The Australian Dictation Test
Immigration Restriction Act
In 1901 the Immigration Restriction Act was introduced with the intention of keeping out anyone that Australia did not want to admit. A feature of this Act was the notorious ‘Dictation Test’ that could be administered to anyone trying to enter the country, including Asians and Pacific Islanders. It required the person to be able to write correctly at least 50 words dictated by the Customs officer… in any language of the officer’s choosing!
Tenpoundpom.com has brought back the evil Dictation Test so that you can see whether you have what it takes to pass. The passages we have selected for the test are genuine examples used by Customs officers in the 1920s and 30s. Rest assured, you will not be deported or refused entry to Australia if you fail!
Press play to listen to one of our many recorded passages and type down the words exactly as you hear them. Unlike migrants sitting this test more than fifty years ago, you have the advantage of being able to pause and replay the test. Once you are happy that everything appears to be in order and you have correctly transposed the dictated passage select ‘Submit’ to see how you went.
Rules and Procedures
The Dictation Test was a sure fire way of excluding unwanted immigrants. Every 6 months a fresh batch of passages was produced and to prevent people somehow getting their hands on a copy of the test beforehand, a new passage was introduced every two weeks. To put it bluntly, this was a test that was ‘impassable’ and impossible.
After 1932, immigrants already in Australia could be tested at any time within 5 years of their arrival so it did not just stop people entering the country but could also be used to deport them.
The test was much publicly criticised in 1934 when a Czech political activist called Egon Kisch, whom the government wanted to deport, was required to take it in Scottish Gaelic. On his failure to pass the test he made an appeal that was surprisingly upheld on the grounds that Scottish Gaelic was a trick too far.
The Dictation Test finally ceased to be legal in 1958.
See if you can pass the notorious Dictation Test and then tell us what you think about it on the Ten Pound Pom forum.