Untitled | AMVL Migrations – Brisbane Migration Agency
Harmony Day celebates the multicultural society Australia has become and most of us have come from many different countries around the world. In this blog, some of the team at AMVL discuss their own family’s migration to Australia.
My dad came to Australia in 1955 from a small town in Italy. He spoke not a word of English nor knew anyone in Australia – but he was a young man looking for opportunities. He promised his mother than he would stay for 2 years to learn English and make some money, and then return to Italy. His mother never forgave him for the fact that he did not return to Italy to live.
He worked at first cutting cane in North Queensland, a hot and hard job, before moving to Brisbane to work on the railways. He met my mother, a young Irish Australian girl, at a dance at the Cloudland ballroom and though he did not know many English words, in true romantic Italian style, he said he knew the music. They married soon afterwards and went on to have 4 children.
While being a proud Australian, dad still treasured his Italian heritage and for most of his adult life, he was a key member of the Giuseppe Verdi Choral Society, a men’s choir in Brisbane, and held many committee positions at the Italo-Australian centre in Brisbane. His continued commitment to the Italian community in Queensland earned him the title of “Cavaliere” from the Italian Government – the equivalent of a knighthood as the word literally means horseman.
Growing up in Brisbane with a strange last name in the 1960s and 1970s, was not common (at the school I went to we were the only family with a foreign born parent). For many years dad would introduce himself as Fred but thanks to Abba, he was able to start using his real name – Fernando. However I loved feeling a bit different. I was proud of the fact that when we were around dad’s friends, they often broke into song and that we ate a lot of pasta. Times have certainly changed and it is great that now Australia welcomes people from all around the world and provides them with opportunities as well as embracing the different cultures they bring with them. We are a richer country for this.
My paternal grandparents arrived in Australia on 10 December 1950, as part of a mass migration scheme following World War II. My grandfather was Polish and my grandmother was German, and after living through the horrors of the war they decided that Australia offered far better opportunities for their future.
Following a long journey by boat, my grandparents initially settled in Kingaroy in regional Queensland, where my father was born. The family then moved to Brighton, north of Brisbane, and my grandfather took up work as a labourer. He told me a number of stories of the places around Brisbane he helped build – including the time he dropped his watch into a fresh concrete pour at Stones Corner!
My grandparents were proud of their cultural traditions and heritage which they wanted to pass on to us. We also spent time with other European families who had migrated to Australia like my grandparents, listening to their stories and experiencing their cultures. Harmony Day reminds me of these times, as we come together to share food from different cultures and to learn just a little bit more about each other. Happy Harmony Day!
Despite working in an industry focused on assisting people to migrate to Australia, I know very little about my own personal migration history. My dad thinks his family originated from Wales but no one knows much detail about this. However, in less than 2 months time I am getting married and my fiancé is from a small village in Ireland called Killyon, which is located in County Meath. This means I will be starting some of my own history.
Having travelled to Ireland several times over the last 10 years, I find our two cultures very similar and we share a similar sense of humour to the Irish. Even though Australians are very social, the Irish certainly beat us in this regard. They love to catch up over a drink (or 10) and if it is not a beer then it is over several cups of tea. I find people from Ireland to be extremely family orientated, generous, loyal, and incredibly relaxed (stress is not a word in their vocabulary!). The way they don’t sweat the small stuff and their chilled attitude is admirable. Over the years I have also become accustomed to the different days celebrated as a part of the Irish culture. This includes Saint Patrick’s Day on the 17 March, which commemorates Saint Patrick, who is said to have driven all of the “snakes” out of Ireland (an allegory to describe his efforts against the Celtic druids).
I feel lucky that I get such a unique experience in marrying a foreigner, as it provides a firsthand opportunity to experience traditions associated to a country other than Australia.
I was born and raised in the Philippines. When I got married, my husband and I moved to Papua New Guinea and worked there for a few years. When we came to Australia in 2008 to visit relatives and friends, my husband and I thought that it would be great to raise our kids here. There’s fresh air, beautiful beaches, nice big parks that the kids can play around. We also met people (who are migrants themselves) who encouraged us to move here because Australia is a safe place to live with lots of job opportunities. Most of all, our kids would have better education and work opportunities in the future.
Soon after, we migrated here to Australia, and the family became Australian citizen just a few years ago.
Settling here in Australia was easy for me and my family because it’s a friendly and multicultural community. We enjoy going for picnics, gatherings and festivals with family and new found Aussie friends.
After doing some research into my family’s history, I found out some pretty interesting things. On my father’s side, my great grandmother always insisted that we were related to the rebellious Peter Lawlor (also Peter Lalor). Whether this is true or not is still up for debate, however my family proudly hangs a ‘Wanted’ poster for his arrest, dated 1854 in the dining room for everyone to see.