Maltese Australians are Australian citizens who are fully or partially of Maltese descent or Malta-born people who reside in Australia. While most of them emigrated to Australia from Malta, a number emigrated from the United Kingdom where they had settled after having been expelled from Egypt, as holders of British passports, during the Suez Crisis. According to the 2016 Census, there were 175,563 people of Maltese descent in Australia and 37,614 Malta-born people residing in the country at the moment of the census.
37,614 (by birth, 2016 Census)
175,563 (by ancestry, 2016 Census)
|English · Maltese · Italian|
|Related ethnic groups|
The first Maltese to arrive in Australia was possibly inmate John Pace in June 1790, though it is not clear if he was sent from Malta or if he was Maltese at all. The first certain Maltese to arrive in Australia were convicts around 1810. The first Maltese immigrant (as opposed to convict or bonded servant) is thought to have been Antonio Azzopardi who arrived in 1838. Many attempts were made at organised mass migration throughout the 19th century but it was only in 1883 the first group of 70 labourers (and nine stowaways) arrived.
Historically, Maltese immigrants were subject to the White Australia policy. In 1916, a group of 214 Maltese agricultural labourers left for Melbourne aboard a French ship, due to arrive on the date of the conscription referendum. When this became known in Australia, supporters of the "No" vote claimed that the government was importing cheap "coloured labour" to replace Australian workers conscripted for overseas service. The Maltese were called "coloured job jumpers" and the Australian Workers' Union described them as a "black menace". Realising the political danger of allowing the Maltese to land, Prime Minister Billy Hughes – who supported the "Yes" vote – refused them entry under the Immigration Restriction Act 1901, and they were forced to land in Nouméa, New Caledonia. This decision was controversial, as the Maltese were popular among ex-servicemen due to their support for the war effort. After three months, they were allowed to re-enter Australia, but only after being detained upon arrival for another two weeks. The migrants became known in Malta as "il-tfal ta Billy Hughes" ("the children of Billy Hughes").
Group and mass migration gradually picked up, first, to Queensland and, after World War I, to Sydney whose automobile industry drew many. Immigration was not without difficulty as Maltese workers tended to be looked down upon and restrictions and quotas were applied. A significant percentage of the Maltese immigrants had intended to stay only temporarily for work but many settled in Australia permanently. Maltese immigration to Australia reached its peak during the 1960s. The majority of Maltese immigrants reside in Melbourne's western suburbs of Sunshine (especially on Glengala Rd) and St Albans, and in Sydney's western suburbs of Greystanes and Horsley Park. The Maltese, as in their home country, are predominantly Roman Catholic.
One of the first women to migrate from Malta to Australia was Carmela Sant in 1915. The move was prompted by her husband Giuseppe Ellul, who had migrated in 1913. Giuseppe Ellul was a stonemason in Mosta before moving to Australia to commence a successful career in sugar cane and dairy farming in Mackay, Queensland. In 1916 the couple gave birth to the first born Maltese Australian, Joseph Ellul.
259 Maltese boys and 51 Maltese girls were sent alone to Catholic institutions in Western and South Australia between 1950 and 1965, following negotiations between the Maltese and Western Australian governments which had started in 1928 when Perth-based Maltese priest Father Raphael Pace urged the Christian Brothers to include Maltese children in its emerging migration scheme. Instead of receiving a better education as their Maltese parents hoped for, many of them were exploited for building works, and were never scholarised in English, while also forgetting their own Maltese language. Similar to other children living with the Christian Brother, the children were abused and measures were taken to not allow or limit contact with their family members in Malta.
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