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A group of legal and political heavyweights — including former Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser — will gather in Melbourne to celebrate the 50th anniversary of a landmark academic paper that led to the dismantling of the White Australia Policy.

The 50-page manifesto 'Immigration: Control or Colour Bar?' was written by a group of University of Melbourne students and academics in 1963.

It is widely credited as sparking a broad public backlash against Australia’s then-exclusionary immigration policy. The policy was relaxed from the 1960s and abolished in 1973.

The document’s authors identified as the Immigration Reform Group, and included future Governor Sir James Gobbo and Supreme Court Judges Howard Nathan and Stephen Charles.

Former politicians, policymakers, community leaders, and several surviving members of the Immigration Reform Group will attend a function at Victorian Parliament House on Thursday June 20th to reflect on the document’s significance and legacy — and the challenges that remain.

The evening is part of Immigration in Australia – Today and Tomorrow’s Challenges, a two day forum to analyse ongoing issues surrounding ethnic and religious diversity, equal access, and Australia’s management of flows and settlement.

Professor Pookong Kee, the Director of the University’s Asia Institute, said it’s a timely anniversary.

“Modern Australia is an extremely diverse society with a remarkably high level of social cohesion, a nation firmly engaged with the Asia-Pacific region. But there is no place for complacency,” he said.

“This conference coincides with World Refugee Week and an upcoming federal election, and should remind us that sound policy decisions don’t happen by accident. They have to be fought for, through hard work, public debate and solid research.”

The conference is being organised by the Immigration Reform Group's modern incarnation, the Population, Migration and Multicultural Studies Network.

Speakers include Federal Government immigration advisor Paris Aristotle, philosopher Peter Singer and noted Australian historian Marilyn Lake.

The Immigration in Diversified Australia Conference
June 20 – 21, 2013
‘The Spot’, Berkeley Street,
University of Melbourne.
See full program