The full story
Worthwhile Enterprise: The Migrant Hostel in Springvale records the history of the hostel and the impact it made on the surrounding community of Springvale as well as on Victoria’s broader multicultural landscape. The exhibition was developed by former residents and workers at the migrant centre in collaboration with the Immigration Museum and featured personal stories from migrants at the hostel.
The following is an edited account of the recollections of two couples who arrived at Enterprise with their children in August 1973. They had left the security of their families, friends, social structure, jobs and homes, leaving England to begin a new life in Australia.
The couples have requested to remain anonymous. They are concerned that their empathy for the enormous adjustments many people had to make may be misinterpreted. They say,
’Our recollections are just that, memories of our time at the hostel. Comments about the difficulties faced by certain ethnic groups are not to be taken as derogatory or racial in any manner whatsoever, they are factual and record the enormous adjustments some people had to overcome.’
Initial reactions and social adjustments
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- It was noticed how dirty the house windows appeared to be. We had not seen fly-screens in England and soon found that, not only did the screens keep out the flies, they obviously darkened the windows!
- Many missed the English pub, the regular market or the local coffee shop. A new social framework had to be explored and adopted.
- There were Turkish mothers who were devastated when provided with white sheets for their baby’s cot – these poor women thought that they were being provided with shrouds.
- Others washed their babies in the toilets, until word went round as to their proper purpose.
- The prevalence of flies also required considerable adjustment. Which was worse having flies on you or spraying yourself with the foul-smelling fly repellent?
- Making friends wasn’t difficult – disentangling oneself from ill-chosen acquaintances was infinitely more of a problem!