Teacher Notes

Part A: White Australia

In this activity you will explore the introduction and legacy of the discriminatory White Australia policy, which was introduced to Australia just after Federation in 1901.

You will begin by looking at four primary sources from around the period of Australian Federation.  Carefully analyse each of these sources to explore the attitudes found in Australian society at the time.

Note: These sources are reflective of the era in which they were created, and contain discriminatory perspectives which are considered inappropriate today.

Source A: A cartoon from the Bulletin by Phil May, 1888.

Analyse this source by considering the following questions:

  • What is happening in this cartoon?
  • What is the purpose of political cartoons?
  • What does the cartoon tell you about attitudes towards Aboriginal Australians in 1888?
  • What comment do you think the cartoonist is trying to make?

© Copyright National Library of Australia

 

Source B: Advertisement, A White Australian — Parson Bros. & Co Pty Ltd, Sydney, 1903.

Analyse this source by considering the following questions:

  • What product is this advertisement promoting?
  • How would you describe the woman depicted in this advertisement?
  • Why has the tagline 'A White Australian' been used?

Image courtesy of the Australian History Museum, Macquarie University.

 

Source C: Advertisement, Nulla-Nulla soap, about 1901.

Analyse this source by considering the following questions:

  • A nulla-nulla is an Aboriginal tool.  Where and how are nulla-nullas being used in this advertisement?
  • How is the Aboriginal woman depicted?
  • Why is this imagery used to advertise soap?

Image courtesy of M. O'Riordan & Sons Sydney.

 

Source D: White Australia Game, around 1920

Analyse this source by considering the following questions:

  • What was the aim of this board game?
  • Who would this game have been played by?

Image courtesy of the National Archives of Australia.

 

  1. What do these four sources tell you about attitudes that existed in Australian society at the time?

  2. How do you think it would have felt to be an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander or 'non-white' person living in Australia during this period?