Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts (Hons.)


Department of History and Politics


Objectives: This research arose from a proposal by the Portuguese Consulate General to study the Po1iuguese Community in the Illawarra. There has been one such analysis already completed which the researcher had access to: The Portuguese Community in the lllawarra, a report jointly published by the Illawarra Area Health Service and the South Coast Portuguese Association. This report states that it is the first survey of its kind on the Illawarra's Portuguese population and was initiated for two reasons. First, knowledge of and information about the Portuguese community lacked a satisfactory definition. Second, the survey was seen as a means of providing data that could be used in the planning of relevant health programmes for the Portuguese community. While this previous study was health based, this new research is an oral history of the Portuguese community in the Illawarra. It describes their feelings and experiences on arrival in Australia and in the Illawarra and how they managed with the language, different culture, and isolation. It also discusses their sense of communitY and the achievement of their original goals for such a drastic move from their homeland. Finally, assimilation and multiculturalism is discussed to see if these policies affected their aims and objectives. However, the researcher is aware that the small number of interviewees does not represent the whole community, and this was not intended. It was instead, used to show how these people felt and dealt with the problems that are associated with any migrant group in Australia.

Methodology: Nehvorking was used to obtain the ten interviewees. It was soon realised that it most the most efficient way to gain relevant information needed. The interviewees consisted of four women and six men ranging in age from 43 years to 68 years of age. It was generally recognised that the most relevant information on the migrants' experience was, as it were, 'in the heads of people'. An introductory letter and a list of questions were created and included at the end of this thesis on page 117. The interviewees gave up about one hour of their time in a place and time that suited them. The answers received are held at the University of Wollongong Library archives and the interviewees' names are confidential and therefore in their place numbers are used. The questions were in English and only two of the interviewees felt the need to have someone to interpret for them.

Overview: Though it is a cliche, Australia is a nation of migrants. Ever since white settlement, Australia has relied on importing people when required to increase population and the workforce. While immigration has been a central feature of Australian history since settlement, the post-I 945 immigration program was to change the face of Australian society. Today, one in three Australians is a direct product of post-war immigration. About four million migrants have entered Australia since World War II. These people can1e from such a diverse range of countries spanning all comers of the globe and it has resulted in Australia being one of the most ethnically diverse nations in the world. Before World War II, the Australian people were predominantly Anglo and Celtic in origin. This monoculture society was to change into a multicultural society in the space of less than four decades. Therefore, Australia as a receiving country of the large number of people from a diverse range of countries has become a major feature of its contemporary society and the Portuguese Community, although small, still played its unique part in this development.

In contrast, emigration is one of the main features of the human geography of Southern Europe, and indeed, of much of the Mediterranean Basin. The post war period, in particular the time between the late 1950s and early 1970s has seen an emigration boom, sparked off partly by the labour requirements of western world's industrial economies, combined with the continuing poverty of areas such as rural Spain, southern Italy and northern Greece and Portugal. Although most of these emigrants worked as guest workers in European countries such as France and Germany, a large portion made the gigantic step to immigrate to Australia. Therefore, how did the Portuguese feature in this post war immigration boom?

Constraints: The researcher encountered a number of constraints, which limited the scope of the research and its methodology. Major restrictions were related to the number of people interviewed. The time restraint allowed ten interviewees to be selected. There was an attempt to obtain two people from each year of the research, but time restraints prevented this. The quotes used throughout this study are in the person's own words, and the researcher has not used 'sic' as it was felt it would detract from the expression used.

There was a severe lack of information regarding the Portuguese in Australia and the Illawarra. This was especially noticeable since the census did not count the Portuguese born separately until 1976. Therefore, it was of only limited usefulness for this research as it had discounted 31 years of figures. Cross-tabulation, including relevant variables such as birthplace, are very limited for the Illawarra. Smaller ethnic communities are frequently subsumed under broader headings or, at worst, under a summary 'other'. Of the information available, it was mainly concentrated on community health, which was not immediately accessible and unrelated to this research.

Research at the Broken Hill Proprietary Limited Archives in Melbourne and National Archives of Australia in Canberra were both limited to the 30-year restriction clause. Therefore, research was only obtainable until 1970. BHPA however, stated they only had information until 1952 and unlike the National Archives; there was no index of available information for the researcher to access. This resulted in the researcher being dependent upon another person allocated by BHP A to decide if a certain bundle of papers were relevant to the thesis. The only information freely available was the different magazines and newspapers published by BHP. Added to the problems associated with BHPA the National Archives in Canberra recalled a large amount of information because of sensitivity regarding East Timor. In this case, the researcher had to wait for up to four months for this infonnation to be reclassified and unfortunately most of this was closed to viewing. Consequently, research for this thesis was extremely limited not only because of the reasons given above, but also since archival material was only available. Before 1970 and the census did not publish the relevant information until after 1970 before and after these times Government and private information was not existent.



Unless otherwise indicated, the views expressed in this thesis are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the University of Wollongong.