The descendants of Victoria’s Chinese gold miners who arrived during the Victorian gold rush have received a historic apology from the Victorian government for the racist laws and appalling conditions which were afflicted on their forbears.
The Victorian Gold Rush of the 1850s triggered mass migration to the region from all corners of Australia and the world, drawn by the allure of gold and wealth. This was the case for the Chinese miners, who, alongside gold, also found racist policies designed to discriminate against them.
Premier Daniel Andrews met with the descendants of these Chinese miners at the steps of the Victorian parliament house and told them,
“It is never too late to say sorry. To every Chinese Victorian…on behalf of the Victorian Parliament, on behalf of the Victorian Government, I express our deepest sorrow and I say to you we are profoundly sorry.”
To mark the 160’s anniversary, the descendants of these early miners traced the steps their ancestors took. To avoid the 10-pound fee of disembarking in Victoria, many early miners disembarked in South Australia and trekked across the country instead. The road was treacherous and many succumbed to starvation or exhaustion.
After the descendants traced the steps of their ancestors, they were greeted by the Premier at Victoria Parliament House which also showcased a variety of Chinese cultural events.
One of the descendants, Adrian Hem said,
“It gives us a great sense of pride, in what our forebears did. History is a great teacher. The present teaches us what a great country we have and the future will show, hopefully, that we can all live together in harmony.”