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Introduction

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Front cover of book, Blended Voices.

Blended Voices is a window into remarkable lives. With candour and courage, 39 people tell their personal stories of migrating and settling in Australia, speaking of the hardships and well as the delights. They talk about leaving their homeland and arriving in Australia; the differences they experienced in a new country; learning to speak English; building communities; and living and working as part of a new society.

The women and men who tell their stories in Blended Voices come from 24 different countries and migrated to Australia between 1950 and 2000. All of them came under different circumstances. Some came as refugees while others joined family, sought better job prospects or new lives. Some people migrated as children or teenagers and have grown up profoundly influenced by two cultures. Others left their home country as adults and faced the challenges of beginning again.

Blended Voices has been produced by the City of Kingston with the assistance of residents and members of the local community. The participants all live in Clayton South, Oakleigh South and Clarinda in the South Eastern suburbs of Melbourne. These suburbs form vibrant communities, remarkable for their cultural and linguistic diversity. Since the initial wave of European migration to Melbourne after the Second World War, the area has continued to attract people from many different cultures. It is now home to people from over 50 different countries. In fact, Of the 23,000 residents living in Clayton South, Clarinda and Oakleigh South, 57% were born outside Australia and a significant proportion of the remaining residents have parents who were born overseas.

The Federation Community Projects Program, which supported this project, is an initiative of the Commonwealth Government of Australia. Through this program the Commonwealth Government provides funds to communities to commemorate the Centenary of Federation in Australia in 2001. In supporting Blended Voices the Commonwealth acknowledges the many different people who have made Australia their home and the contribution they have made to the community. It recognises the vital role of migration in the development of Australian society during the 100 years since Federation.

Since 1788, migration has been central to the development of Australian society and during the last 50 years, particularly, migration has brought together people from vastly different cultural backgrounds. These people brought with them so much more than their luggage. By living here and participating in society, they have changed the face of Australia. The stories told in Blended Voices challenge us to reflect not only on the difficulties faced by migrants in their homelands but also by the situations they face on arriving and settling in Australia.

Each person in this book, in his or her own way, speaks of the dreams they brought with them and the different way these hopes have been realised. Above all, these are the stories of belonging; of individuals embracing opportunities in a different country while cultivating and maintaining ties to their original culture and homeland.

Article Cat. Blended Voices
Article Ref. 173

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