The Changing Rights and Freedoms of Greek Migrants
Their country was war torn, in a political crisis and in a horrible state of economic status. This was due mainly to the Civil War carried out between 1946 and 1949. Without sufficient infrastructure, agriculture and jobs, many people were looking for another place to live, and Australia just happened to be the place that they chose. Why? In the late 1940’s, the Australian government introduced the policy ‘Populate or Perish’, as there was a threat of invasion at the time.
The majority of the migrants came from Britain and other ‘white’ countries, but they could not supply the quantities that Australia demanded. This left the government to find migrants from the ‘non-preferred’ countries such as Greece. From the Greek’s point of view, Australia was ideal. There were jobs available that would be sufficient to put food on their families table, which was their main priority. These jobs were mainly labourer’s jobs such as fruit picking, sugar cane farming etc…
Australia was keen to find more migrants and had a decent economy, which topped it all off for the Greeks.
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There was over 160,000 Greeks that migrated to Australia in the 1960’s and 70’s However, it didn’t go all to plan for the Greek migrants. After settling in, it was obvious that some major issues were arising. Of course, Greece was a very different place to Australia, and many issues were quickly recognised.
One of the issues was the Cultural differences between the Greek communities and Australian communities. The Greeks have a very strong culture, and brought the best of It to Australia. This included different types of food, churches even minor things such as different celebration days. This upset the Australian population involved and led to racial frustration. Some Australians also believed that they were stealing their jobs, which didn’t give them much opportunity for well-paid jobs.
The Greeks were viewed as an alien race by Australians, and the Greeks reacted by isolating themselves in suburbs such as Brighton, Marrickville and Kingsford in Sydney, and many Suburbs in Melbourne(particularly Lonsdale St), and creating their own ethnic enclaves, which was a problem in itself. These attitudes were slowly changed over the next decade or two. The main issue was that very little of the Greek migrants knew how to speak English. It was made worse by the Greeks in that they didn’t want to co-operate in the assimilation processes and learn English.
The government introduced many policies to try and bridge the gap, but nearly all of them failed. These included Greek radio stations in English, Greek newspapers in English and even Television programs, along with in-experienced tutors and teachers. In the Early 1970’s, the tutor systems were revised, the TV and radio programs made better, on-board flight and boat learning language tools and well translated texts in newspaper. In a few years, the problem of Assimilation had become nothingness and was not a problem.
Overall, the process to Australia for the Greeks was not as smooth or as enjoyable as they may have wanted, but was most definitely necessary.