society, shaping its demographics and cultural identity. The policy contributed to a lack of diversity in the Australian population and created a culture of exclusion and discrimination towards non-white Australians. It also had long-lasting effects on the relationship between Australia and its neighbouring countries in the Asia-Pacific region.