With an effort of expat Aussies to promote the country they left behind, I reflect on the significance of this article:
Australians are the most likely to donate and help others in need.
Well, what a surprise! Actually, not really. When my parents migrated to Australia, they left everything behind. They left Europe with a single suitcase, said good-bye to their parents and thought they would never see them ever again.
Some say Aussies are the greatest gamblers. It takes an incredible will to risk everything and lots of Aussie immigrants had nothing more to lose after the second world war. My father told me that Australia was the only country that would take him and he was eternally grateful. So he worked hard and studied hard and did night school and became a mechanical engineer. My mother gave birth to my brother the first year after she arrived in Australia. My father continued working at the railways at Richmond and Spencer Street Station. He continued studying at night school. He became an electrical engineer. Two years later I was born. Then he began working for ICIANZ in Deer Park. We were the first to have running water because my father built a rainwater tank to collect the water running off from the roof of the bungalow. We heated and cooked with a kerosene heater. Our neighbours were Germans and Hungarians, Ukranians, Yugoslavians, Maltese, Italian, Polish, anything but Australian. They all became “new Australians”. I was born a first generation Australian. I learnt English in kindergarten, a year before my primary school colleagues. I remember my father drawing up the plans for the parts of the houses our neighbours had built before town planning rules were introduced which required that every addition needed approved building plans. I remember my mother talking to the neighbours in Czech or German or French, to find out how she could help them. I remember “Auntie Margaret” bringing self -knitted baby clothes for my younger brothers, because she had become good friends with my mother after they both bore their first child in Melbourne in 1952.
I once asked my mother if her marriage would have survived if they had stayed in Europe. She came to a lonely shack with no electricity or running water, after a forty-five day trip on a ship from Genoa. She could not run home to mother back in Europe.
My folks learnt to pull together, to help each other. It was a matter of survival. And survive they did. Gamble? Well, no, not in the sense of throwing money down an unknown path. But take a chance in the “lucky country”? Sure did! And they were the most generous and helpful and Christian people I know. So I believe it when you tell me the Aussies are tops in helping those in need. I am after-all, still an Aussie, despite my many years now living in Europe.
As an Aussie visitor of mine said to me, you can take Lilly out of Australia, but you can’t take the Aussie out of Lilly.
This reflection was prompted by a recent FaceBook post but the original article is actually from 201o – which I overlooked when I wrote the above.