25 / 2007
Rebeka Mesarić Žabčić

The lifestyle of the Croatian emigration corpus in Australia: experiences, opinions and standpoints of young Australian Croats

In the beginning of the 21st century, the Australian Croats represent one of the largest ethnic communities in Australia. The Republic of Croatia as a traditional emigration country belongs in the group of European states with relatively largest a number of emigrants or citizens outside own borders; in such context the work outlines the lifestyle of the Croatian emigration corpus in Australia, based in experiences, views and standpoints of the young generation of Australian Croats. Established are four massive emigration waves from Croatia. The period from 1880ies to World War I is considered the first larger emigration wave to overseas lands and emigration being caused by politics and economy. After World War II, the second large wave of emigration of Croats begins, caused by insufficient development of the country and as well by communist regime in the former state. The next larger emigration wave of Croatian citizens began in the sixties of the previous century, induced by the liberalisation of the state policy regarding the so-called temporary work abroad, to Western European countries, and caused by the poor condition of labour market in Croatia and Western European labour market demands. In the nineties of the previous century, the fourth greater wave of emigration of Croats across the borders of their native state began due to the aggression on the Republic of Croatia; the so-called forced migration began of a certain number of Croats from the major territory of the Republic of Croatia, and from Bosnia and Herzegovina as well.

In the first part, the contribution studies the historical dimension of Croatian emigrants in Australia while in the second stress is on the fieldwork that was carried out in 2003 in Australia, and is based on an analysis of interviews taken with the young generation of Croatian emigrants living in the state of New South Wales. Based on past researches, a reconstruction of the historical context is presented and an analysis of emigration; on the foundations of existing experiences, views and standpoints of the young generation of Croatian emigrants some conclusions were made on the lifestyle of the Croatian emigration corpus in the multicultural society of Australia. The selected cases indicate that the young generation of Australian Croats considers the knowledge of English language and post secondary education crucial for success and the achievement of wanted life and business goals. Through the increased interest in higher education, the younger generation of Croatian emigrants pointed out that they succeeded exclusively by adequate education to accomplish their goals, influence on the change of their social status and lifestyle. At the same time, the young Australian Croats give emphasis to insufficient practicing of the Croatian language, which could in due course result in total integration in the Australian multicultural society, and that they are not adequately represented in the existing associations, clubs and societies, which will in the future lead to problems regarding the taking over of the responsibility of guiding the Croatian community in Australia.