History of immigration from Hungary

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Map of Hungary
Map date: 2013
The first recorded Hungarian in Australia was merchant Isaac Friedman, who arrived in 1833 with his wife and daughter.

A small group of Hungarian officers and soldiers arrived in Australia after the suppression of the 1848 revolution against Austrian rule. Many were attracted to Victoria’s goldfields. A memorial to these Hungarians can be seen in Bendigo today. Other young Hungarian men followed, including Dr Reuter Roth, who arrived in 1858 and became a pioneer of physical education in Australia. Ernest Leviny from Budapest became a successful silver and goldsmith, and his grand house “Buda”, is now a popular visitor attraction.

When World War I broke out, Hungarians in Australia were temporarily interned as enemy aliens. The 1920 Enemy Aliens Act prohibited further Hungarian entry to Australia for five years. When Hungarians were counted separately for the first time in the 1921 census, the community in Victoria numbered just 25.

After World War II, thousands of Hungarian Displaced Persons arrived in Australia. After the Soviet repression of the Hungarian revolt in 1956 the Australian Government offered settlement assistance to around 14,000 Hungarian refugees. Many of these migrants made significant contributions to various aspects of Australian life and to their ethnic Hungarian community.

By 1961 the Hungary-born community of Victoria peaked at 10,654. Many Hungarian immigrants in the next two decades came from the Vojvodina province of Yugoslavia, which had been part of the Kingdom of Hungary until the Treaty of Trianon in 1920. This treaty saw Hungary reduced to a third of its former size.

The Hungary-born community of Victoria has decreased slowly since the 1960s, with 5,567 people recorded in 2011; not including ethnic Hungarians born outside Hungary. Over three-quarters were Christian, and 8% were Jewish. Today almost half of those working occupy professional roles; many others are tradespeople. The Hungarian Community Centre in Wantirna, and a range of other organisations located around Melbourne, continually contribute to the maintenance of Hungarian customs and traditions.

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