Australia had been occupied by about 250 languages speaking indigenous Australian for more than 40 000 years before the European settlement in the late 18th century. The indigenous Australians were mainly hunters and gathers who deeply believed in the spiritual values based on reverences for the land and in the dreamtime. The European settlement interfered a lot with the indigenous people’s way of life. Currently the indigenous Australians make less than ten percent of the total population (Institute of Public Affairs, 2006). One of the reasons behind the massive reduction in population of the indigenous Australian population is the introduction of the White Australian Policy by the Europeans immigrants.
The White Australia Policy was put in place by the then majority and governing European immigrants with an aim of establishing a white-European only Australia. The policy itself entailed numerous historical regulations that purposefully restricted the "non-white" immigration to Australia between the years 1901 and 1973 (Wendy, Balderstone & Bowan 2006). This was to be achieved by eliminating the non-white indigenous Australians and locking out any non-European immigrants seeking to settle in Australia. This was triggered by the European immigrant fear of mixing with the rest of the world because they felt superior to all the other groups of human beings. The competition in the goldfields between the indigenous and the white settlers also resulted in racial discrimination policies leading to the enactment of the Immigration Restriction Act of the 1901, which was the genesis of the White Australia Policy. The policy generated a lot of dissatisfaction from human right groups and other justice watch groups. As a result the Australian government bowed to the pressure and relaxed the policy in 1950. But the policy was officially abolished in the year 1973 when the then government passed the Racial Discrimination Act; (O’Halloran, McGregory & Simon, 2008). However, its negative effects on the economy, social, education, employment and the criminal justice systems were adverse that they are still being experienced today.
The White Australia Policy had a negative effect on the Australia’s economic progress. This is because the European immigrants exclusively ran the majority of the economic activities thus denying the indigenous Australians and migrants from other places a chance to add their input in the economic growth. As a result the positive ideas and better expertise from the non-European immigrants were locked out. Consequently, the Australia’s economy missed the chance of applying better ways of performing economic affairs, which would have been introduced by the non-European immigrants.
The White Australia Policy dealt a big blow to the non-European’s patriotism. This is because they felt discriminated and unwanted. As a result the non-Europeans did not participate whole heartedly in economic activities which would result to the European migrants gaining. Consequently, the economic growth progressed in a slower rate than it would have done if everybody in Australia felt patriotic and wanted.
The implementation of the White Australia Policy further alienated Australia from potential trade partners who would have improved the economic performance by enlarging the market and source of materials. This s mainly because the other non European countries did not have a good relationship with Australia due to the White Australia Policy. As a result Australia only traded with European countries thus denying the Australian people a chance to trade with other non-European countries (Windschuttle, 2004).
The White Australia Policy was instrumental in alienating the non-Europeans who lived in Australia. As a result the areas where non-Europeans lived were neglected by the governments leading to badly decapitated road networks, poor infrastructure and general poverty amongst the non Europeans in Australia. This came to economically haunt Australia in the 1960s and 1970s after the policy was abolished. This is because the government had to use a lot of resources to bring the neglected places at par with the rest of Australia. The resources spent would have been channeled to other development projects if the neglected areas were developed alongside the rest of Australia (Institute of Public Affairs, 2006).
The White Australia Policy was meant to eradicate the indigenous Australians so that the society could remain with purely whites inhabited. The government had the control over the indigenous Australian’s employment, sexual behaviors, education, social restrictions and cultural denial. Amongst the groups who were severely affected by the white policy includes the aboriginals who were amongst the indigenous Australian people (Westerman, 2011).The policy denied the aborigines the basic rights which were only enjoyed by dominant European immigrants. The aboriginals were viewed as lesser people and hence the policies and practices were drafted in a manner that the white European immigrants came first and then the rest of the Australians came later. To date the aboriginals are still fighting for their place in Australia.
This policy had a devastating effect on the family and social fabric in the Australian population. Australia Policy as perpetuated by the government had the power to take the light skinned children from their blood parents with the excuse of that they were saving them from the native’s un-civilization. White children born by the native Australians were adopted by white families so that they could grow up in the white culture. The children were assumed to be a property of the state and hence were placed with white families to be educated using the European immigrant’s curriculum and learn Christianity. The children from tribal marriages were considered as illegitimate and morally dangerous. The policy was considered social genocide because many families were broken due to the separations from the real families (Australia Human Right Commission, 2001).
The indigenous Australians were also denied access to education thus their children had to rely on missionaries to teach them how to write and read. This resulted in the indigenous Australians lacking any skills or knowledge, which would have helped them improve their chances of getting employed in the white European migrant dominated society. The few indigenous schools, which were established, by missionaries and some brave and a little educated indigenous Australians only gave few technical lessons. Hence the uneducated Australians resulted to social evils like crime and prostitution a norm which continues being practiced even in the current Australia. (Australian Policy, 2011).
The White Australia Policy categorized the indigenous Australians as people who were not entitled to meaningful employment. Thus, the government made it difficult for an indigenous Australian to get employed. The government imposed rules which stated that an indigenous Australian had to get a permit from the chief protector before being employed. The wages they received from such employment was also kept and controlled by the protector. Hence, the employees had to seek permission to use their money even on personal items.
Another area where the White Australian Policy affected is the justice system. The indigenous Australians had their own cultural practices and methods of solving disputes. However, with the dominance of the European migrants most of the cultural practices were overlooked by the government’s rules and regulations. This resulted in conflicts and disagreements between the indigenous people and the government. Nevertheless, because the government had more powers than the indigenous people did, any indigenous Australian found breaking the government’s rule was punished twice the set punishment. This meant that the indigenous Australians were forced to abandon their normal ways of living and adopt the immigrant’s rules (Braithwaite & Gatens & Mitchell, 2011).
The policy contributed to the high displacement of people. The White Australia Policy encouraged the resettlement of indigenous Australians from their original and ancestral homes to resettlement camps so that they could be easily controlled. From the camp, it was easier to force the indigenous Australians to work as forced labor or at a minimum wage. It was also easier to monitor and minimize their movements. The resettlements were a way of breaking up families because majority of the people were kept in camps where they had no relatives. The effects of the resettlement are evident even on the current generations of indigenous Australians because some are unable to trace their relatives and origin
.The white Australia policy was gradually liberalized by the government in the mid 50s and was completely lifted in 1975(O’Halloran, McGregory & Simon, 2008). As a result non European immigrants were encouraged and welcomed to Australia and the country became one of the countries with diverse groups of people from different parts of the world. The strict and unjust discrimination of non European immigrants and indigenous Australian was also abolished.
Indigenous Australians originally inhabited Australia for a long time. But the immigration of the Europeans led to the indigenous people taking a back seat while the immigrants took control of almost all the aspects of live in Australia. The European immigrants came up with the white Australia policy with an aim of eliminating the indigenous people and preventing non-European immigrants from entering Australia. However, the policy had negative effects to both the indigenous people and the white European immigrants. However, all this ended after the abolition of the policy in 1975the government realized that the white Australia rule had negative effects. Hence, it is evident that the white Australia policy had many negative effects some of which are being experienced by the current inhabitants of Australia.