Migration Heritage Project

image arriving by ship

The Migration Heritage Project (MHP) is dedicated to defining, recording, protecting and promoting migrant heritage. However our work is still only beginning and the MHP aim is to ensure a sustainable presence in relation to migration heritage in our region. This can only happen with support and input from a variety of sectors including the migrant communities, the cultural services sector, government agencies, business and industry.

The Migration Heritage Project is a community initiative designed to protect and promote the heritage of Illawarra's diverse cultural communities. The project aims to achieve this goal by linking with a wide range of communities, talking about the importance of protecting our heritage and providing the resources that groups and individuals need to record and celebrate their heritage.

MHP is an independent group, not aligned to any government or business interests, with strong support from the wider community. Our representatives come from cultural organisations and clubs, from local and state government, from service providers and from the University of Wollongong. Membership of MHP is open, however you do not need to be a member of our group to be involved in our work. We received funding from the IMB Community Foundation in 2002 and in-kind support from Wollongong City Council & the University of Wollongong as well as funding and support from the Migration Heritage Centre NSW.

The Migration Heritage Project was formed to recognise and support the heritage of migration in Wollongong by encouraging individuals, families and organisations to recognise that their stories, records, photographs and objects are a valuable source of migrant history in the Wollongong and Illawarra Region. To not begin the recording of such items will realise that an important source of history will be lost. The Migration Heritage Project is committed to educating the migrant communities and their families on how to record their personal history and items thus begin a database of what you or your family may have at home that is of historical migrant significance. The Migration Heritage Project at this point do not want to collect any items as they recognise how precious these items are to the individual and families and therefore should be kept by the families.

Since 2001 a group of people met regularly. They were motivated by the loss of people who were formative in the development of their communities, without their stories being told or recorded for future generations. The first meetings were about finding ways to record their histories so they become part of the story of Wollongong's rich social and cultural history for everyone.

In 2002 the group was incorporated. The IMB Community Foundation funded the project in 2002 and 2003. The project relies on donations, in-kind support from individuals and local institutions. Wollongong City Council have been generous in their support and assistance.

MHP is about learning from the community what it thinks is important about their history. It is a grass roots project which receives energy from the people who have made history. The MHP wants to make it possible for people to explore their lives as part of the process of collecting and valuing their contributions to the city. The MHP see their role as meeting the needs of individuals as much as collecting social history for future generations.

The MHP encourages anyone to attend meetings, contribute ideas for developing the project or identifying people at risk, or material that needs to be recorded. We also encourage people to join the MHP.

Each and everyone's journey to Australia is unique and special, but do you know if this information will be available in the years to come when perhaps there is no-one around to be able to tell your story. Your history and its connection to Wollongong is important to retain, not only for the future generations that may be your descendents, but also to the story of Wollongong.

The MHP is working towards ensuring that the communities in Wollongong start working on preserving their stories, documents, photographs and objects so that this information is not lost to us. This is a large and important undertaking which starts with you the individual. We do not want to take these photographs, object, documents or information away from you. These are yours and should remain yours unless you wish to donate them. At this point the MHP is trying to just let you know how important you are to the Project and to the history of Wollongong and is trying to get an idea of what information is out there and we can do this by you allowing information to be collected that you feel comfortable with us having. This will be kept in the MHP database and/or perhaps with your community worker or organisation and cannot be used without your permission. Possible future use is depositing copies only of this information with the local historical society, local or state library or even state archives. Who knows, maybe one day we will have a museum in Wollongong to house some migrant history, something which is sadly lacking at this very point and time. Once again, whatever course of action we take with any information we receive, this information will not be used without your express permission and if copies are ever deposited to any local or state archives, strict control over access will be applied, that is, who, what, why or when people can access the information is entirely up to the owners of the information and you.

Documenting materials such as photographs, letters, videos, oral history, newsletters, reports, minutes of meetings collected by the migrants in Wollongong are an important and interesting part of Wollongong's history. We need to look after these for future generations because they tell the story of our Wollongong migrants and their experiences of settling in the Illawarra. We look forward to hearing and seeing your stories.

Meetings are held in the Wollongong City Council Building and other venues around the city on the first Thursday of each month. The MHP encourages anyone to attend meetings, contribute ideas for developing the project or identifying stories or materials that need to be recorded.

A newsletter is published periodically and past copies are available on this website.

The MHP will continue to identify opportunites to expand the awareness of the rich cultural heritage in our area and attract commitment to ensure its growth. The MHP would love to hear from any one who has been involved in heritage projects in the past or is interested in pursuing some element of their own heritage in the future. Come on board and be inspired!


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Become a member

If Illawarra’s cultural heritage matters to you, you may want to stay in touch with MHP and become a member.


For further information:

Migration Heritage Project
PO Box 1589
South Coast Mail Centre
Wollongong NSW 2521




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