The diversity of origins of Australians has made Australia to be one of the countries that adopt multiculturalism. The migration to Australia happened since centuries ago and still continues until the present. Up until the 1960's, Australia was defined as a White Nation. The dominant national culture was defined in Anglo-Celtic terms and all other cultures were excluded from its self image. .
There are three main phases in the evolution of Australia's public policies on immigration and related migrant settlement and cultural diversity issues, referred to as assimilation, integration and multiculturalism.
When Australia was made into a federation, it needed more people to develop the land. When gold was discovered in the Gold Rush period, people from all parts of the world were attracted like magnet by the promise of wealth that they could discover in Australia. Due to racial attitudes and economic factors, the influx of Asians and coloured people into Australia society was feared and therefore brought in policies to limit and restrict such people from entering.
From 1901 to the mid-1960s was the assimilation period. Assimilation drew its underlying principle from the Immigration Restriction Act of 1901. While the preference at that time was for British migrants, others were accepted on the understanding that they should shed their cultures and languages and be assimilated into the host population so that they would rapidly become indistinguishable from it. The policy effectively excluded non-European immigration as in 1905 a dictation test was introduced given the reason it was to ensure people had a suitable level of education. The test was given to people who were seen as "unsuitable" and it required the migrant to write down a fifty word passage dictated in any obscure European language. The policy could not withstand the attitudinal changes after World War II, and the growing acknowledgment of Australia's responsibilities as a member of the international community.