More information about the Netherlands-born community in Australia can be found at the DIMIA website.
Committed to the preservation of migrant heritage in Australia, Nonja established the Migration Research Network, an online database which assists with the location of resource materials relating to migration, ethnicity and resettlement.
Nonja Peters was born in Holland following her parents' frantic escape from an ammunitions factory in Alsace Lorraine, where they were forced to work for the Nazi war machine. She and her mother were left there while her father, Jan, went into hiding. Nonja was left with her grandmother after the war and until the family migrated to Australia, receiving visits from her parents whose second child, Eddie, was born several years later. In December 1948, Jan set sail for Australia as part of the mass postwar migration movement across the globe. Nonja's mother Jo and her children made the voyage to join him in July 1949.
The Peters, with many other migrant families, settled at Northam in Western Australia's Avon Valley, where Nonja befriended other migrant children. At the age of seven she spoke English well enough to staff the counter of the family's fish and chip shop. As an adolescent she returned to Holland where she completed tertiary studies in podiatry, but was frustrated - as so many thousands have been - to find her qualifications were not recognised in Australia. Starting from scratch, she obtained a job with the government as a ledger machinist.
Not until her marriage and the birth of her two children did Nonja return to the world of academia by which time her husband had been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. As a mature age student, she studied part-time at the University of Western Australia until 1999, when she completed her PhD on immigrant enterprise in Western Australia. Jubilation was short-lived as her husband Robert's condition deteriorated and he was confined to a wheelchair. Nonja's thesis gained international recognition, and her subsequent work on migration has continued to receive accolades nationally and internationally. In 2001, after extensive research which made use of oral history, archives and photographs, she published the widely-acclaimed Milk and Honey - But No Gold: Postwar Migration to Western Australia, 1945-1964. The book was short-listed for literary awards in three Australian states.
Nonja has curated several permanent and travelling exhibitions between 1998-2003:
- Transpositions: Dutch Australians Art in Context, Art-on-the-Move, travelling exhibition 2003-2004.
- Aanpassen and Invisibility, being Dutch in Australia, on display at the WA Museum April-May 2002.
- Journey to the Promised Land, Travelling exhibition on postwar immigration 2000 - diverse venues.
- A New Australia: Postwar Migration to WA, Western Australian Museum - 1996 -permanent.
- A Sense of Place: Postwar Migration to Northam, on permanent display at the Visitor Centre, Northam, 1998 - permanent.
Committed to the preservation of migrant heritage in Australia, Nonja established the Migration Research Network, an online database which assists with the location of resource materials relating to migration, ethnicity and resettlement. She was a founder of the Northam Multicultural Festival, held each year in October in the Avon Valley to celebrate the cultural and economic contribution of immigrants to Western Australia. She currently stands as the inaugural Director of Curtin University of Technology's 'Migration, Ethnicity, Refugees and Citizenship (MERC) Research Unit' in Perth, launched in 2002. In that same year she was co-organiser of an international conference at Curtin: 'Mediating Human Rights and Democracy: Indonesia, Australia and the Netherlands Human Rights'.
Nonja is a founding member of the Dutch Australian Community Services (DACS) WA Inc; Vice President of the Northam Army Camp Heritage Association; and Chairperson for the Associated Netherlands Societies of WA Culture and Heritage working group. She is also a member of the Ethnic Communities Council Women's Sub-Committee; the Golden Pipeline Interpretation Committee; the LISWA Migrant Archives Advisory Committee; and the National Archives of Australia (WA).
Nonja's work is currently focused on the preservation of Dutch cultural heritage in Australia. She is editing The Dutch Down Under 1606-2006, and is WA Chair of Australia on the Map 1606-2006.
Source of Image: http://www.multicultural.online.wa.gov.au
Resources (authored by Dr Peters)
- Milk and Honey but no Gold: Postwar Migration to WA 1945-1964, Perth: University of Western Australia Press, 2001.
- The Dutch the Move Down Under Nonja Peters (ed). Wolters Kluwer, (Australia), forthcoming January 2006.
- Trading Places: The impact of agency and generations on immigrant entrepreneurship, UWA Press, September 2006 forthcoming.
- Dutch in Business in Australia, The Dutch the Move Down Under, Wolters Kluwer Australia: Sydney, 2006 forthcoming.
- Going Dutch: 400 years of Netherlanders in Australia, in R.Wilding and F.Tilbury (eds) A Changing People: Diverse Contributions to the State of Western Australia, Migration Research Network, 2004.
- Arriving in the Lucky Country' in On the Homefront: Western Australia and World War ll, Jenny Gregory (ed.), University of Western Australia Press, Perth, 1997 pp. 257-264.
- 'Italians in Business in the Inner City of Perth, Western Australia'. In Bosworth,R. and Ugolini, R. (eds) War Internment and Mass Migration: The Italo-Australian Experience 1940-1990. Rome: Gruppo Editoriale Internationale, 1992.
- 'The Networks Migrants use to Run their Businesses Perth Western Australia', The Entrepreneur in the Drivers' Seat, The European Foundation for Management Development and Centrum Voor Innovatief Ondernemerschap: Twente, 1992.
- 'Just a Piece of Paper: Dutch Women in Western Australia', Studies in Western Australian History - August 2000.
- 'The Ascetic Anorexic', Social Analysis, Vol 37, March, 1995, pp. 49 -56.
- 'Mixed Embeddedness: Does it really explain immigrant enterprise?', International Journal of Entrepreneurial Behaviour and Research. May 2002.
- Choice or Chance: Self-employment among the Vietnamese in Perth, Western Australia, in Asian Orientations, Studies in Western Australian History, Jan Gothard (ed.), 1996, pp. 32-53.
- 2003: John Curtin Prime Ministerial Library website: From Aliens to Australians; Conference Proceedings' from Curtin to Coombs: War and Peace in Australia, 25 March.
- 2004: Asylum: The Tide of Public Opinion, Migration, Ethnicity, Refugees and Citizenship (MERC) Research Unit, Curtin University of Technology website
- 2003: Whose Business is it? Migrants in Business in Western Australia, Writer Nonja Peters; Producer; Northern Suburbs Migrant Resource Centre (NSMRC); Film Maker, Paolo Alberton.
- Department of Immigration and Indigenous Affairs, Integrated Humanitarian Settlement Strategy (IHSS) Client Satisfaction Survey Report. 2003.
- Immigration Complex Buildings: Victoria Quay, Heritage Council of Western Australia: A Report, 2001.
- Graylands and Swanbourne Immigration Camps, Centre for History, University of Western Australia, A Heritage Study, 1996.
- Point Walter Army Camp, Centre for History, University of Western Australia, A Heritage Study. 1996.
- The Holden Camp, Centre for History, University of Western Australia, A Heritage Study. 1993.
- 'Immigrant Entrepreneurs in Small Business In Western Australia', A Report by the Small Business Development Corporation, July. 1992:
- 'Diversity is Great Mate', A study of community relations in an inner-city area of Perth, Western Australia. Multicultural and Ethnic Affairs Commission of WA, Perth; Office of Multicultural Affairs, Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, Canberra. 1989.
- The Filipino People, Health professionals. Commissioned by Health Promotions, ethnic liaison unit, Health Department W.A 1987.
- The Croats, Serbs and Macedonians, Health Promotions, Ethnic Liaison Unit, Health Department WA. 1987.
- Hans Arkeveld's 'Refugees and Political Cadavers 1982', in Interpreting the Collection, Curtin Art Gallery,2004.
- Transpositions: Dutch Australians Art in Context, Catalogue accompanying the exhibition, 2002.
- Working it Out: Cultural Diversity and the Western Australian Economy, Catalogue, Library and Information Services of Western Australia LISWA, Alexander Library Building, Perth. 1995.
- Three entries: The Dutch; Immigrant Entrepreneurs; and The Labour Market Policy and Migration, Encyclopedia of Western Australia, Jan Gothard (ed), UWA Press, 2004 forthcoming.
- The Dutch in Western Australia, pp.272-272, in J. Jupp (ed.) The Australian People, Cambridge University Press: Cambridge, UK, 2001.
Elly Zierke, Mieke Smid, Pam Snelleman (editors)
Old ties, new beginnings, Dutch women in Australia
Currum Downs, Vic: Dutch Care Ltd, 1997
Coming to Australia
Croydon, NSW: Pieter Koster, 1997
The story of the Dutch Australian Society Neerlandia: 50 years
Narrabeen, NSW: Das Neerlandia, 2004
Where waters meet: Bonegilla: the Dutch migrant experience
North Brighton, Vic: Erasmus Foundation, 1997
Select List of Community Support Groups
For a complete listing of Dutch clubs and organisations in Australia by state, see:
The Dutch Australian Community Action Federation, Queensland
Or VIC: PO Box 531, Blackburn 3130; Phone 9874 6972 for telephone support; assistance with forms; pension queries; translations; referrals to professional services; information about Dutch clubs etc.
Federation of Ethnic Communities' Councils of Australia
PO Box 344 Curtin, ACT 2605
Phone:02 6282 5755
Fax: 02 6282 5734