Student handout 8: White Australia

Exploring the text

1. List the reasons given in Hirst's extract as to why the White Australia policy was well supported. Discuss these together as a class making a list on the board as you go.

2. Hirst suggests that the workers' desire for a society of equals actually made them more racist.

  • In your own words, explain how this was the case.
  • Can you think of other situations when what we think of as a 'good' quality is used in a way that has the opposite effect?

3. According to Hirst, how did Aboriginal people threaten the White Australia Policy?

Working beyond the text

4. Discuss and write down a definition of 'racism'. Write down as many antonyms (words of opposite meaning) to racism as you can think of.

5. Tolerance is often considered to be a virtue. What is a virtue? Do you think tolerance is a virtue? Can you think of situations where it might be considered wrong to be tolerant?

6. Australia today is a 'multicultural' society. Write down a definition of what you understand by this term. Brainstorm all the good things about living in a multicultural society. Share your responses with the rest of the class.

7. Create a collage (either on poster paper or as a multimedia web page) that represents visually what you personally value about a multicultural society.

8. Democratic Struggles

Using the unit ‘Democratic Struggles’ from the Discovering Democracy Lower Secondary Units, find out about the fight for the vote and citizenship by Aborigines (see

9. Using the Department of Immigration and Citizenship website (, or other resources from your library, find out about the abolition of the White Australia Policy.

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Student Handout