Humanity, compassion and prudent control: remembering Vietnamese boat people

Rachel Standfield

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review


This essay analyses the debates over the arrival of Vietnamese refugees in Australia in the 1970s. These debates are contextualised within discussion over the Aboriginal Land Rights (Northern Territory) Act 1976 to explore the connections between racial discourse applied to Aboriginal people and to immigrants. The essay argues that while contemporary political discourse may highlight the humanitarian aspects of the decision to accept Vietnamese refugees, an analysis of the complexity of debates in the 1970s can illustrate the ongoing importance of racial discourse to immigration policies, even after the White Australia Policy had been abolished.
Original languageEnglish
Article number5
Pages (from-to)99-116
Number of pages18
JournalAustralian Studies
Issue number1/2
Publication statusPublished - 2007


  • immigration
  • refugees
  • Aboriginal people
  • land rights
  • Northern Territory

Cite this