PRIVATE MEMBERS' STATEMENTS
POLISH ASSOCIATION ANNIVERSARY
Mr SULLIVAN (Wollongong) [5.15]: It gives me great pleasure to report to the House about a most interesting and enjoyable occasion held on Sunday last, 26 May. The Polish Association Centre in Wollongong was the venue to celebrate two major anniversaries for that organisation. The centre comprises a community hall, a licensed club and a three classroom school. The celebration marked the fortieth anniversary of the establishment of the Polish Association and school in Wollongong and also the thirtieth anniversary of the completion of the Polish Association hall, which is the major building on the site. Since then the association has added the licensed club on the southern side and the new three-room school complex on the northern side of the hall, which gives it a significant structure to serve the needs of the Polish community.
Many of the members of the Illawarra Polish community that founded the association immigrated straight after the second world war, often as displaced persons. They came to the Illawarra looking for a new life and, of course, with the aim of materially improving their wellbeing. They integrated extremely well into the local community. Over the years the community accumulated the resources to establish this major centre. It is a credit to those who were involved in the establishment of that organisation 40 years ago in 1956 and who then saw the construction of the hall, the licensed club and the school. It is interesting that Australia has undergone a second wave of Polish immigration. This has happened since the fall of the communist regime in Poland in the last
10 to 15 years. That has seen another group of Polish people establish themselves in the Illawarra. They are now linking with the older Polish community, which has been in the Illawarra since the end of the Second World War, and they are revitalising the community in Wollongong.
Several hundred members of the community, as well as a number of dignitaries, attended the celebrations on Sunday. I was there representing the Premier. The celebrations were attended by the Lord Mayor of the City of Wollongong, consular representatives from the Polish Embassy, representatives from the New South Wales Polish Federation and several visitors whom I have met at other functions that I have attended there. They seem to travel regularly from Sydney to Wollongong and have a close bond with the Polish community in Wollongong, although they are not residents of the Illawarra. The activities for the day began with a lunch, followed by speeches and the presentation of certificates and medallions.
It was enjoyable to see people who had worked on the site - men who had physically laboured on the building, women who had provided the refreshments for the many functions held there over the years and others who had played a significant part in the establishment of either the school or the licensed club - being presented with certificates and medallions. The presentation was followed by the official opening and dedication of the new three-classroom school and after that entertainment was provided by both adults and children. An enjoyable aspect of being the member for Wollongong is having the opportunity to attend a diverse range of functions of a wide range of cultural and interest-based community organisations. It was a great pleasure for me and my wife to represent the Premier on Sunday, to enjoy the hospitality and good cheer of the Polish community and join in celebrating these two important anniversaries: the fortieth anniversary of the establishment of the association and the thirtieth anniversary of the establishment of the community hall.
Mr AQUILINA (Riverstone - Minister for Education and Training, and Minister Assisting the Premier on Youth Affairs) [5.20]: It is with great pleasure that I note the words of congratulation of the honourable member for Wollongong on behalf of the Polish Association in his electorate. Wollongong is a delightful place which has a great multicultural mix. Many migrant communities have settled in Wollongong over decades and made a great fist of contributing to the culture of this nation. Wollongong has many individual communities with their own unique sense of identity, yet together they make a unique multicultural contribution to the Australian way of life. I am sure that the Polish community in the electorate of Wollongong is one such community.
I noted with interest the comments of the honourable member for Wollongong about the spirit of these ethnic communities, in the sense that they have a lot of get up and go. They organise themselves to establish halls and classes to maintain their language and culture. They do this with a lot of voluntary dedication and self-sacrifice because they want to ensure that their heritage lives on as part of the Australian way of life. It is a pleasure to visit Wollongong and to note its multicultural contribution to Australia. I know that the honourable member for Wollongong has made an effort in relation to these ethnic communities, and I compliment him for his support of all his local ethnic communities, especially the Polish community in Wollongong at the celebrations on Sunday.