Almost one-third of Australia’s multicultural population was born overseas – from every country around the world.
Amongst them are local woman Maudesta Litwinowicz. The 32-year-old, better known as ‘Maud’, arrived in Australia from the former Yugoslavia 71 years ago.
She migrated to Australia after Pula, the city in Yugoslavia where she lived, came under communist rule following World War II.
‘We were occupied by Germany right through the war. The town was bombarded and nearly every home was damaged,’ Maud recalls.
Maud’s boat journey from Italy to Melbourne took five weeks.
‘I didn’t know where Australia was because at school they never told us about this part of the world, only Europe and Scandinavia,’ she says.
‘I was very young, no mother or father to protect me. It was only me in a strange country and I didn’t even know the language.’
After arriving in Australia, Maud lived in a migrants’ camp in rural Wagga Wagga, where she met her future husband Theodore, a war veteran from Belarus.
They worked on the Snowy River hydroelectricity scheme in the Blue Mountains, as many immigrants of the time did, then lived in Melbourne then Brisbane. Maud says she is very grateful to live in Australia.
‘We are in the best country in the world. I know communism and I know other regimes. People in Australia don’t know lucky we are,’ she says.
Maud lives independently in her own home and has received assistance from Carinity Home Care for eight years.
‘They are very good to me. They come twice a day to tidy up and make the bed because I can’t bend over. At lunchtime they come to do cooking for me,’ she says.