Migrant support essential to strong future

| September 14, 2011
Australian Population in Focus logo

Ahead of Global Access Partners' Population Summit Peter Fritz remembers what it was like to arrive in Australia and the importance of laying the foundations for migrants to grow and prosper.

It was a sunny morning on 5 February when the converted troop carrier Sydney, of the Floata Louro line, docked in Sydney. As we left the ship we were asked by the customs officer if we were carrying any weapons and we produced a small knife that was duly confiscated.

This was our introduction to Australia.

My parents received the landing permit in 1948, through the intercession of a friend of theirs Emil Barcs, the then editor of the Telegraph and Sir Frank Packer, who was his boss. Since Romania’s borders closed soon after receiving the landing permit, the family was not allowed to leave till late 1961.

On arrival in Australia, we were met by my father’s cousin who came to Australia in 1938 and established his family in Sydney.

Everything was amazing. The streets were clean, the sun was shining. We were taken in the family car to their place in Randwick.

Australian Population in Focus logoSlowly we learnt how to take a bus and drive on the left hand side of the road, which enabled us to take happy Sunday afternoon trips to Centennial Park in a borrowed Fordson panel van. We worked hard to adapt to our new home. Everything was unusual, different, new and threatening.

We made our way through the first six months by living in my uncle’s house who had conveniently taken a long holiday to travel around the world.

We were happy.

My mother found a job immediately. I was 19 and I also found a job – first in a drapery shop – where I lasted two days, and eventually as a cleaner in a Tabaco company.

The first two years were occupied with learning English and trying to make sense of what made our new country tick. I didn’t realise that after almost 50 years I still wouldn’t fully understand the latter. I graduated from university and my sister graduated as a music teacher. My father set up a business and the family prospered.

Looking back, I realise that we were completely unprepared. We landed and we were free, we were free to make our way in society, but we were left to our own means.

It can be argued that all of us are migrants of some kind since the world changes from one decade to next and sometimes faster, but it is difficult to describe the situation when you find yourself with no language, no network, no support mechanisms and no understanding of the leavers and issues or the history of the country you hope to integrate into.

It is also a generational issue, as I believe it takes a long time to settle into a new country.

I think the migration issue that we are grappling with in this country today is not about a few people jumping the queue but it is about integration and education, making sure that we have a process by which newcomers are helped into our community well before they arrive.  

It is about developing a social contract between the migrant and the Australian community and it is important to recognise that it is about commitment and responsibility from both sides.

With a framework in place that encompasses pre-arrival and integration we will create a harmonious transition into the Australian community which will benefit all.


Peter Fritz AM is Managing Director of Global Access Partners, and Group Managing Director of TCG – a diverse group of companies which over the last 40 years has produced many breakthrough discoveries in computer and communication technologies. He chairs a number of influential government and private enterprise boards and is active in the international arena, including having represented Australia on the OECD Small and Medium Size Enterprise Committee.





  1. dcol9186

    January 22, 2015 at 9:53 am

    Thanks for posting your

    Thanks for posting your inspiring story. I have encountered so many stories of immigration to Australia which are uplifting because they show that Australia provides excellent opportunities in all areas of life.