2. White Australia Policy 1901-1947
3. Assimilationism 1947-mid 1960s
4. Integration mid 1960s-1972
5. Multiculturalism from 1972
6. John Howard and the Liberal Party
7. Current immigration schemes
8. The Humanitarian Program
This essay aims at explaining the changes in Australia’s immigration policy since 1945 and the reasons why governments have implemented major changes. The steps involved in Australia’s movement from the White Australia Policy towards multiculturalism will be examined chronologically.
In order to understand the importance of the changes after the Second Word War it is necessary to take a brief look at what policy had been in place until then.
From the day of the first settlement in Australia, the country has always been an immigrant society. With the exception of Indigenous Australians, everybody’s ancestors have emigrated from various destinations to live on the continent down under since 1788. Besides the German (largely in South Australia) and the Chinese minorities, a majority of them had British or Irish origin.
The first regulation implemented to secure who was – or rather who was not – to enter the country is known as the White Australia Policy. This policy had a tremendous effect on immigration in Australia. The roots of this policy go back to the 1850s, when Chinese immigrants working in the mines in Victoria and New South Wales were discriminated against and resented by the white population. This was largely due to racist theories like Social Darwinism and a fear of non-Europeans that was strong enough to lead to the Commonwealth Immigration Restriction Act of 1901. Although these words were never explicitly documented in the policy, it aimed at excluding non-European immigrants. This was achieved through the use of dictation tests in a European language usually unknown to the applicant and fining carriers giving passage to them.
Not only did the White Australia Policy mean that non-Europeans were not welcome in Australia, it also demonstrated an isolationist policy towards Australia’s geographical neighbours.
The phase from 1947 to the mid-1960s was known as assimilationism with a view to maintaining a British society by making newcomers become Australian in their culture, which was strongly assisted through the ‘Good Neighbour Councils’. The new immigrants had to adopt the English language, and settle and work amongst Australians in order not to form ethnic communities.
In 1945 Australia adopted its post-war immigration policy which was introduced by Australia’s first Minister for Immigration, Mr. Arthur Calwell. He believed it was essential to populate the country to achieve economic growth and prosperity, hence large-scale immigration was required to support the manufacturing sector and secure the means for military defence. Amongst Calwell’s promises when selling the new Labor immigration policy to the public was that “there would be 10 British immigrants for every ‘foreigner’”. In order to achieve a population increase of one per cent through immigration, the assisted passage scheme of 10£ was introduced to attract people from the British Isles to settle in Australia. It proved impossible to attract the desired amount of British migrants, so assisted passage was extended to other European nationalities after 1947. Also Displaced Persons living in camps in war-struck Europe received assistance to migrate to Australia as labourers. By 1954, a total number of 170 000 displaced persons had arrived.
 James Jupp, From White Australia to Woomera: The Story of Australian Immigration, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 2002, p.5.
 Department of Immigration & Multicultural & Indigenous Affairs, ‘Abolition of the ‘White Australia’ Policy’, Fact Sheet 8, Canberra, 6 November 2002,
<http://www.immi.gov.au/facts/08abolition.htm>, consulted 16 June 2003.
 James Jupp, ‘From ‘White Australia’ to ‘part of Asia’: Recent shifts in Australian immigration policy towards the region’, The International Migration Review, vol. 29, no. 1, 1995, pp. 207-208.
 James Jupp, ‘From ‘White Australia’ to ‘part of Asia’: Recent shifts in Australian immigration policy towards the region’, p.208.
 The phase of assimilationism is also dated for the whole period of the White Australia Policy as per 1901 by some authors, e.g.
James Jupp, ‘From ‘White Australia’ to ‘part of Asia’: Recent shifts in Australian immigration policy towards the region’, p.208.
& Multicultural Disability Advocacy Association, ‘Cultural Diversity’, Documents, <http:/www.mdaa.org.au/Cultural%20Diversity.html>, consulted 16 June 2003.
 Stephen S. Castles, ‘Australian Multiculturalism: Social Policy and Identity in a Changing Society’, p.184
 John Lack & Jacqueline Templeton, The Bold Experiment: A Documentary History of Australian Immigration since 1945, Oxford University Press, South Melbourne, 1995, pp.2-5.
 Stephen S. Castles, ‘Australian Multiculturalism: Social Policy and Identity in a Changing Society’ in Gary P. Freeman & James Jupp (eds.), Nation of Immigrants: Australia, the United States and International Migration, Oxford University Press, South Melbourne, 1992, p. 184.
 James Jupp, From White Australia to Woomera: The Story of Australian Immigration , pp.17-18.
 John Lack & Jacqueline Templeton, The Bold Experiment: A Documentary History of Australian Immigration since 1945, pp.8-11.
- Quote paper
- Anke Bartl (Author), 2003, In what ways, and for what reasons, have government (and community) attitudes to large-scale immigration changed during the course of the post-war period?, Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/16260