Multi-racial Western Australia
Hoy Poy grew up in Port Hedland during the 1930s in one of the small communities
of Chinese, Malays and Japanese who lived and worked in the north of Western
Australia. As an Australian-born Chinese, her father was one of many Chinese
who came to Australia prior to Federation, often as indentured labour. They
and their families remained, in spite of the White Australia Policy, and
were part of the many different races and nationalities which have always
lived in small numbers in the State.
"For me childhood was quite fun because as a child you grew up with
other children because I can remember there was a Greek family, there
were Italians, there was the odd Japanese. So as a child you never noticed
anything different except maybe at school. You did notice that in school
because when you only had a class of maybe 50 or 60 children and you had
a few minority children there, then the Aussie kids would say something.
But as a child then nothing hurt except when I used to go to school my
father used to prepare food that was typically Chinese. Sometimes the
children would come along and say, 'What are you eating? It smells.' Or
'It stinks' or something because they weren't used to the different smells.
Then I noticed that there was something different. And every now and again
in the playground if you had a blow up, and perhaps I'd have a nice hat
because my father had a business, then they'd grab hold of that and they'd
stamp it on the ground and they'd say such things as 'Chin Chong Chinaman'.
But that also was new and as a child you just took it. My father used
to get very upset about it but I just said, 'Oh it's all right. They didn't
belt me or anything. They're just names, you know'. You sort of grew up
with that: 'Sticks and stones will hurt my bones but names will never
Edie Hoy Poy, March 2000
[Battye Library, OH3015]
But it was not until the 1970s that Western Australia began to become truly
multi-racial. The influx of migrants from all over the world made Western
Australia a more racially diverse society and brought with it the benefits