Speech - Dr Victor Borg (Australia)

Dr Victor Borg next gave a brief historical outline of the first migrants to Australia and recorded how the Maltese were anxious to preserve their traditions and culture in their new environment. This they did by setting up shops with Maltese names and residing close to one another as a community. Many groups were found working together in factories and local businesses. There was great enthusiasm to build up a Maltese Community, which provided a sense of security and an informal network, which ensured employment and housing opportunities for those who settled there. The Maltese were close in those early years and the intention was to build a solid foundation for those who were to follow in later years.

With the passing of time, however, there was to be a change when many opted to integrate as much as possible with the local system, or even drifted away from the established city areas, in order to enhance better opportunities for their growing children. The preservation of Maltese culture and language was unplanned in the early days of settlement. People felt comfortable mixing within their own community in the secure knowledge that they could obtain help when they needed.

An umbrella Organisation for Maltese groups was formed in 1954 with the name of Maltese Community Council of Victoria (MCCV). This grew into a strong advocate and representative of the Maltese people of the area. Today there are about thirty Maltese organisations working under the auspices of MCCV who worked closely with the Australian Government to ascertain adequate recognition of the Maltese community needs. In 1983 a Centre for the Maltese Community was opened in Victoria. This serves as a venue for community activities and welfare programmes. With such good progress there is room for the community to take further steps to ensure that the Maltese culture and language remain relevant to the Australian-born members of the Maltese community. Special efforts need to be concentrated on getting the young Maltese to be involved in community ventures with an aim to preserving our culture and traditions.

Dr Borg ended by giving a long list of recommendations aimed at procuring aids of all kinds from both the Maltese Government and local Maltese community groups to enhance the Maltese language and culture abroad.

Source: 'Malta' - Maltese Culture Movement, Issues 4,5,6, 2000.

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