Saturday, July 31, 2010

We are all boat people.

My husband wrote the following piece before the last election, when the issue of 'boat people' was just as prominant. I think it is still as relevant today as it was then.


Who are we? What is a true Australian?

Many years ago my Pop and Noona left Italy to escape Musilini's fascist regime to come to Australia. My mother's family, originally from Northern Ireland, emigrated from London after many years of dealing with the German bombing blitz. From these personally and psychologically devestating situations, Australia recieved my family, all of whom arrived on boats.

My ancestors, along with many other immigrants, from many other countries throughout the globe, gave everything to their new adobted home. They worked hard and copped a lot of flak from the locals. My Pop often said (in a strong Italian accent) that he was an Australian, and nobody was going to deny his family that right. He himself was interned by the Australian Government, even though he was a farmer, and also tried to enlist in the army to protect his new home. He never saw the need to return to Italy, our nation was his.

My mother's family, including four brothers, all became committed Australians.

If anyone questions the benefits of immigration, a snapshot of my family includes, doctors, nurses, accountants, farmers, police officers, soldiers, scientists, inventors, tradespeople, musicians, engineers, business owners, lifeguards, Australian representative sportspeople, coaches and some fantastic cooks. Members of my family have recieved medals for their committment to the community and to sport. This is like many other immigrant families who offer so much to their new home and it must be remembered that without these people Australia would not be the great nation it currently is.

In 1788, Australia recieved it's first white immigrants. Aborigines immigrated an estimated 50 thousand years earlier, and have cared for and shaped our environment. Australia is a land of immigrants.

Today we have a different group of boat people but they, like my own ancestors, have been dealing with terrible times. They come from places ravaged by war and extremist views. They want someplace safe to raise their families and can offer so much, if given the opportunity.

It is often said that immigrants need to speak our language and adopt our cultures. If the Aboriginals had thought the same, we would be barely clothed, hunting with spears and speaking one of the many hundreds of languages spoken by Aboriginal Australia. That doesn't sound too bad to me, but what about pizza and pasta, stir fries, fish and chips, chilli, chocolate, burritos, curries, beer etc...? If you ever question the benefits of immigration, just take a look at the menu. We all know that good food is at the heart of every healthy nation.


  1. Sorry but your totally wrong, come to the western suburbs of Sydney and you will see full suburbs of one culture not interested in assimilation massive unemployment unspeakable crime no regard for another race but their own .feeding of the taxpayer, yes immigration 30 plus years ago it worked but today you have no idea trust me you wouldn’t be living in cairns if you had the immigrants that is swamping Sydney and Melbourne

  2. No, I do not live in Sydney. I have, however, lived in Melbourns, where the problem is much the same. Realistically, we cannot hope that all people immigrating are going to benefit the community, just that most will. The people arriving by boat are not causing the problems though, are they. It's the ones who have creatd mini countries in suburban Australia that have caused the problems. In Darwin, there is a high percentage of Greek descendants living there, they are all doing well, working hard and their children are also succeeding in life. The answer? I honestly don't know, but I do not that educating the children is the key. It's not the older population (the ones who origiated elsewhere) who are the problem, it's the young adults who were born here. We need to educate these kids and teach them how to be more responsible members of the community. It will take time, but the first thing we need to do is not make the mistake of assuming that all these kids are the same. Lots of them are decent, average Australian kids, it's the 20 odd percent that are in trouble. I do know that there are programs now being put in place that should have a positive outcome for this issue, my hope is that the programs will be expanded to include all those kids at risk of becoming offenders or simply disconnected with the wider community. Community gardens, positive meeting places, councelling, education, confidence building sessions (yes, believe it or not, those with puffed out chests are not confident people) and just general care are all great ways to affect changes. I will continue to have hope that things will not stay as they are and that those living in Western Sydney will have a better quality of life.