Polish Australian
Poland has been a source country of immigrants to Australia
Australia , officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a country in the Southern Hemisphere comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous smaller islands in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. It is the world's sixth-largest country by total area...

, in particular in the post-war period. Immigration from Poland has long tapered off, with Polish Australian population now part of the mainstream Australian community.


In 2006 52,254 Australian residents declared they were born in Poland
Poland , officially the Republic of Poland , is a country in Central Europe bordered by Germany to the west; the Czech Republic and Slovakia to the south; Ukraine, Belarus and Lithuania to the east; and the Baltic Sea and Kaliningrad Oblast, a Russian exclave, to the north...

. Cities with the largest Polish populations were Melbourne (16,439), Sydney (12,514), Adelaide (5,859) and Perth (5,142).

The Polish-born Australian resident population predominantly were Australian citizens (90.3%), Christian (82.4%) and used Polish at home (70.0%). Around 78% arrived in Australia before 1990 .

In addition, in 2006 163,802 Australian residents declared they had Polish ancestry, either alone or in combination with one other ancestry.

A significant group of Polish-Australian residents may be today the expatriate community of Polish descent from many countries, like the United States, Canada
Polish Canadians
Polish Canadians are Citizens of Canada with Polish ancestry, and Poles who immigrated to Canada from abroad. According to the 2001 census by Statistics Canada, 984,585 Canadians claim full or partial Polish ancestry.-History:...

, France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

, and Great Britain, where numbers of members of the Polonia
The Polish diaspora refers to people of Polish origin who live outside Poland. The Polish diaspora is also known in modern Polish language as Polonia, which is the name for Poland in Latin and in many other Romance languages....

 are counted in millions or hundreds of thousands. A well known example of this is kind of Polish Australian is the Nobel Prize-winning writer J.M. Coetzee, a South Africa
South Africa
The Republic of South Africa is a country in southern Africa. Located at the southern tip of Africa, it is divided into nine provinces, with of coastline on the Atlantic and Indian oceans...

n with partially Polish origins who has recently immigrated and settled in Australia.


The first Pole known to have arrived in Australia was Joseph Potaski
Joseph Potaski
Joseph Potaski was the first Jewish Pole to arrive in Australia, and one of the first convicts to arrive in Van Diemen's Land on the Ocean. Joseph Potaski worked hard to establish himself as a successful farmer in colonial Hobart. This was however undone by the exploits of his family...

, who was sent there as a convict from Great Britain
Great Britain
Great Britain or Britain is an island situated to the northwest of Continental Europe. It is the ninth largest island in the world, and the largest European island, as well as the largest of the British Isles...

 in 1803. The first settlers from Poland arrived in South Australia
South Australia
South Australia is a state of Australia in the southern central part of the country. It covers some of the most arid parts of the continent; with a total land area of , it is the fourth largest of Australia's six states and two territories.South Australia shares borders with all of the mainland...

 in 1856 and settled in the Clare Valley
Clare Valley
The Clare Valley is one of Australia's oldest wine regions, best known for Riesling wines. It lies in the Mid North of South Australia, approximately 120 km north of Adelaide. The valley runs north-south, with Main North Road as the main thoroughfare....

 region in a place later called Polish Hill River. The first mass migration happened in the late 1940s when large groups of displaced person
Displaced person
A displaced person is a person who has been forced to leave his or her native place, a phenomenon known as forced migration.- Origin of term :...

s who could not return to a free Poland migrated to Australia after World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

, 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
Australian Institute of Polish Affairs
Australian Institute of Polish Affairs also known as AIPA, is an independent, non-political voluntary organisation, established in 1991 in Australia to inform the Australian public about issues related to Polish history, politics, society and culture...

 (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.


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External links

  • An article on the use of the Polish language by Polish Australians, specifically those in Melbourne:
    • Fitzgerald, M. and Debski, R. (2006). Internet Use of Polish by Polish Melburnians: Implications for Maintenance and Teaching. Language Learning and Technology, 10(1), 87-109. Retrieved 10 August 2006 from http://llt.msu.edu/vol10num1/fitzdebski/default.html .
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