Asian Studies Program

Chinese Australia

Racial discrimination against the Chinese
in the late 19th and early 20th centuries


Unit title:
Racial discrimination against the Chinese in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries

Year level:
Middle secondary

Key learning areas:
Studies of society and environment,

Curriculum emphasis:
From: Studies in Asia: A Statement for Australian Schools:
- Challenging stereotypes
- Developing concepts of Asia

Duration:
Two - three 50 minute lessons

Description:
Students examine the stereotypes of Chinese immigrants to Australia in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. They evaluate the validity of these stereotypes and investigate various pieces of legislation that discriminated against the Chinese.

Teacher background material:
The following links provide an introduction and overview of the topics covered in this unit:
- Brief History of the Chinese in Australia on the Chinese Heritage of Australian Federation website.
- 'Racism - No Way!' website is an excellent resource. It includes a timeline of the key events in Australia's development as a culturally diverse nation and also Library, Games, News and Classroom Activities.

Student outcomes:
Students will:
- identify and explain the stereotypical view of Chinese in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries
- describe the racist legislation directed at the Chinese at this time
- explain why such legislation would not be tolerated in today's society.

Materials required:
Computer/s with internet access. Alternatively could use a cached version of the site or print the relevant pages and copy onto overheads or handouts.

Procedure:
1. Introduction: What is racism? What is a stereotype?
Visit the 'Racism - No Way!' website. Click on the Glossary at the bottom of the page to help you answer the questions - What is racism? What is a stereotype?

Read the material in the websites below to find out how European Australians viewed Chinese in Australia in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Make a labelled diagram depicting the stereotypical Chinese person according to this view. How accurate was this stereotype?
- 'Chinese in Ballarat' on the education section of the Sovereign Hill website.
- 'Opium issue in Australia' on the Harvest of Endurance Scroll website.
- 'Attitudes to Chinese' on the Harvest of Endurance Scroll website.

Now try to make a similar diagram depicting a typical twenty-first century Australian.
- How difficult was this? Why?
- Do you know any people who are like your 'typical Australian' in your diagram?
- Do you know any people who are not like this?

Class discussion: What problems can stereotyping cause? How are stereotypes used positively?

2. Racist legislation in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.
Read the material on the web links below.
- Describe the anti-Chinese legislation in relation to the furniture trade, the banana industry, immigration and poll taxes.
- Which laws were directed specifically against Chinese and which were directed at any non-white?
- Did these laws have the desired effect?

Background information on Chinese Heritage of Australian Federation website:
- 'Taxes on Chinese Immigration to Australia, 1901 Immigration Restriction Act and the Dictation Test'
- furniture making
- Chinese and the banana industry

Information on the Harvest of Endurance Scroll website:
- 'Anti-Chinese violence'
- 'Federation and discrimination'
- 'Federation and the Immigration Restriction Act 1901'
- 'Furniture factories,1870s and 1880s'

What did the Chinese in Australia do about this discriminatory treatment?
- 'Chinese protests against discrimination at the turn of the century' background article on the Chinese Heritage of Australian Federation website.

Could any laws like those you have read about above, be passed in Australia today? Why / why not?
- 'Racial discrimination' on the Australian Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission website.

When was the 'Dictation Test' abolished?
- 'Timeline - 1950s' on the Immigration Museum website.

Extension activities:
1. Statistical analysis: Chinese immigration today
Look at the handout 'Australian Bureau of Statistics figures'
- How many Chinese people immigrated to Australia in 2000?
- Australia's population at the end of 2000 was 19,157,000. What percentage of Australia's population was born in China?

Author:
Karen Dowling

Handouts:
Download Handout 'Australian Bureau of Statistics figures' for extension activity (64kb word document)

Summary of websites used in this lesson:
Chinese Heritage of Australian Federation website - http
- Brief History of the Chinese in Australia - education/history.htm
- Historical backgrounds - education/about.htm

'Racism - No Way!' website - http://www.racismnoway.com.au/

'Harvest of Endurance Scroll' on the National Museum of Australia website - http://www.nma.gov.au/harvest/html/

Education section Sovereign Hill website - http://www.sovereignhill.com.au/education

Australian Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission website - http://www.hreoc.gov.au

Immigration Museum website - http://immigration.museum.vic.gov.au