A Short History of Italian Cafés and Restaurants in Sydney

Anne Reynolds


Restrictions on immigrants to Australia were imposed nationally in 1901, the year markingFederation and the Immigration Restriction Act. In accordance with the Act, entry intoAustralia was barred to non-Europeans, and quota systems regulated the acceptance of non-British Europeans. As a result of fears over Australia’s ability to defend itself from invasion,owing to its small population, there was a concerted move in the years following World War Ito attract British immigrants. This effort failed to satisfy hopes and, as a result, thegovernment became marginally more flexible in accepting other Europeans. When restric-tions on the intake of Italian immigrants were instituted in the United States of America inthe 1920s, the numbers of Italians entering Australia began to rise. As Cresciani notes, thefigure for net Italian migration to Australia for the period 1922-1930 was 23,233, with “theration of male over female being approximately four to one” (CRESCIANI, in JUPP1988: 608).By 1928, alarm was expressed about the number of non-English speaking immigrants. Severequotas were subsequently imposed on the number of Italian immigrants.

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