Until 1945, and the continuing threat of invasion by Asia, Australia's immigration policy had been one to accept only Western Europeans who conformed to the stereotypical mould of an Australian. As the reality of Australia's vulnerability was understood, the new Immigration minister, Arthur Calwell, formed the opinion that Australia must "populate or perish" as there were only 2.3 people to every square kilometer of Australian soil.
At his request, new immigrants from all over the world, besides Asia and Africa, were accepted warmly by the thousands. Though these immigrants were from many European countries, the immediate assumption was that all previous language, culture and beliefs would be abandoned overnight to assimilate into Australian society. This resulted in the employment of well-educated and qualified professionals in low paid jobs with few rights and little hope of improvement in the quality of life. These 'new Australians' saw Australia as their promised land and felt that compared with the political and social uproar of their former homes, Australia was a peaceful country in which to live.
In the period between 1945 and 1995, the percentage of citizens from non-English speaking background grew from approximately three percent to almost fifty percent. This came as a direct result of the gigantic influx of foreign immigrants from over one hundred countries, contributing the vast diversity of Australia's multiculturalism today. The multiculturalism is now encouraged, as new migrants from the 1970s onwards have been encouraged to retain their own cultures and languages.
Since that time, the attitudes of Australians towards new immigrants and foreign countries has changed dramatically from one of fear and mistrust to one of appreciation and tolerance. Australia is now a country with one of the most ethnically diverse populations in the world and has a suitable friendly and liberal attitude to...