Immigration is a central fact of the Australian story. Most of us came to be here through it and those who didn't had their lives profoundly shaped by it. Always a source of controversy, public discussion about immigration policy may sometimes have reflected badly upon Australian people, but the social and cultural diversity that immigration has produced never has. This diversity has been the source of our energy and innovation. With each wave of arrivals to Australia, new ideas, skills and ambitions have made us stronger, richer and more outward looking and self aware. In that sense, not only does our diversity give us strength, but it defines us. We are 'Australian in our difference'.
This exhibition celebrates Australian difference by focusing on the ways that women from diverse cultures, particularly, but not exclusively, those who came in the latter part of the twentieth century, have contributed to Australian society through their roles in the home, family, community leadership and public life. It not only aims to highlight the achievements of some remarkable women, but to add to the growing scholarly and public discussion about migration as a 'gendered process'; one that is now undergone by more women than men, not only in Australia, but on a global scale.
We also hope that our focus on case studies and life stories, along with our attempts to link these stories to information about archives and other relevant resources, will encourage people to think about capturing the stories of women in their own community, and alerting public repositories and organisations such as the Australian Women's Archives Project to the existence of historical material that should be saved for posterity. The choice of examples in any exhibition is somewhat arbitrary, but we have attempted to cover all of Australia and showcase a variety of ethnic communities. A limiting factor, however, was always the availability of material from which we could research our case studies. We recognise that for every person whose story is told, there are ten others that remain hidden from view. We call upon the community to assist us with the important task of revealing these stories, so that the exhibition can grow, limited not by the availability of archival material but only by time, money and other practical constraints!
- Australian Government: The Department of Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs
- Australian Women's Archives Project Register
- Federation of Ethnic Communities' Councils of Australia
- Timeline of Twentieth Century Australian Immigration History