KİMLİK : Expressions of Turkish Identity in Australia Today
After the signing of the bilateral agreement between Australia and Turkey in 1967, the first group of migrants from Turkey arrived in Sydney on 14 October 1968, with the second group arriving at Essendon Airport, Melbourne on 15 November 1968. We also, know that there were other people of Turkish descent in Australia before this time.
Since 1947, Turks from Cyprus had begun to come to Australia and it is known that in 1968 they welcomed the first arrivals from Turkey.
The migrants from Turkey, Cyprus and a number of other countries, arrived in a society where there was little familiarity with their language, religion and culture and wherein order to secure their livelihoods and contribute to the Australian economy, they worked in difficult conditions. At the same time, they worked to protect and develop their cultural values while promoting them. They established mosques, prayer rooms and congregation centre for members of the Alevi community, sporting clubs, social support organisations and, with the support of the state government, successfully opened Saturday Turkish Schools.
The Australian Turkish community is proud to have seen the emergence of dynamic entrepreneurs and recognised successful participants in the politics and the economy, as well as in sports, the arts, education and other professions and sectors. In addition, every year hundreds of our students graduate from universities, technical schools and other recognised courses.
In order to celebrate these developments and the 50th and 70th anniversaries of Turkish migration to Australia, we have worked with the Immigration Museum to produce the Kimlik exhibition and the Sofra Festival. We will continue these celebrations with a football tournament and a seminar series.
This project has been bought to fruition by the dedication and hard work of our volunteers Dr Joy Elley, Nurper Göker, Ümit Uğur, Tanju Yenisey, Feridun Urak and Yüksel Yılmaz. I am indebted to them for their commitment. During this time, our Australian friend Dr Joy Elley’s voluntary work has been highly recognised by others involved in the project and by community members.
Many agencies, in particular, the Victorian Government, the Victorian Multicultural Commission, Sports and Recreation Victoria, the Immigration Museum and it’s General Manager Rohini Kappadath, the Presidency for Turks Abroad and Related Communities, the City of Melbourne and the Commonwealth Bank of Australia have supported this project financially. Thank you for recognising the importance of our community’s cultural heritage and supporting our efforts to increase the respect given to this heritage by the Australian community.
Cemal Akdeniz OAM
Moreland Turkish Association