Becoming an Australian

Often when tracing family stories, I’m looking at shipping passenger lists or records of assisted passage in the 19th century to find the migration details for the first person in a family to migrate to Australia. But not all migration stories reach back generations. N’s story falls firmly into this century. To capture the details of her path from growing up in the UK, to fully-fledged Australian citizen, we sat down for a one-hour oral history interview.

By gently guiding N through the chronology of her journey from her decision to visit Australia on a working holiday visa through to permanent residency, and ultimately citizenship, we collated an interesting account of her experiences over that 18 years, and the conversation also provided her an opportunity to reflect on the recent past.

The interview was captured in both audio and video format which, together with a printed transcript of the audio, creates an archival record for the future. Using the source material, the next stage will be to write a narrative article which will draw out the story using N’s own words, but also place it within the wider context of the time.

Spending time with Alison allowed me to reflect on how and why I was here sitting on my sofa at home in Melbourne.  Capturing the memories, the stories, the whys and the hows…I will be forever grateful.  Alison’s guiding questions got the most out of my story, and we talked about things I had forgotten but are again in the forefront. 

Testimonial from N