Racism Game in Australia - 'Get the coloured men out and the white men in'

To win the White Australia Game, players had a specific goal - to "Get the Colored Men Out and the White Men In".

White Australia Game

Instructions Explained

Place the Four Colored Men on the Circles in Australia, White Men Outside, Center Circle Vacant. A circle must be skipped every move, and no black moves allowed except that any piece on the centre circle may move to the circle next it, either backward or forward. Moves can be made on top of your own and opponents men, so that half a dozen pieces may be on top of one another. - Only the top piece is allowed to move. As long as a move is possible it is compulsory. When one side has more moves the game it over. Score is countered by the number you have in your opponents ground: thus if you have two men in the "2" circle and one in the "3" your score is five. If your opponents men cover any of your pieces these do not count. Single games may be played or any number up. Withe several boards many can play at once , the losers dropping out, the last two left in playing off. Or sides may be chosen, the individual scores of each side totaled.

Place the men the same as the "Game". The Puzzle is to make them change pieces, getting all the Colored Men out and all the White Men into Australia. One man can jump over other when-ever there is a vacant space. Moving backwards or on top of other pieces is not allowed. Jumping over your men is not allowed. Whenever the next circle ahead is vacant you can move onto it.

Louise Maher ABC 666 Canberra 16 July 2014

"[It's] very much to do with the White Australia Policy," explained Kate Naughtin, Education Project Officer at the National Archives of Australia.

Education Project Officer Kate Naughtin from the National Archives of Australia
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Education Project Officer Kate Naughtin holds a copy of the White Australia Game from 1914

(ABC - Louise Maher)

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White Australia Game
1–2 Players, Playing Time: 15 Minutes


Instructions for Puzzle

"The aim of this game is to get them to change places, getting all the coloured men out and all the white men into Australia which very much was, I suppose, the attitude of the time."

The White Australia Game sold for sixpence, included two extra puzzles, and was advertised as "A New Australian Game for New and Old Australian People".

It was registered by a Francis James Shaw from Coburg in Victoria and was granted speedy copyright approval in 1914.

Discrimination against Asians and Pacific Islanders

The Immigration Restriction Act, which formed the basis of the White Australia Policy, was one of the first pieces of legislation approved by the Australian parliament after Federation in 1901.

It stated that a person wanting to migrate to Australia had to pass a dictation test in any, or several, European languages – a provision deliberately designed to discriminate against people from Asia and the Pacific Islands.

The policy was popular with the vast majority of Australians and championed by trade unions and the Australian Labor Party who feared the influx of cheap Chinese labour.

In 1901 future Prime Minister William Morris Hughes launched the ALP's platform citing: "Our chief plan is, of course, a White Australia. There's no compromise about that. The industrious coloured brother has to go – and remain away!"

The policy was gradually dismantled from the end of the Second World War and finally removed from legislation by the Fraser Government in 1978.

'Pleading to be recognised'

Ms Naughtin's own great-grandfather Leo Papadakis had personal experience of the White Australia Policy.

After migrating from Greece and working in the Queensland cane fields, he applied for naturalisation in 1920.

Because his skin was dark he was required to supply a police report about his history and character to prove he was not a "coloured man".

Leo Papadakis document in the National Archives of Australia
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The letter requesting proof that Leo Papadakis was not a "coloured man"

(National Archives of Australia)

Mr Papadakis was eventually granted citizenship but the process took some time.

"He has written letters and things like that stating that because he has a new child he wants that child to be a British subject," Ms Naughtin said.

"He's really pleading at that time to be recognised."

Prevailing racist attitudes

The White Australia Game came with dark and light-coloured chips and according to Ms Naughtin, was not "a particularly technically difficult game", which means children may have played it.

There's no record of how many copies of the game were sold and how long it was in circulation. But its existence is a reminder of the prevailing racist attitudes of the day and this type of attitude does help explain the ongoing racism that still exists today.

White Australia Game