Eugenics and Border Control, Australia 1912–1920

  • Jennifer S. Kain
Part of the Mental Health in Historical Perspective book series (MHHP)


This chapter accounts for the perception of Australia 1912 Immigration Act as heralding its ‘definite eugenic phase’. It positions Director of Quarantine, and subsequent Commonwealth Medical Officer, Dr William Perrin Norris at the centre of the legislative overhaul. Norris was tasked with establishing a system of pre-departure medical approval in Britain aligned with the extended prohibited immigration clauses. Not only did Norris seek to maximise its eugenic elasticity, he promoted his operational designs as the model of best practice for other dominions. Ultimately, the onset of war stymied his plans and the law’s application remained less vigorous than its intent.

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jennifer S. Kain
    • 1
  1. 1.School of History, Classics and ArchaeologyNewcastle UniversityNewcastle upon TyneUK

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