Vonnie's View with QT columnist Yvonne Gardiner
Vonnie's View with QT columnist Yvonne Gardiner Ipswich Advertiser

Immigrants make good Australians

G’DAY AUSTRALIA: British immigrants headed for Queensland in 1926.
G’DAY AUSTRALIA: British immigrants headed for Queensland in 1926. State Library Of Queensland

I THINK Australians are more sympathetic than most peoples of the world to the aspirations of immigrants.

Most of us have either come from other countries or have immigrants in our family history.

We know only too well the stresses and hardships associated with being uprooted from a birth country and separated from close relatives.

We have an intimate understanding of the search for a "better life".

I was among thousands of migrants in 1970 to leave the UK and travel half-way across the world to grab an opportunity for a different existence.

As a 10-pound Pom, I hoped to give my nine-month-old son a brighter future than I thought he'd experience in England.

Compared with other newcomers held back by language and employment barriers, I had an easy introduction to life in Australia.

Within a fortnight, I'd found a job in a Melbourne factory that manufactured tools.

On the production line, I operated a polishing machine which was so noisy that conversation with anyone nearby was impossible.

Despite the tedious nature of the job, I was glad to earn a few dollars. At 19 years of age and as a young mother, I had few options regarding employment.

Life in the migrant hostel was bearable, although the food left a lot to be desired.

I remember a lady from Liverpool who was conscientiously teaching Greek and Yugoslavian women how to speak English, with an accent resembling that of the Beatles.

On a few occasions, she was huddled in my wardrobe, hiding in terror from a drunken husband who couldn't leave his bad behaviour behind in their search for a better life.

Within months of arriving, this couple had deserted the Land Down Under to return to more familiar surroundings.

I moved on like a wandering gypsy - from Victoria to Sydney, to Townsville, to Ayr, to Ipswich - bearing a second son along the way.

Every step of the way, I found Australians who were welcoming and generous.

In time, I took up the opportunities that Australia offered by studying and gaining work as a journalist.

Forty-three years after landing in Oz, the English part of me has reduced to a small fraction.

It's plain from what I've seen that most migrants make good citizens. That's why I'm saddened by the resentment directed at those arriving in recent times.

Yes, we need to keep our population at a sensible level. But let's not demonise men and women for wanting a better life.

Given the chance, we'd all be in that boat.


Project in Cornwall shows how to sustain

FOR many years I've wanted to visit the Eden Project in Cornwall, UK. On Tuesday I got the chance.

This massive, groundbreaking set-up is all geared towards true sustainability, something that's often talked about but rarely ever practised.

Built in an old clay pit, the project consists of "biomes" or greenhouses containing different climate zones like "rainforest" or the Mediterranean.

Its founders had an idea "to create a place that explored human dependence on plants and the natural world; a place that might just make a difference".

Its educational tentacles reach as far as India and Kenya, creating gardens and growing food crops.

The associated Post-Mining Alliance guides good practice in mine closure and the regeneration of landscapes and communities.

Essentially, it's a project that aims to steer the human race away from destroying itself.

"Living a sustainable life isn't all about sucking the joy out of living," is the message.

I'd like something similar to the Eden Project to be considered for Ipswich and its disused mining sites.

The benefits would be countless.