Migrants were historically a minority group facing many disadvantages within Australia. In Australia, migrants were considered a hindrance, regardless of their positive contribution to a multicultural society.
In the 1800s, Australia was renowned for their racism towards migrants. This reputation was fuelled because of the Australian gold diggers, who hated Chinese gold miners because of their unfamiliar habits. In addition, the theory by Charles Darwin, that weaker species died, leaving the strong, dominant species to survive, suggested to Australians that white people were physically and mentally superior than any migrants. This era began known as the White Australia Policy as it maintained a white society within Australia, excluding migrants.
The Immigration Restriction Act 1901 (Cwlth) was the first law created by the new Commonwealth Parliament in order to prohibit the immigration of any person who did not pass the dictation test. These tests were unfair as they were able to be any language such as testing a Chinese migrant with French. This posed a major disadvantage for migrants to enter Australia, especially if they were of a Jewish, Middle Eastern, Asian or African descent.
Post-war migration began after the World War II, in which the migration policies established by the federal government were reconsidered. The desire for a larger population was needed in order to boost the economy and defence, and maintain foreign relations, which meant the removal of the White Australia policy. Immigration had resulted in the overseas born population to increase from 744 000 in 1947, to 4.3 million people in 1996.