The documents, photographs and objects in the Gung family collection provide an insight into the family's experiences of migrating to Australia from China at the beginning of the twentieth century. Included in the collection are immigration papers that are of historical interest because they reflect changes in Australian immigration policy from the 1900s to the 1960s.The first of the family to arrive in Australia was Lou Sair Gung from the Guangdong province in southern China, from the large Louey (also Lou, Lui) clan. At this time his name was recorded by officials as Sydney Louey Gung, and Gung became the name of subsequent generations of his family.
Throughout this time, Australia's immigration policies - collectively known as the White Australia policy - restricted the immigration and rights of non-Europeans. This meant that Sydney Louey Gung and his wife, Yun Ping, who was born in Melbourne in 1890, were not eligible to apply for Australian citizenship, despite having settled permanently in Australia. In 1923, Harry Louey Pang, Sydney's older brother who been a continuous resident of Australia since 1888, applied for naturalisation and was refused on the grounds that if an exception was made for him, there would have to be other exceptions for other Chinese and non- white residents. The gradual relaxation of the policy in the early 1960s allowed Sydney's daughter-in-law, Mary Louey Gung, and her children to successfully apply to become Australian citizens. For examples of these documents, refer to the 'Aliens Entering Australia in Overseas Vessel or Aircraft' application form completed by Sydney in 1946 and a letter to Mary, dated 1962, stating that her application to become an Australian citizen has been approved.
The objects include a dinner set and bowl set, clay food steamer, a mahjong game set, abacus, scale balance perhaps for measuring herbs, lacquered chest, Samuel Louey Gung's ivory name chop and pen which illustrate Chinese Australian family life in the early to mid-twentieth century. There is also a Chinese marriage certificate from China for Samuel and Mary Louey Gung who had been married in Australia but who also desired a Chinese certificate.