SLAVIC COMMUNITIES IN AUSTRALIA: THE HISTORICAL BACKGROUND AND THE CURRENT SITUATION
Keywords:Australia, immigration, the Department of Home Affairs, Ukraine-born, Poland-born and Czech Republic-born citizens in Australia
Migration to the Australian continent has ancient origins. On 1 January 1901, the Federation of the Commonwealth of Australia included six former colonies: New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia, Tasmania, Queensland, and Western Australia. The British origin had 78% of those who were born overseas.
The immigration was high on the national agenda. The most ambitious nation-building plan based on immigration was adopted in Australia in the post-World War II period. The shock of the war was so strong that even old stereotypes did not prevent Australians from embarking on immigration propaganda with the slogan “Populate or Perish”. In the middle 1950s, the Australian Department of Immigration realized that family reunion was an important component of successful settlement. In 1955 the Department implemented “Operation Reunion” – a scheme was intended to assist family members overseas to migrate to the continent and reunite with the family already living in Australia. As a result, 30000 people managed to migrate from countries such as Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Poland, Romania, the Soviet Union, and the former Yugoslavia under this scheme.
Today Australia’s approach to multicultural affairs is a unique model based on integration and social cohesion. On governmental level, the Australians try to maintain national unity through respect and preservation of cultural diversity. An example of such an attitude to historical memory is a database created by the Department of Home Affairs (DHA). For our research, we decided to choose information about residents of East-Central European origin (Ukraine-born, Poland-born, and Czech Republic-born citizens) in Australia, based on the information from the above mentioned database.
The article provides the brief historical background of Polish, Ukrainian and Czech groups on the Continent and describes the main characteristics of these groups of people, such as geographic distribution, age, language, religion, year of arrival, median income, educational qualifications, and employment characteristics.