Multiculturalism has been a reality for Australia since the first fleet. It was not until the mass migration into Australia after World War 2 however that our cultural diversity has become such a focal area for public policy. Today I will explore both the development of multiculturalism in Australia, with regards to immigrants, and some contemporary issues which have developed in recent years.
For the first 50 years of federation Australia was a monocultural society, its population consisting of 95% British and Irish ancestry. Britain was seen as our mother country and the majority of people were willing to keep it that way. It is due to this that most Australian citizens opposed non-white immigration, to preserve British culture and traditions as the dominant influence in Australia. Thus the "White Australia Policy" was developed, primarily allowing only white British and Irish settlers to migrate to Australia. Although the preference was for British and Irish migrants, a small percentage of other white Europeans were also accepted on the understanding that they shed their cultures and languages. This process was called "Assimilation". Assimilation was implemented so that all citizens would conform to the Australian way of life. The attitude of Charles Price exemplifies the climate into which migrants were entering during this period of time. "Australia should concentrate on eliminating immigrants' old ideas, on destroying the old worlds in the interest of a new Australia.".
Australia's monocultural society however did not withstand the certain problems it was facing after WW2. It was argued by many people that in the interest of national security, it was essential to rapidly increase Australia's population. Arthur Calwell, the minister for immigration at the time, stated; .
"Near invasion by Japan during the Second World War proved Australia's vulnerability and reinforced the traditional fear of the "yellow peril.