Family history for post-war migrants

Media release: Friday, 12 April 2013

The National Archives is reaching out to encourage post-war migrants to discover their family history through its website Destination: Australia – sharing our post-war migrant stories.

Featuring 20,000 post-war migration photographs, the website encourages migrants and their families to identify family and friends – or simply add stories of their own migration experiences.

A new addition to our You Tube page (link below) gives a taste of the website, with a selection of images.

'Our migration records and photographs are among the most popular in the National Archives collection,' said Director-General David Fricker. 'We believe they are there to be used and are trying to make it as easy as possible for migrants and their families to explore the collection and share their stories.'

These stories will feature in a new exhibition A Ticket to Paradise?: lives and experiences of Australia's post-World War II migrants which will open next year. The exhibition will explore the experiences of the individuals, couples and families who migrated after World War II, as well as examine the Australian Government's post-war immigration policies and promotional campaigns, through documents, photographs and footage recorded by the Department of Immigration.

'These stories add a rich layer of knowledge to our nation's recorded history and help every Australian understand and value the many strands of our heritage that, woven together, have created this nation of ours,' Mr Fricker said.

To complement the website, the National Archives' annual family history day Shake Your Family Tree on Tuesday 16 April at its offices around Australia is focussing on migration.

'A key feature is a webcast introduction to Destination: Australia and how to use it,' said Director of Communications and Programs Shaun Rohrlach.

'Another highlight is a panel discussion on the contribution of migrants to Australia - A diverse nation – lives and experiences of post-war migrants. Chaired by SBS reporter Karen Middleton, it features as panellists the face of soccer in Australia, Les Murray, as well as academic and author Kim Huynh, artist and playwright Noonee Doronila and filmmaker Malik Osman.' (bios below).

A program of fun activities is being held at National Archives offices in Canberra, Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne, Hobart, Adelaide and Perth.

Destination: Australia  
Destination Australia
Shake Your Family Tree:

Panel discussion members:

  • Les Murray (born Laszlo Urge) – migrated to Australia in 1957 (aged 11-12) under the Hungarian Refugee Assisted Scheme. His family settled in Wollongong after some time at Bonegilla. He began work as a journalist in 1971 and moved to Network 10 as a commentator in 1977 when he changed his name. He began work with SBS in 1980, initially as a subtitler in Hungarian but he soon turned to covering association football.
  • Kim Huynh – arrived in Australia (aged 2) with his family as a Vietnamese refugee in 1979. He grew up in Canberra working in the family bakery, largely detached from his Vietnamese relatives and heritage. In 1999 he learnt to read Vietnamese and spent many hours interviewing his parents.  He also travelled back to Vietnam on several occasions to speak to family and friends. As a post-graduate student Kim began researching his family's experiences for a doctorate in international relations which later became his book, Where The Sea Takes Us, (published in 2008) a very moving tribute.
  • Malik Osman – was just 18-months-old when his mother fled the civil war in Somalia in the 1990s and found safety for herself and her five children in a refugee camp on the Kenyan border. Malik's father, fearful for his family's future in Somalia, had already left the country to join an uncle of Malik's in Australia. After 18 months in the camp, when Malik was still only three, the family was accepted as refugees and his father sponsored them to join him in Australia.
  • Noonee Doronila – migrated to Australia with her family from the Phillipines for political reasons when she was 15 years old.  In her adult life as a multicultural artist and playwright, Noonee has been dedicated to exploring the cultural expressions of others forced to leave their homelands for an unknown future.  She has continuously contributed to the Canberra community through promoting the values of multicultural arts.  Noonee received an ACT International Women's Day award in 2007.
  • Moderator, Karen Middleton – is a political journalist in the Canberra Press Gallery, Chief Political Correspondent and Canberra Bureau Chief for SBS Television.  In 2011 she reported for SBS from Afghanistan and published a book on Australia's involvement in the War in Afghanistan.  Karen was born in Ottawa, Canada to Australian parents, and grew up in Canberra.

Contact information

  • Shaun Rohrlach (Director, Communications and Programs)
    t (02) 6212 3990 m 0434 664 621 e
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