Villawood 2e - Racialised Migrants


The Racialisation of Migrants, Asylum Seekers and Refugees

From the 1950s onwards, population policy was constantly recalibrated in response to global forces in ways that changed the ethnic mix of the nation, while leaving untouched the essential structures of the settler state. The policy of Multiculturalism represents a governmental strategy that simultaneously acknowledges ethnic ‘diversity’ and operates to exercise management and control.

The shift in the migrant population of Villawood hostel from primarily British to one that extended to European, Middle Eastern, African and Asian groups also marked a shift in the nature of the hostel itself, with increasing restrictions being placed on the inmates.

‘Hostel life does not appear to suit the British temperament and it is an experiment that we are not anxious to expand or to continue indefinitely.’

Harold Holt (Minister for Immigration), 1953



From a hostel for British and Eastern European migrants to a prison for racialised and criminalised ‘non-citizens’

Four photos that contrast the Villawood Migrant Hostel and Villawood Immigration Detention Centre. In photos from the migrant hostel, families are pictured playing sport on the grass and fences are low and unobtrusive. In the Villawood IDC, grassed areas appear barren and tall fences restrict freedom of movement.

[imagecaption] Left Upper: NAA, A12111, Villawood, 1973. Left Lower: NAA: A12111, Villawood, 1987. Right: Australian Human Rights Commission, Villawood, 2011.[/imagecaption]


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Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are respectfully advised that this website contains images of and references to deceased persons.

All viewers are respectfully advised that the site contains images of and references to the deaths in custody of Indigenous peoples, Black people and refugees that may cause distress.