Villawood 2d - Guest/Host


Guest/Host: Settler-Colonial Occupation and Racialised Hierarchies

The White Australia policy was formally enshrined in law on 23 December 1901 through the Immigration Restriction Act, designed to block the entry of non-white subjects and to expel racialised and other undesirables. During the same period, a range of genocidal practices were put into effect against Indigenous people; these involved the structures of forced removal to and confinement in missions, reserves and segregated children’s homes and are extensions of the border-military-prison complex.

As migration expanded in the mid-twentieth century, the positioning of post-war non-British migrants as ‘guests’ further consolidated the status of white settler Australia as the ‘host’ and elided the status of Aboriginal people as the owners of the land.

The post-war program of migration, while designed to shore up Australia as a European outpost, was structured by a racialised hierarchy. There was a distinct racialised divide between British and non-British, especially southern European, and later Middle Eastern, migrants.


Adults and children collect a meal from the mess hall of the former Villawood Migrant Hostel. The English and Australian flags are hung on the wall above.

[imagecaption] NAA: DIMIA; A12111, Westbridge/Villawood Migrant Hostel, 2/1973/22A/220, 1973[/imagecaption]

Non-British migrants, also referred to as ‘Aliens’, many of whom were displaced persons,  immigrated on the basis of two-year indentured labour contracts. The accommodation provided them was often of a lower standard and family separation occurred in some circumstances. Contracts required the learning of English and a cultural proscription operated against the use of native languages.


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