a multicultural Research Library

Making multicultural Australia

Search the complete site: ... Sitemap » ... Links to other sites »

multicultural Video »

Category: Interviews »

Subject: Cultural Studies »

Mark Wang on the post-Federation experience of Melbourne's Chinese community

Mara Moustafine and Mark Wang.

Mark Wang details the post-Federation experience of Melbourne's Chinese community



Date Added:

09 February 2009


source not available


mov (Quicktime);

File size:

6.3 MB






... went into decline a couple of times because around the 1920s, you know, the Chinese – from the White Australia Policy of 1901 through to 1950, because there weren’t many Chinese people in Melbourne or Australia per se, or they kept – started going back to China and no new people came, the population became quite small and by the 1940s there were only about 9000 people in Australia.


Back in the 1850s and ‘60s, the Chinese were about 3% of the population. And it’s only come back in the last 10 years, that they’re now 3% of the population of about close to 700,000 people. Of the 20million, 20 or million so people in Australia.


So if you imagine now when you see how many Asian people there are in the street now, that’s what it would have looked like proportionally way back in the 1850s and ‘60s. But if you were to – when I was little – in the 1950s, you would know – every single Chinese person you would know, or – if you walked down Little Bourke Street you would know every single person. And they’d either be a relative of yours or a friend of a relative, or you’d just know everybody, it was a very small community. So things have changed a lot from one circumstance to another. You know, in the space of 50 years, things have changed amazingly.


It wasn’t a fun time after 1901 for Chinese people. And I would say that because of the community here and their relationship with China they had obviously relatives in China and they wanted to reunite families, etcetera, it was a very difficult time for them and you know, often they would – way back then – they would change passports so that their cousin could come instead of their sister etcetera and I know older people in the community who actually assumed a different person’s name to actually come to Australia. So they were the things that had to be done to sort of reunite communities together.


End transcript