9.1 Settlement

As we look into the 20th century, it would be relevant to ask a number of specific questions relating to Maltese migrants in Australia however speculative and subjective the answers might be.

There are those who would hope that migrants would overcome the pangs of separation and settle pleasantly in stable economic and psychologic terms. Although many Maltese in Australia still linger for the peaceful village life or the promenade on the sea-front as was life back home 30,40 or 50 years ago, many realise that things have changed irrevocably. When they go back on a much earned holiday, they find that their needs and desires are different from what they use to be, their friends and acquaintances are gone, the magic may not work as it used to do. Moreover, they find that the ties that have grown in Australia are too strong to sever. Their children are grown-up and settled and will not move anywhere. They find that they cannot part from their grand children for more than a few weeks at most. This seems to apply with special force to women - it is an impression that more men than women yearn for retirement in the home country. Whether they like it or not, however, most migrants realise that they have more to lose than to gain by going back to Malta, and so they decide to make Australia their permanent home.

This process of decision is a protracted one. Some are incapable ever to make it and postpone it indefinitely. Evidence of such an irrevocable decision is seen in the Australian citizenship rates for Maltese. It is only after a stay of 12 years or longer that the average Maltese decides to take up Australian citizenship. It takes at least that long for the average Maltese to decide that the benefits of giving up Maltese citizenship outweigh the drawbacks. With the granting of double citizenship by the Malta Government in 1989, one would expect that there will be an increase in applications for Australian citizenship.

Source: Maurice N. Cauchi - Maltese Migrants in Australia, Malta 1990

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