Australia in the 1980s


Amendments to the Migration Act 1958 (Cth) replaced the term 'alien' with 'non-citizen' and ended the favoured treatment of British nationals as immigrants to Australia. In the 1980s family reunion was the most common criteria for migrating to Australia. Professor Geoffrey Blainey proposed to limit immigration from Asia and sparked a public debate on immigration policy.

In the 1980s, multicultural radio stations were operating in many states and territories. SBS television began broadcasting as Channel 0/28 multicultural television in Melbourne and Sydney.

In 1987, the Office of Multicultural Affairs was established and two years later, the National Agenda for a Multicultural Society was released.

In 1989, the first significant numbers of refugees arrived from Africa, most of them from Ethiopia.

A snapshot of 1988

  • January
    • The first Aboriginal television station, Imparja, began transmission in Alice Springs.
    • Australia's Bicentennial celebrations began and the First Fleet re-enactment vessels arrived at Botany Bay.
    • The new Parliament House on Capital Hill in Canberra was officially opened by Queen Elizabeth II.

  • June
    • Kay Cottee became the first woman to sail single-handedly and non-stop around the world.
    • The $2 coin went into circulation replacing the old $2 note.


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