Throughout the sixty years of its existence, the Council has played an active role in voicing opinions of the Polish commu-nity in Australia, lobbying and providingassistance to Poles in need. It also supported Polish aspirations to independence and democracy. In early 1980s the Council set up the Australian Na-tional Committee for Relief to Poland, whose patron was Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser. In 1981 the Help Poland Live Appeal collected $2.3 million, including $1 million donated by the Aus-tralian government.
In the following years the Council played a vital role in organising political and economic support to back the Polish people in their struggle for democracy. It also organised support for refugees who encountered difficulties settling in Australia.
Messagee from Prime Minister Julia Gillard
It is with great pleasure that I send my best wishes to everyone attending the an-nual convention of the Polish Community Council of Australia and extend my warm-est congratulations to the Council as it celebrates its 60th anniversary.
The efforts of the Council and the broader Polish Australian community contribute richly to the success of our diverse, multi-cultural society and help reinforce the bond of friendship between Poland and Australia.
We remember the fact that the first con-tact between Polish people and Australia occurred in 1696, when several Poles joined Willem de Vlamingh’s Dutch expe-dition to explore the Western Australian coast, while the great Polish-Australian explorer Paul Edmund Strzelecki memo-rably named Australia’s highest mountain after the Polish-American hero Tadeusz Kościuszko. In the postwar pe-riod, Polish immigration made a decisive contribution to Australia’s fortunes. Be-tween 1947 and 1954 alone, the Polish Australian population increased an in-credible nine-fold.
Today we honour the contribution of the Polish community, not only sharing pride in the success of the high achievers like Karl Kruszelnicki, Alicia Molik, Michael Klim and Magda Szubanski – but also the efforts of those countless Polish Austra-lians whose hard work and sacrifices helped build the prosperous, confident nation we now enjoy.
It took remarkable courage to travel from a different culture and build a new future in a strange land. Despite these chal-lenges, our Polish community has found a place to belong where they are welcomed and valued – a place to always call home. You have my admiration and my thanks.
Polish Embassy Newsletter No. 2