Application for Registration form issued by the Commonwealth of Australia to Mr Ah Him, 28 September 1940. Aliens (non-citizen residents) were closely monitored and were required to report changes of address and travel (both within Australia and overseas). These restrictions were even harsher for non-Europeans and Asian residents who were unable to apply for naturalisation, until 1957. During World War Two Aliens were monitored by State Police under the Commonwealth of Australia National Security (Aliens Control) Regulations, and as seen in this document were photographed and finger printed.
Mr Ah Him was born on 12 October 1871 in Canton China. He is believed to have arrived in Australia in 1895 on the SS Eastern from Hong Kong, leaving his wife in China. He appears to have travelled back and forth between China on several occasions, most likely to visit his wife, who would have been unable to join him in Australia under immigration laws introduced in 1903. The National Archives of Australia have documents relating to requests by Mr Ah Him for exemption from the dictation test on his return to Australia from China. The dictation test was used by immigration officers as a means of restricting entry into Australia and enforcing the White Australia Policy.
Ah Him recorded as living in Northcote in 1940 and moved to Little Bourke Street towards the end of 1941. He was employed as a laundry man, which was a common occupation among Asian immigrants in the early 1900s. Employment in Victoria's laundries peaked in 1913 when 31 percent of laundry workers were Chinese.
Foolscap size paper with typed black text and signature and some details in blue ink. There is a black and white photograph of the applicant (an elderly Chinese man in a suit) attached at top right hand corner. Left and right hand fingerprints are at the bottom of page. The personal details of the applicate have been typed in.
These documents are a significant addition to the Museum's immigration documents collection. They are amongst the few documents in the collection to represent Chinese immigration and settlement experiences and illustrate Australia's immigration laws regarding residents categorized as 'aliens'. The collection is also of interest for the insight it offers into the involvement of the police in the administration of these laws. During the 1940s the state police branches administered and monitored 'alien' residents under the Commonwealth of Australia National Security (Aliens Control) Regulations (as well as the wartime enemy alien tracking) - this was prior to the formation of the Dept of Immigration in 1945. Finally, the documents are visually powerful, some including a photograph and fingerprints of one of the residents.
Narrative (NEEDS TO BE DEVELOPED FURTHER):
'Aliens' (that is, non-citizen residents - official policy distinguished between British and aliens until both were redesignated in 1983 as 'non-citizens' until naturalized) were closely monitored, with residential change, travel movement, and departure and re-entry to the country strictly administered as a matter of national security (most of these wartime restrictions on non-citizen residents were finally removed by the 1947 Aliens Act). This should be seen in the context of the 1903 Commonwealth Naturalization Act whereby Asians and other non-Europeans were denied the right to apply for naturalization; it was not until 1957 that non-Europeans of more than 15 years residency could apply for citizenship. White Australia policy laws regarding the spouses of Chinese residents are demonstrated by the fact that one of the men, an Australian resident for over 40 years, appears to have had a wife in China whom he appears to return to visit (In 1903 male non-Europeans living in Australia were no longer permitted to bring their wives and children into the country). During the 1940s the state police branches administered and monitored 'alien' residents under the Commonwealth of Australia National Security (Aliens Control) Regulations (as well as the wartime enemy alien tracking) - this was prior to the formation of the Dept of Immigration in 1945. Finally, the documents are visually powerful, some including a photograph and fingerprints of one of the residents.
Donation from Robert James Larkins, 14/12/2005
Text, printed: COMMONWEALTH OF AUSTRALIA/National Security (Aliens Control) Regulations/Form of Application to Register/(For Alien Resident in Australia).
Type of item
202 mm (Width), 343 mm (Height)
Short biography of Robert Larkins supplied by Victorian Police Museum