Selling White Australia: The Asian Visits Fund and Assimilation as a foundational concept in Australian Cold War Public Diplomacy

Publication Name

Cold War History


The ‘Asian Visits Fund’ was the Australian Government’s first Cold War people-to-people public diplomacy programme. Standing in the Fund’s way was Australia’s racially restrictive immigration programme. A central feature of the scheme, therefore, was to present a vision of a non-racial Australia through the new national ideology of Assimilation. The treatment of indigenous Australians was showcased as one way to highlight Assimilation and debunk broader claims of racism. Ultimately, however, the Asian Visits Fund was unable to alter the negative perception of Australia’s immigration policy. It was the last major initiative aimed at selling the unsellable ‘White Australia Policy’.

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