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The White Australia Policy Essay

1704 words - 7 pages

The White Australia policyThe White Australia policy was an immigration restriction policy introduced by the Australian government in 1901, implemented to severely restrict the migration of non-Europeans to Australia, with the desire to maintain Australia as a predominantly White British nation (Tavan, 2004). Non-White Europeans were viewed as innately inferior beings that were unable to co-exist with the ideals of the Anglo-Celtic way of life.From a sociological point of view, the implementation of the White Australia policy was Australia's way of protecting itself from a number of issues. As Australia was a fairly new country, it had a relatively small population and was at risk of being overrun, particularly by large population groups such as China (Sydney, 1986). During the gold rush, the influx of the Chinese threatened labour jobs as they would accept lower wages, which not only invoked a fear of competition for jobs, but also posed a threat to the ideal living standards in Australia (Sydney, 1986). Sydney stated "the Asiatic will tolerate surroundings which the Australian will not; therefore he must not be allowed to come in and depress the general average" (p. 104). Australia's democracy embraced a high standard of living that was contrary to other less developed countries, thus threatening Australia's desire to maintain its lifestyle and privileges that came with the Anglo-Celtic cultural identity (Hage, 2002). It was believed that these 'aliens' could not be assimilated into Australian life and it was best to not have them in the country at all. Out of these fears of being overrun and 'polluted' by less desired cultures, the White Australia policy was implemented and widely embraced by all Australians.It wasn't until after WWII that the policy came under scrutiny with the harsh treatment of wartime refugees being considered offensive and racist (Tavan, 2002). There was also a fear of a declining population within Australia and an industrial shortage of labour that forced the government to look at reviewing its immigration policy (Hage 2002). It was around this time that Australia began opening its borders to other non-white nationalities, though they were still considered less desirable.Government strategies to eradicate racism post-White Australia policyAfter WWII the White Australia policy slowly eroded. New governments brought with it reforms that were designed to decrease the racist attitude that had developed in Australia, though the undercurrents of the White Australia policy still resonated. More non-British immigrants were being accepted into the country, mostly from the Mediterranean and southern Europe. To incorporate these 'others' into society, new policies were introduced and reviewed over time. First they tried an assimilation policy, then when that wasn't working, an integrationist view was taken, which led to multiculturalism as we know it in Australia today.AssimilationThe settlement program for these newly accepted...

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