Migrants Enriching Australia was born of a project to assist ethnic community groups preserve and manage their material heritage.

This story consists of 21 story objects - including videos, audio recordings, images and text - and two educational resources available at the bottom of the page.

During the research a few people emerged who vividly carried a particular story about immigration and settlement to Victoria. These included Peter Yiannoudes who introduced Greek films to Melbourne in the 1950s. He carried his portable projector on a train and visited small country towns and even a farmhouse around Victoria, in order to share this dynamic Greek heritage with Greek expatriates.

Janina Archabuz (Pani Babscha) is a Polish grandmother who carefully designed and sewed multiple copies of intricate costumes for a Polish dance troupe in Ardeer, in Melbourne’s west. Janina is self-taught, however the costumes are exquisitely sewn and meticulously detailed. These costumes gave the Polish group visibility when performing traditional dances in the community, and contributed to their community’s transition from being Poles to being Australians of Polish origin.

The research for the Multicultural Communities’ Collection Project revealed incredibly rich collections – their photographs, documents, costumes and memorabilia from their countries of origin, their community members’ journeys to Australia and the process of settlement into this country and this state - held by community groups, each different and many reliant on individuals who valued their history and their community identity. The project was based on the idea that understanding of and control over community heritage strengthens community identity, which in turn contributes to an Australia which is enriched by diverse ethnic groups living side by side harmoniously.

The Multicultural Communities’ Collection Project began in 2011 - firstly as a project of the then Arts Victoria and later Museums Australia (Victoria). It involved visiting up to 40 ethno specific community groups and providing them with professional assistance to preserve and store their material heritage. There was also training in the documentation and digitisation of these collections, and including them in the web based cataloguing system, Victorian Collections.

Ethnic Communities Council of Victoria (ECCV) is the peak body for Victoria’s multicultural communities and have been advocating their needs and concerns to government for 40 years. It is the principle liaison point between multicultural communities, the government and the wider community. The ECCV welcomed the opportunity to facilitate these two films for Culture Victoria, to share more broadly these stories about immigrants and how they have enriched our community.