History of immigration from Slovenia

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Map of Slovenia
Map date: 2013
Settlers from Slovenia have been arriving in Australia since the mid nineteenth century, when it was part of the Hapsburg Empire. One such settler was John Drolz, who arrived in Melbourne in 1885 and whose successful engineering business was included in the Cyclopaedia of Victoria, published in 1903.

Slovene territory joined the Kingdoms of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes in 1918, renamed Yugoslavia in 1929. During World War II the nation was invaded and fractured, but after the war Slovenia re-joined Yugoslavia. Many Slovenes opposed the new communist government, and joined the influx of post-war refugees migrating to Australia.

The Slovenia-born community in Australia flourished during the 1950s with the vital assistance of the Catholic Church. In 1954 the first Slovenian Club was established in Melbourne, and organised functions, dances and celebrations for the community.

During the early 1960s a degree of liberalisation within the Yugoslav government saw economic immigrants from Slovenia begin to settle in Victoria. The first Slovenian Church in Australia was built in Kew, Melbourne, in 1968. An elderly citizens’ home for Slovenian migrants opened next door in 1992.

After Slovenia became independent from Yugoslavia in 1991, the number of Slovenian immigrants settling in Victoria declined. Today, three-quarters of Slovenia-born Victorians are aged over 50, reflecting the low level of immigration from Slovenia since independence.

In 2011 Victoria had the highest Slovenia-born population in Australia today, with a total of 2,437 people. This total does not include Slovenians who identify their place of birth according to historic national boundaries. Living all over Victoria, 20% are employed as tradespeople; 30% are professionally employed. The Council of Slovenian Organizations of Victoria and a range of active community groups support the Slovenian community. The Institute for Slovenian Studies, and broadcasts by SBS radio and Radio 3ZZZ, also support Slovenian language and culture in Victoria.

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