Canberra’s 100 birthday Celebrations by the Polish Community
The first settlers from Poland arrived in South Australia in 1856 and settled in the Clare Valley region in a place later called Polish Hill River. The first mass migration happened in the late 1940s when large groups of displaced persons who could not return to a free Poland migrated to Australia after World War II, including soldiers from the Polish Independent Carpathian Brigade (“rats of Tobruk”). Between 1947 and 1954, the Poland-born population increased from 6,573 to 56,594 people.
In the early 1980s there was further Polish migration to Australia. The emergence of the Solidarity trade union movement and the declaration of martial law in Poland at the end of 1981 coincided with a further relaxation of Polish emigration laws. During the period 1980-91 Australia granted permanent entry to a large number of Polish migrants, many arriving as refugees who soon got a reputation for being hard working. In 1991, an independent, voluntary organisation was established to inform the Australian public about issues related to Polish history, politics, society and culture. The immediate trigger for establishing The Australian Institute of Polish Affairs (also known as AIPA) was strong public interest in the historic changes that swept Central Europe in 1989 and led to the collapse of communism.
Mount Kosciuszko, the highest mountain in Australia (not including its external territories). It was named by the Polish explorer Count Paul Edmund Strzelecki in 1840, in honour of the Polish and American national hero and hero of the American Revolutionary War General Tadeusz Kościuszko.
Today, Polish first, second and third generation Poles are one of the most educated immigrant groups in Australia, significantly contributing to the Australian industry and government as well as academia and community organisations.