PRESERVING YOUR LOCAL HISTORY MALTESE COMMUNITY WORKSHOP
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Objects, Records and Oral History Workshop for the Maltese Community
Migration Heritage Project Maltese
community workshop held George Cross Falcons Club
The Migration Heritage Project held this workshop
for the Maltese Community on 15 June 2004 at the George Cross
Falcons Club in Cringila. The Maltese community, as it is now,
is an ageing population and there is the very real potential that
all historical information about the community will be lost unless
some measures are taken to ensure that it is recorded and preserved.
The new generation is blending with the Australian culture and
unfortunately are not aware of their role in ensuring that their
parents or grandparents stories and objects are kept. Some are
genuinely not really interested. Lorraine Vargas’ idea is
to get the information and to preserve it. This information can
then be accessed by schools, or even the wider community of Wollongong
. As with most migrant history settlement in Wollongong, little
is held, known or acknowledged by way of records, objects or museums.
The George Cross Falcons Club documents are mainly ‘club
documents’ but they also contain information about the Maltese
community settlement in Wollongong; for example from the parish
priest about the period before the club was built. Answers to
questions like what was the migration pattern for the Maltese
people can be found in such documents and therefore we now know
that like most European migrants the people came before World
War I and after World War II. But do you have any idea about who
the first families were?
How would the history of the Maltese Club help the Maltese community
find out about their community? The Maltese Club is the only Maltese
place in the Illawarra as a ‘centre’ for the Maltese.
Also the Warrawong church (St Francis of Assisi Catholic Church)
is an important focal and historical point for the Maltese community
in Wollongong . The Warrawong hall was used as a church during
the day and at night for dancing (social functions). The priest
was very important. The Maltese built the church and then the
club in 1951. St Francis of Assisi is the Maltese church. If the
Community Worker doesn’t work on this documentation process,
no one will do it.
Maltese migrants had immigrated to the South Coast
of NSW well before World War 2. Many had also migrated to the
cane fields of Queensland and northern NSW in the early 1950s
and before that there were some Maltese living in Port Kembla
and predominately in the Cringila area.
In 1951, the Maltese in Wollongong got together and decided to
establish a club to help the newer migrants. Many of the newer
migrants could not speak English, so the Maltese migrants from
Wollongong who could speak English would to go to Sydney Harbour
to welcome the new arrivals and bring them to Port Kembla and
find them accommodation and employment. Employment was usually
found for them at the steelworks. This service was provided to
all Maltese newcomers.
Mr Lorry Pave, John Mallia, Joe Cassar, Joe Magro and others decided
it was now time to start a proper club so they organised a committee
meeting which was held in a tin shed across from the club or otherwise
they would meet in each others houses respectively. A fee of 10
cents per week was given by each member which went towards funding
for the Club.
A Group of volunteers begin building the club
In 1953 two block lots were bought for 200 pounds each. In 1955
two basement rooms were built all by volunteers. These two rooms
were used as a place where the Maltese Community could meet to
play cards and in no time at all the club had a soccer team and
joined the business houses competition. A few years later members
were asked to donate to the club the sum of 50 pounds for material
so that the club can build an upstairs section. Once again, all
the work was done by volunteer labour. This work was started in
the 1960s and it finished in a few years. This is where the club
is today. The club has a billiard table, table tennis, chess boards
for everyone to use and it also has a bocci pit. Every Sunday
the club has bingo. The George Cross Falcons Club has hosted many
Maltese and local dignitaries over the years including a visit
in 1992 by Harry Cordina the President of Malta at the time. The
years following has seen the exterior of the Club bricked and
extensions to the kitchen. The last three years the club has not
been doing so well and has seen patronage of the decline to the
point where it was almost ready to close its doors. But, today
we are happy to say that we have now got a Welfare Officer available
to all the Maltese in the community and the club facilities are
still here for everyone to use and everyone is most welcomed to
use the club facilities.
This workshop held at the George Cross Falcons
Club on Tuesday 15 June 2004 and allowed the Community Worker,
Lorraine Vargas, to talk about why the collecting and documenting
of records is important and her role in collating all this information.
The Chairperson of the Migration Heritage Project, Franca Facci
, spoke about the Migration Heritage Project and its overview
of collection processes. George Bajjada, President of the George
Cross Falcons Club spoke about what support can be expected from
the Club and the Maltese Community of Wollongong.
The Community Relations Commission for a Multicultural NSW provided funds for an exhibition of the heritage of a migrant community in the Illawarra and some preliminary work on the heritage of another community. The MHP approached the Maltese community to see if they were interested in being the community highlighted with this funding and they took up the offer very enthusiastically.The exhibition was held 2-16 September 2006 in the foyer of the Wollongong City Council Building in Burelli Street. The exhibition will go online on the MHP website soon.
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