Chinese Immigrant Families in Australia: A Variety of Experiences

Crissman, Lawrence W.
March 1991
Journal of Comparative Family Studies;Spring91, Vol. 22 Issue 1, p25
Academic Journal
This paper begins by suggesting an estimate of 200,000 (or 1 1/4 per cent of the total population) of the number of Chinese in Australia in 1988, but makes the point that the aggregate number is not very salient because of the great diversity in the backgrounds of the 'Chinese' in the country. The various categories of people who in one way or another identify (or are identified as Chinese) are briefly discussed in the historical context of their arrival. The Chinese survivors of the White Australian Policy numbered only 12,094 in 1947, of whom 6,678 were Australia born (only 3,778 of those being 'full Chinese', according to the census). With the abandonment of all such immigration restrictions in 1966, the arrival of educated, largely Anglophone Chinese increased greatly, and in 1981 there were estimated to have been 13,750 from China and Taiwan, 10,100 from Hong Kong, 11,350 from Malaysia, 3,000 from Singapore, 2,500 from Papua New Guinea, and some 8,500 from elsewhere in the world apart from refugees from Timor (6,000) and Indochina (30,000). Australian-born Chinese numbered 12,000 in the same year. Over 10 per cent of the total of nearly 90,000 were students, principally from Hong Kong and Southeast Asia, or transients who did not have the right to remain in Australia. Student numbers continued to grow to 15,000 in 1985, as did the numbers of Indochinese refugees in particular, 60 to 80 per cent of whom have been ethnic Chinese. These trends have continued, producing the overall guess as to the number of last year noted at the beginning of this abstract. Various factors other than the national origins of immigrant and locally born Chinese that might differentiate among them, such as wealth and class, occupation, residence patterns, and religious affiliations, are then examined. However, their various cultural backgrounds acquired in their countries of birth or rearing, not their ancestral origins in different parts of China, from the primary basis for the...


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