The social profile and the organizational landscape of Polish diaspora, known as ‘Polonia’, in Australia has been undergoing a significant change: sociodemographic (ageing), sociocultural (diversification) and sociopolitical (integration and assimilation). The ‘wave-type’ immigration (1947-56 and 1980-89), combined with the sudden decline in immigration after Poland’s independence (1989) and accession to the EU (2004), resulted in the rapid shrinking, ageing and internal differentiation of the Polish community. The pre-1989 ‘ethno-representative’ and ex-servicemen organisations have been withering away. The ‘culture preserving’ ethnic organizations, as well as religious/church groups also weaken, due to their shrinking demographic base. The Australian ‘Polonia’ is diversifying, as well as internally dividing, the latter process accelerated by widening political-ideological divisions in Poland. Under the impact of social diversification and globalization, and in the context of evolving multicultural policies in Australia, new forms of organization and social activism emerge. Interethnic, integrative and ‘bridging’ organizations and initiatives, anchored mainly in metropolitan social circles of Melbourne and Sydney, attract the most educated immigrants and their offspring and break the mould of ethnic exclusivity. Next to traditional Polish Associations, multiplying Senior Clubs and still numerous Polish schools there also appear some nationalistic groups, active mainly in social media. These general trends: numerical decline, ageing and diversification (combined with political divisions) reflect the changing conditions in the Australian and Polish societies, as well as the processes of migrant adaptation and integration.
Australian Polonia, ‘wave-type’ immigration, Polish migrants in Australia