• Faithful to my Homeland, the Republic of Poland


  • NEWS

  • 5 September 2013


    Poland and Australia enjoy a significant tradition of cooperation. Both countries work together to promote economic and social stability. In addition, an increasing number of citizens are visiting and gaining personal experience of each other's countries. A shared commitment to an active role in building institutions that support democracy and prosperity in regional economies has been a vital part of the relationship. Polish-Australian partnership aims to share experiences and knowledge in cultural, educational, scientific and technological fields.


    The Beginnings


    According to The Australian People: An Encyclopedia of the Nation, Its People and Their Origins (2001) the earliest Polish visitors to Australia were “ten citizens of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth [who] stepped onto Australian soil in December, 1696, when Captain Willem Vlamingh’s Dutch expedition of three ships reached and explored the coast of Western Australia.” They were followed by travelers, scientists and artists who contributed to the development of Australia as it is known today.


    The first Pole known to have settled in Australia was Joseph Potaski who arrived in Port Phillip, Victoria, in 1803 as a convict from Great Britain. Over half a century later, the first group of Poles settled in South Australia, creating in the Seven Hills area (later re-named Polish Hill River) a distinctly Polish community, which cultivated their language, customs and traditions. Gradually, more and more Poles came to Australia: natural history scholars, noblemen, political refugees, farmers, gold miners, artists and explorers. Many of them left a permanent mark on the history of Australia. Paul Edmund Strzelecki, for example, a Polish explorer who travelled across Australia in the 1840s, named several famous Australian landmarks, including the continent’s highest peak Mount Kosciuszko, Dr Ludwick Bernstein explored the Australian Alps and named the Snowy River, the naturalist and artist Gracius Joseph Broinowski published illustrated works on Australian natural history, Professor Jerzy Toeplitz was the first director of the prestigious Australian Film and Television School in Sydney, while Professor Jerzy Zubrzycki was widely regarded as the “Father of Australian Multiculturalism.”



    Polish migration to Australia


    The Polish have a long history of migration to Australia. Prior to the First World War there was already a significant number of Poles or people of Polish descent living in Australia. Yet, it was only after the Second World War that Poles started to arrive in significant numbers within Australian mass migration program. The first of big main waves of Polish migration took place in 1947-54, when Australia, seeking a labour force, accepted over 50 000 Polish veterans and Displaced Persons, along with other migrants of diverse ethnic backgrounds who were looking for a new home away from war-torn Europe. The first transports of Polish ex-servicemen, veterans of the battles of Monte Cassino, Anzio or Tobruk demobilized in Great Britain, arrived in 1947. They were followed by Displaced Persons, survivors of labour and concentration camps, prisoner-of-war camps or immigration detention camps. As a result between 1947 and 1954, the Poland-born population of Australia increased from 6 573 to 56 594 people. Poles were welcome to travel to Australia for free and in return were required to fulfill a two year contract working, for example, on the Snowy Mountains Hydro-Electric Scheme in NSW. They were provided temporary accommodation in specially organized camps or hostels and were entitled to free English language tuition. These post-war migrants built solid foundations for the growing Polish migrant community in Australia, creating organizations, associations, foundations, clubs, schools, folklore and dance groups, and establishing press networks.


    Between 1956 and 1966 over 11 000 Poles arrived to Australia, majority of whom came within family reunion programs. In the 1980s the second big wave started which – till the early 1990s – brought over 25 000 “Solidarity” migrants to Australia, increasing the number of Poland-born citizens from 59 442 in 1981 to 68,496 in 1991. Seeking political asylum were young and usually tertiary-educated Poles, urban professionals, often with good knowledge of English. They greatly influenced the cultural and institutional life of Australian Polish community. In 1991, the Australian Institute of Polish Affairs (AIPA) was established to inform the Australian public about Polish history, society and culture, and political changes taking place in Central Europe that led to the collapse of communism.


    After 1989 the number of migrants from Poland has started to decline. The so called post-communist wave came mostly due to economic reasons, but also looking for the long-lost sense of security and stability Australia could promise. However, as a result of the opportunities provided by the enlargement of the EU labour market, after 2004 the number of Poles migrating to Australia dropped even more, with slightly over 2000 Poles arriving to Australia in 2001–05 and only 338 in 2005–06. The most recent arrivals are mainly students and professionals, more often transnational job seekers rather than emigrants in traditional understanding of the word. Nevertheless, according to the 2006 census, owing to the growing number of second generation migrants, over 160 000 Australians claim Polish ancestry (Tab. 1).
















    53 191

    48 155

    24 183

    18 642

    17 972

    4 034

    3 388


    170 347



    52 105

    46 629

    21 685

    17 585

    18 032

    3 837

    3 193


    163 802


    Tab.1. The number of people declaring Polish ancestry.



    According to the research of Department of Immigration and Multicultural Affairs, Poles prefer to settle in Victoria and New South Wales. Melbourne is the most attractive city for permanent migration, followed by Sydney, Adelaide and Perth (Fig. 1).




    Fig. 1. Settlement of Polish migrants in Australia (Source: Community Information Summary,

    Department of Immigration and Multicultural Affairs, Commonwealth of Australia 2003).



    Polish organizations in Australia


    Different socio-political circumstances of Poles migrating to Australia resulted in heterogeneous character of their community which, nevertheless, established a wide range of community organizations, strong ethnic networks and intra-community support mechanisms. The first Polish organization in Australia, Towarzystwo Polskie [Polish Society], was created in 1863 in Melbourne by Seweryn Rakowski to support Poland in her fight for independence.


    Soon after the arrival of the post-war migrants a great number of Polish associations, foundations, societies, social and cultural groups were established which, together with ex-servicemen clubs and political committees, engaged in popularizing Poland in Australia and winning support for its social and political struggles. Since then Polish organizations have been active in various fields of communal life, organizing social, educational and cultural activities.


    It is impossible to establish an exact number of Polish organizations in Australia. In 1951, an umbrella organization was set up – the Polish Community Council of Australia. According to The Australian People: An Encyclopedia of the Nation, Its People and Their Origins, in 1991 it had 30 member-organizations which claimed to represent about 200 associations. Various sources report that in 1977 there were 109 Polish organizations listed, in 1986 their number increased to 210 and in 1992 dropped to 180.


    Currently, various Polish-Australian organizations continue to operate in Australia, majority of which is gathered within the Polish Community Council of Australia. These include veterans’ associations, youth and seniors’ clubs, language schools, sport clubs, folklore song and dance ensembles, theatre groups, aged care services, welfare organizations or charity groups. The Polish community is active in promoting person-to-person contact and commercial and academic ties through a number of community organizations, bilateral business councils and institutes. One of its major roles is to maintain Polish language and culture in Australia, which is fulfilled through various cultural and social initiatives.


    Polish newspapers and magazines have been published in Australia since the inter-war period, and after the Second World War occasional publications were replaced by a weekly Polish language press such as Tygodnik Polski (first published in 1949 as Catholic Weekly) or Wiadomości Polskie (from 1954-1996). Additionally, great numbers of chronicles, newsletters and bulletins have been released in different parts of Australia. Polish language radio broadcasts are featured regularly on SBS Radio and on various community radio stations in all of the major Australian cities, and several festivals are organized regularly in Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide.



    Australia’s support for Poland 


    The support expressed and given by Australians to the “Solidarity” movement in Poland is a great example of a constructive and valuable liaison between the two countries. The Australian public responded to the events in Poland with understanding and willingness to help which included support for family reunion of recently arrived Polish refugees, political support for the “Solidarity” movement, economic help to the needy in Poland, and assistance with settlement of refugees in Australia. A number of organizations to cater for these problems were formed. In September 1980 a Committee for Family Reunion was formed in Sydney by a group of refugees, focused on information campaigns, direct negotiating with Polish Consular Authorities in Australia, political lobbying, demonstrations and other non-violent forms of public protest. In December 1981 Solidarity – The Association of Free Poles in Australia was formed in Sydney with Laurie Short and Roger Woodward as its patrons, Charles Weyman as its president, and 300 members of non-Polish background (out of 1200 members). Its main objectives were to provide political and financial support for “Solidarity”, to inform Australian society about the nature and aims of “Solidarity”, and to provide economic assistance to the needy in Poland. As a result of the Association’s medical appeal, for example, 21 tonnes of medical goods worth over 1.5 million dollars were collected and sent to Poland (most of the goods were donated by Australians of non-Polish origin).


    Political responses were characterised by a remarkable degree of consensus and cooperation between the major political parties. The Government condemned martial law, the detention of “Solidarity” leaders, the dissolution of “Solidarity” or the brutality of the “milicja” (civic militia), it also expanded intake of Polish refugees within the Eastern Europe Refugee Program and relaxed migrant entry criteria. Malcolm Fraser, Prime Minister of Australia (1975-1983), publicly protested against the imposition of martial law in Poland and criticized its communist government. He became a patron of the Australian National Committee for Relief of Poland, known as Help Poland Live Appeal, which was created in November 1981 by the Federal Council of Polish Organizations in Australia to provide assistance in the collection and dispatching of food and medical supplies to Poland. The Appeal received an immediate contribution of 1 million dollars from the Commonwealth Government, over 1 million dollars from community members, companies and organizations as well as donations of goods. In addition, Fraser introduced a special political asylum program with a package of social assistance to refugees from Poland. Fraser’s successor Bob Hawke (1983-1991) continued providing support for social initiatives in Poland. In public speeches he emphasized the importance of the “Solidarity” movement in the fight for freedom and democracy in Poland. During his visit to Australia, Lech Wałęsa, the leader of “Solidarity” and the former President of the Republic of Poland, expressed his gratitude to Australian friends of the movement for their unwavering trust and support.



    Australian mass media reported events in Poland regularly and fairly and were always open and supportive for initiatives taken in support of Polish worker. The Australian trade union movement has provided considerable financial and moral support to “Solidarity”. A strong support was also coming from various non-government organisations, including the Catholic Church, the Seventh Day Adventist and Lutheran Churches, women’s organisations and various community groups.


    In June 2009, on the occasion of the twentieth anniversary of the first free elections in Poland, the Parliament of Australia passed three resolutions that recognized the importance of Polish efforts in fighting for sovereignty and overthrowing communism in Europe


    In July 2009 the symposium The Democratic Breakthrough—20 Years after the June 1989 Elections in Poland was hosted by His Excellency Andrzej Jaroszyński, the Ambassador of the Republic of Poland, and the National Europe Centre at the Australian National University. The event was followed by a publication, The Solidarity Decade 1980-1989: An Australian Perspective (Canberra, 2010), the collection of personal reflections and scholarly articles by diplomats, journalists, scholars as well as direct witnesses of the political changes in Poland.


    In November 2012, an Australian Parliamentary delegation led by the President of the Senate, Senator John Hogg, visited Poland at the invitation of the Marshal of the Polish Senate, Bogdan Borusewicz. During the visit, Senator Hogg was presented with a Medal of Gratitude in recognition of Australia’s support for the Solidarity movement in 1980s.


    During the celebration of Polish Independence Day at the Embassy of the Republic of Poland, on the 10th of November 2010, His Excellency, Ambassador Andrzej Jaroszyński, awarded Medals of Gratitude to citizens of the Commonwealth of Australia. The Medal, established by the Polish non-governmental organisation, the European Solidarity Centre, on the 30th anniversary of the formation of NSZZ “Solidarity”, is awarded only to those of non-Polish descent who supported Poland in its battle for freedom and democracy. During the ceremony at the Embassy, eleven out of nineteen medals awarded to Australians were presented (including three awarded posthumously) to: Dr John Besemeres, Clare Birgin, Elizabeth Cham, Prof. Clark Manning (posth.), Richard Derewlany, Ewan „Mick” Donald Letts, Jim Maher (posth.), John Maynes (posth.), Margaret Elisabeth Reid, Kevin Ruane and Dr Kyle Wilson. The remaining medals were awarded to The Hon. John Aquilina, Sharan Burrow, The Hon. Malcom Fraser, William Harradine, The Hon. Bob Hawke, The Hon. Michael Hodgman, Les Murray, and Cardinal George Pell.


    In his memoir “Poland, 1980–1984: A witness to history”, published as a part of Solidarity Decade 1980-1989: An Australian Perspective (eds. S. Markowski and J. Pakulski, Canberra, 2010), John Burgess, a former Australian Ambassador to Poland, recalled:


    In November 1981, only weeks before martial law was declared, the very first visit of an Australian Foreign Minister to Poland occurred. The Foreign Minister, Tony Street, came on an official visit for a few days. The situation in Poland by then was very fluid and Street was able to have substantial meetings with Prime Minister and First Secretary of the Party, Jaruzelski, Primate Glemp and Solidarity's Lech Wałęsa, who were then the key figures holding the future of the country in their hands. I was in Sosnowiec, not far from Poland’s southern border, on the night of 12th-13th December 1981. I was as surprised as anyone by the declaration of martial law. My wife, our four young children and I had stayed the night in a hotel on our way to a much anticipated skiing holiday in Austria. We heard the news on the BBC at six o’clock in the morning while still in bed. When I went down to the lobby of the hotel, Jaruzelski’s declaration of martial law was being broadcast over and over again through the public address system. There were quite a lot of people in the lobby but, in my memory, they were all very still, stunned, listening to the broadcast. Some were weeping… We drove back to Warsaw that morning.




    Official Australian-Polish relations


    The official establishment of formal diplomatic Australian-Polish relations took place in February 1972, while the agreement on consular relations between Poland and Australia was signed in May 1991. However, the history of political contacts between the two countries started much earlier. Between 1919 and 1939 the following offices were operating in Australia: Honorary Consulate General in Sydney (1919-1934), Honorary Consulate in Sydney (1935-1939) and Honorary Consulate in Melbourne (1931-1939).


    In 1932 Thomas M. Burke became the Consul of the Republic of Poland in Melbourne. The following year, as a result of the increasing number of Polish citizens on the continent, another consular position was created and Władysław Noskowski was appointed a Consul of Poland in Sydney, becoming Consul-General in 1939. After the outbreak of the Second World War Noskowski established the Rescue Committee with the aim of helping Poland as it fought the Nazi regime. The Polish Consulate General in Sydney existed till July 1945 when the British government declined to continue recognizing the exiled Polish government in London. In March 1948 the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the People’s Republic of Poland expressed his desire to create a new Polish Consulate General in Sydney but no action was taken. In 1956 Australian government agreed to open Consulate General of the People’s Republic of Poland in Sydney which was re-appointed in 1957. Its district covered the entire territory of Australia.


    As a result of the official establishment of diplomatic relations, in 1972 Ryszard Hoszowski was appointed the first Chargé d'Affaires of Poland in Canberra. Two years later the Ambassador Eugeniusz Wiśniewski signed a land lease with ACT government in order to build the Polish Embassy in Canberra. The current building of the Embassy was opened in Yarralumla, a diplomatic suburb of Canberra, at 7 Turrana St, in 1977. The two-storey concrete and white brick building is modern in style and well designed to fit into the surrounding landscape. There are two pieces of art by Australian artists of Polish descent displayed in the foyer: the sculpture “Copernicus” by Janusz Kuzbicki and the paining “Out of the Blue” by Jarosław Wójcik. At the main entrance a commemorative plaque, initially displayed at the top of the Kosciuszko Mt, was installed. It commemorates the event of naming the mountain by Sir Paul E. Strzelecki and was officially unveiled in 1940 by Consul-General Władysław Noskowski.


    Graeme Barrow describes the building of the Polish Embassy in his book on Canberra’s Embassies (ANUP, Canberra 1978):


    The Polish Embassy, one of the newest additions to Canberra’s diplomatic skyline, sits solid and massive on the brow of a hill in the Embassy Belt. The building was designed in Australia, three designs having been submitted to Warsaw in 1974 before the version constructed here was chosen. The chancery is large enough to cater for future growth but is smaller than it appears, being only one storey high at the rear white it wraps around the crown of the hill. The off-white colour of the brick and precast concrete, … provides a pleasing contrast trough the darker gum trees. The rooflines, long sunhoods and an overhanging first floor give the building its appearance of handsome strength while this type of construction also serves in a practical way to prevent sun entering during the hot half of the year. Windows deep and narrow and the use of light – coloured, hemlock ceiling timbers give the entrance foyer an airy, open appearance. The receptionist here controls movement to all sections of the building and extensive walls serve as a gallery for Polish arts and crafts. Stairs lead to a large reception hall to the east, capable of seating 150 people, and during functions the offices to the west can be completely isolated. Flats at the ends of both wings provide security for the complex. Behind the chancery is the two-storey residence designed in the same style and using the same shaped precast concrete panels. The salon has a timber ceiling matching the chancery’s entrance foyer.



    The Ambassador of Poland in Canberra has a dual accreditation to Australia and Papua New Guinea and, till the opening of the Embassy in Wellington, also represented the Polish Government in New Zealand. Apart from the Consulate General in Sydney, Poland has a number of consulates headed by honorary consuls: in Melbourne (the Consulate General), Darwin, Adelaide, Brisbane and, since February 2012, in Perth. 

    The first (non-resident) Australian Ambassador to Poland was Lawrence John Lawrey, who was also the Australian Ambassador to the Soviet Union. Francis Hamilton Stuart was the first Australian Ambassador to Poland with an office in Warsaw (from September 1973). The Australian Ambassador to Poland is also accredited to the Czech Republic.


    Her Excellency Ambassador of Australia to Poland, Margaret Adamson (1998-2002) commented on Australian-Polish bilateral relation in a book Women with a Mission: Personal Perspectives (eds. Moreen Dee and Felicity Volk, Canberra: Dept. of Foreign Affairs and Trade, 2007):


    At the core of any bilateral relationship are crucial people-to-people links. Developing a firmer foundation of such ties between Australia and Poland was therefore a focus of my posting. In 1999, I established what has become an annual observance of Anzac Day in Warsaw drawing on the comradeship of Anzacs and Polish soldiers and airmen during World War II. Individual Australians of Polish and Polish-Jewish descent, especially leading sociologists Professor George Zubrzycki and George Smolicz, lent strong support also to my other initiatives, including a promotion of Australia’s successful experience of multiculturalism.


    At the conclusion of my posting to Warsaw, President Kwasniewski presented me with a Polish order, the Commanders Cross, in recognition of my contribution to strengthening bilateral relations, a first for Australia in Poland. By the time I left, high level bilateral visits had recommenced after a lengthy gap, stimulating closer ties. Poland had become Australia’s fastest growing market for education exports and our wine exports were increasing at an exponential rate.




    High-level bilateral visits


    Over the years, diplomatic relations between Poland and Australia have become closer and stronger, owing to high-level bilateral visits. They include numerous visits by distinguished guests. For instance, President Aleksander Kwaśniewski  participated at the opening ceremony of the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney; the Deputy Prime Ministers John McEwen, Tim Fisher visited Poland;  the Deputy Chairman of the Polish Council of State Tadeusz Witold Młyńczak visited Australia; the Foreign Ministers Anthony Street, William Hayden, Gareth Evans, Alexander Downer, Stephen Smith visited Poland; and the Foreign Ministers Emil Wojtaszek, Marian Orzechowski, Krzysztof Skubiszewski and Włodzimierz Cimoszewicz visited Australia. There is a regular exchange between the parliaments both on the level of the presidents and speakers as well as the members of Polish-Australian parliamentary groups.


    In October 2009 the Australia-Poland Social Security Agreement was signed during the visit to Warsaw of the then Minister for Foreign Affairs, the Hon. Stephen Smith. The Hon. Alan Griffin MP, Minister for Veterans' Affairs, visited Poland in September 2009 to represent Australia at the 70th anniversary of the outbreak of the Second World War. The Minister for Defence, the Hon. Joel Fitzgibbon MP, also visited Poland in February 2009 to participate in NATO talks on Afghanistan which were hosted by Poland. The then Minister for Climate Change and Water, Senator the Hon. Penny Wong, visited Poland in December 2008 to lead the Australian delegation to the United Nations Climate Change negotiations in Poznań. South Australian Premier, the Hon. Mike Rann MP, attended the associated Climate Leaders summit in Poland at the same time.


    Among the important cultural events in bilateral Polish-Australian relations is the construction of the Strzelecki Monument. On 14 November 1988 Sir Paul E. Strzelecki Monument, created as joint efforts of Polish government and society, Australian Polonia and Australian government, was unveiled in Jindabyne Town Park, in the Kościuszko National Park. The opening ceremony was jointly hosted by His Excellency Air Marshal Sir James Rowland, Governor of NSW, and the Deputy Chairman of the Council of State of the Polish People’s Republic Tadeusz Witold Młyńczak. The 25 tones sculpture was cast in bronze and granite in Poland and shipped to Australia as a gift from Poland to Australia on its Bicentennial.



    Economic cooperation 


    Poland and Australia’s bilateral business relations are continuously developing. Australia’s trade with Poland was modest in the past but evolved with time. In the 70’s when diplomatic relations between the two countries had only just been established, Australian merchandise exports to Poland totalled approx. 50 mln AUD and imports around 10 million AUD, mainly in minerals and mineral manufactures.


    In the mid-90’s when Poland started to benefit from an open market after transformation from a communist state towards a market economy, Australia saw Poland making significant advances. In 1994-95 there was the first Australian wine promotion. The first substantial Australian investment in Poland was in the brewery sector in the early 90’s. The merchandise trade was still at low levels at around 60 million AUD both ways: wool and bovine meat from Australia and glassware and copper from Poland. 


    Poland and Australia’s bilateral business relations are currently focusing on cooperation in the resource sector and mining services, including coal, copper and minerals mining, as well as on expanding knowledge-based initiatives such as clean coal and carbon capture and storage, IT, education, agribusiness, food security and advanced processing technologies, and consulting services.


    Poland is of significant and growing potential for Australia’s commercial interests. The merchandise trade, especially imports from Poland, reached 383 million AUD in 2011. Australia's major export items to Poland in 2011 were medicaments (including veterinary), alcoholic beverages, fruit and nuts, as well as measuring and analysing instruments and crude minerals. There are increasing opportunities for Australian meat, sheepskins, IT, environmental and waste-management technologies in Poland. Australia’s major imports from Poland included medicaments (including veterinary), goods vehicles and auto-parts, household equipment, furniture and telecom equipment. Additionally, Poland supplies Australia with new Polish export products – luxury yachts and boats.


    There are also increasing investment opportunities in Poland and the number of major Australian investors in Poland has risen dramatically in recent years.  In 2011 the total value of Australian investment in Poland in 2011 was estimated at 875 million AUD with main investments in logistics, energy, construction and packaging. Australian businesses are also concerned with real estate and commercial property development, traffic management and speed control technologies, as well as security and early fire warning systems. Among the Australian companies successfully operating in Poland are Amcor, Macquarie Group, Mincom, Meydan Group, Bovis Lendlease, Goodman and Redflex.


    One of the most important Australian investments in Poland is the recent development of the Deep-sea Container Terminal (DCT) in Gdańsk by Macquarie Group (Global Infrastructure Fund II), and the adjacent port’s “Pomeranian Logistics Centre” by the Australian Goodman Group. Another recent important Australian investment is the $A 500 million investment of the Australian Industry Funds Management (IFM) through co-owned company Dalkia Poland in a central heating network (SPEC) in Warsaw, the largest district heating network in the European Union.


    In his address at the Australian National University, Canberra, 5 March 2003, Polish Foreign Minister Włodzimierz Cimoszewicz stated:


    Poland realizes that Asia is one of the key areas of foreign policy for both Europe and Australia. No wonder, after all Asian states are significant partners in cooperation covering many fields. China and India are newcomers to the club of world powers, playing a bigger and bigger role in international relations. At the same time Asia is a continent of huge contrasts. On the one hand, there is an immense economic development potential and advanced democratization process under way. On the other hand, there are regions affected by conflicts, crises, and thus representing threats to peace and security, both in the local and in the global dimension. In addition to this, we follow with concern and anxiety the existence of Asian movements supporting the international terrorist activities. The European Union attaches high priority to political and economic relations with Asian states, especially with China, India, Japan, South Korea and the Association of South-East Asia Nations (ASEAN). The dialog in the framework of the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) which deals with security issues is also very important. Poland hopes to be incorporated into these and other for a of Euro-Asian cooperation and the active dialog in their framework. … We deeply hope that cooperation between Australia, Asia and Europe will be beneficial for all the parties involved in the process and will encompass an increasing number of issues, ranging from trade and economy, fight against international terrorism and organized crime to cultural cooperation.





    Education is an area of substantial opportunity in Poland. A growing number of Australian higher education providers are actively working towards concluding academic and research cooperation agreements with Polish universities. University of New South Wales (UNSW) and Central Queensland University have established permanent representation in Poland. QUT and UNSW have successful exchange agreements with the Warsaw School of Economics. The University of Tasmania has a bilateral exchange agreement with the Cracow University of Technology. RMIT has student exchange programs (both under graduate and post graduate) with Wrocław University of Technology, Warsaw School of Economics and Technical University of Łódź. University of Queensland has a student exchange with Warsaw School of Economics and Griffith University with Jagiellonian University in Kraków. Technical University of Warsaw has cooperation agreement with University of Western Australia.  In 2011 there were 2244 enrolments for Australian institutions from Poland.


    The Technical University of Łódź and Sydney University established the International Faculty of Engineering (IFE) also known as the International Education Centre. It provides courses in biomedical engineering, mechanical engineering, computer science, telecommunications, biotechnology, and business and technology.


    A Centre for Australian Studies has been established within the Faculty of Languages and Literatures at the Nicholaus Copernicus University in Toruń and within the English Language Department and International Studies Department at the University of Łódź. Several research centres and universities in Poland (the Jagiellonian University in Cracow, the Nicolaus Copernicus University in Toruń, University of Łódź, Opole University) conduct extensive research and offer graduate and undergraduate courses focused on culture, society and politics of Australia. They regularly host scholars from Australia, organise symposia and conferences, often followed by publications. Their close cooperation with the Australian Embassy in Warsaw has resulted in a number of projects focused on propagation and promotion of research on Australia.


    In 2000-2002 a series of lectures devoted to Australian multiculturalism was organised in the biggest universities in Poland (Łódź, Warsaw, Cracow, Gdańsk, Wrocław and Lublin), within the international project “Australian Multiculturalism to Poland and Beyond in the Perspective of European Integration”. The project was coordinated by the University of Łódź in cooperation with three Australian universities: the Australian National University, the University of Southern Queensland and the Adelaide University. Other academic projects followed. On the initiative of the Australian Embassy a conference “Among Deserts, Bushes, Woods and Gardens: Meeting with the Culture of Papuans and Aborigines” was organised in 2002 at the University of Łódź. In 2010 the Jagiellonian University in Cracow hosted an international conference “Australia in the Modern World. Between Asia, America and Europe”. It was co-organized by Australia, New Zealand and Oceania Research Association established in Kraków in 2008 with the aim to integrate scholars working in different fields on Australia and Oceania, promoting knowledge about this part of the world in Poland and abroad.


    Cooperation between Polish and Australian educational and research institutions is increasing, as is the number of Polish students in Australian universities. Currently, there are ca 2 500 Polish students studying in Australia. There are several scholarships available that encourage student mobility and provide the opportunity for Polish academic institutions to build links with Australia.


    Many contemporary Poles have made distinguished contributions to Australian public policy such as Professors Jerzy Smolicz and Jerzy Zubrzycki, who helped to create the solid foundations of today’s Australian multiculturalism. George Wojak was one of the most effective presidents of the Federation of Ethnic Communities Councils (FECCA), while Sev Ozdowski has had a significant influence as Human Rights Commissioner.


    During the celebration of Polish Independence Day at the Embassy of the Republic of Poland, on the 10th of November 2012, His Excellency, Ambassador Andrzej Jaroszyński  presented the Commander’s Cross of the Order of Merit of the Republic of Poland to Professor Anna Wierzbicka-Besemeres for her contribution to the development of Polish-Australian scientific cooperation, and the Officers’ Cross of the Order of Merit to a former Speaker of the New South Wales Legislative Assembly, the Hon John Aquilina for supporting the Polish community in Australia and initiating cultural and political cooperation with Poland.



    Cultural connections


    Cultural exchange between Poland and Australia had been established much earlier than diplomatic relations. Over the years Polish migrants have made a significant contribution to the cultural development of Australia. Before the Second World War many Polish artists toured Australia, including Ignacy Jan Paderewski, Artur Rubinstein, and opera singer Janina Waydowa. The Polish Consul-General, Władysław Noskowski, promoted Polish music and culture contributing music reviews and articles to the Sydney Morning Herald, Art in Australia and Musical Australia, and editing the monthly Polish and Central European Review. After the Second World War the newly arrived Polish community, including a great number of poets, writers and artists, contributed to the diversity of Australian arts. In literature, Peter Skrzynecki became known as one of the most influential ethnic writers, Ania Walwicz as one of the most experimental poets of the new wave in poetry, and Diane Armstrong as a greately successful biographical author. The artists such as Stanisław Ostoja-Kotkowski, Władysław Dukiewicz and Feliks Tuszyński belong to the pioneers of Australian modern art. In 1965 an exhibition of Polish visual arts “From Lublin to Sydney” celebrated the millennium of Polish statehood in many Australian cities. In the field of film and performing arts the work of the actresses Gosia Dobrowolska and Magda Szubanski, composer Cezary Skubiszewski, animated film producer Yoram Gross, a rising Hollywood star Mia Wasikowska, and, most importantly, Jerzy Toeplitz – a Polish film historian and educator, in 1973 appointed foundation director of the Australian Film, Television and Radio School, achieved great appreciation and recognition. In sport, Michal Klim and Daniel Kowalski, achieved great success and fame becoming Olympic swimming champions.


    Numerous initiatives, promoting Poland and its culture take place in Australia. One of the largest Polish cultural festivals held outside Poland is PolArt, organized every three years in capital cities around Australia. It presents the best Polish folklor dance, theatre, music, fine arts, film and literature. Australia’s largest Polish festival, organized for the first time in 2004, is the Polish Festival at Federation Square in Melbourne which features folklore song and dance ensembles, children and youth music groups. In Sydney, Polish Christmas Picnic at Darling Harbour, with Christmas market stalls, traditional Polish food and folklore dance performances, is organized annually to celebrate Australia’s cultural diversity. Australia’s diverse multicultural society is also celebrated during the K’Ozzie Fest, an annual, vibrant festival in the Snowy Mountains first held in 2007. It unites many forms of art and performance such as music, song, dance, poetry, painting and photography. Adelaide hosts the Polish Harvest Festival “Dożynki” which began in 1979 as “Polish Day” and since then has been honoured with the presence of various Polish and international artists. Apart from singing and dancing, the festival activities include “pierogi” eating and wheat sheaf tossing competitions.


    Among the newest major Polish cultural initiatives is a biennial piano competition which took place in Canberra in May 2011 – The Australian International Chopin Piano Competition, supported by the Embassy of The Republic of Poland.


    In October 2012, for the first time Australia played host to the Polish Film Festival which took place in Melbourne, Sydney and Canberra. The presented material included new releases, as well as short films and a selection of classic Polish movies. Among the guests were internationally respected filmmaker and prolific director Krzysztof Zanussi, and actor and director Jerzy Stuhr. Poland was also represented in the “Windows on Europe” European Union Film Festival, which took place in February and March 2012 in Canberra, Brisbane  and Sydney. In April the series “Under Polish Eyes”, intended for cinema goers interested in Polish features, documentaries and short-films, both classic and new ones, was opened at the Polish Embassy in Canberra.


    In Poland numerous initiatives focused on promoting Australia and expanding knowledge about this continent has been taking place since the nineteenth century. The first book in Polish on Australia was published in 1858 by a gold-rush miner Severin Korzeliński. Together with the publications by Edmund Strzelecki and Bronisław Malinowski it introduced the “new” continent to Polish readers. Over the years, numerous travellers, reporters and scholars made a valuable contribution to knowledge and understanding of Australia in Poland, producing both academic research and popular histories geared to non-academic readers. Since the early 1970s cultural exchange has become more intensive.


    Since the 1980s knowledge about Australia has been propagated also through artistic exhibitions such as Australian Graphic Art (Print Council of Australia in Toruń, Cracow and Warsaw, 1980), Australian exhibition in Poland: Art of the Aborigines (Zamek Ujazdowski Gallery, Warsaw, 1998), Feliks Tuszynski (the Płock Museum, 2002), Hightide: new currencies in art form from Australia and New Zealand (Zachęta Gallewry, 2006), Australia and Oceania (Ethnographic Museum in Warsaw, 2007), Living the modern: modernism in Australian contemporary architecture (Museum of Architecture, Wrocław, 2008) and Australian Aboriginal Rock Art: Dreaming (Evan Williams, ANU, University of Łódź, 2010). In November 2012, the President of the Senate, Senator John Hogg opened in Kraków a photographic exhibition Polish Siberians in Australia, documenting the fate of Poles deported to Siberia following the Russian invasion of Poland in 1940 and who managed to migrate to Western Australia in 1950.


    In 2007 the Era of New Horizons Film Festival in Wrocław with the support of the Australian Embassy in Warsaw featured about 35 Australian films, promoting Australia among young audience.


    Australian publishing houses are increasingly active in the Polish market. Well known Australian authors are very popular amongst Polish readers. Trudi Canavan’s bestselling The Traitor Spy Trilogy and The Magician Trilogy has sold over 500 000 copies in Poland. Other best seller’s include John Flanagan’s fantasy series Ranger’s Apprentice (250 000) and John Marsden’s Tomorrow Series (50 000). In 2008, two Australians published their works about Poland which gained much critical acclaim. Fiona McGregor, a Sydney author and performance artist, published her travel memoir Strange Museums: A Journey through Poland, in which she reconstructs her journey as a performance artist touring through Poland. She offers the reader a confronting interrogation of culture, history, politics, religion and sexuality, as well as a critique of contemporary Australia and its suppression of experimental art forms. Another memoir, A Country in the Moon: Travels in Search of the Heart of Poland, was published by Michael Moran, an Australian travel writer, musician and explorer. It is the result of Moran’s fascination with Poland and presents a meticulously researched cultural journey and a passionate view of Poland’s history. The book was translated into Polish in 2010 (Kraj z Księżyca. Podróże do serca Polski, trans. by Janusz Ochab).


    An Australian conductor and a graduate of the Sydney Conservatory, Daniel Smith, has won the Grzegorz Fitelberg Competition for Conductors held in Katowice in November 2012. In this one of the most prestigious events of its kind, Smith won the first prize and Golden Baton funded by the Polish Ministry of Culture and National Heritage, and was invited to conduct several Polish symphony orchestras during the next season.




    Appendix 1. Bilateral agreements


    Increasing numbers of agreements on the issues essential for both countries, proves the relationship between Poland and Australia has been strengthening over the years. The most important was the agreement on establishing diplomatic relations between Poland and Australia in February 1972. It was followed by other agreements focused on, for example, trade, industrial cooperation, migration, legal regulations, environment and sport. The most important include:

    ñ  Trade Agreement between the Polish People's Republic and Australian government signed in Warsaw in June 1966

    ñ  Agreement on trade, industrial and technical cooperation between the Polish People's Republic and Australia signed in Canberra in August 1978

    ñ  Food Aid Agreement between Poland and Australia signed in Warsaw in March 1990

    ñ  Investment and Promotion and Protection Agreement signed in 1991

    ñ  Agreement on Consular Relations signed in Canberra in May 1991

    ñ  Agreement on double tax avoidance signed in Canberra in May 1991

    ñ  Memorandum of Understanding Between the Australian Sports Commission and the State Sports and Tourism Administration of the Republic of Poland on Sports Co-operation signed in Canberra in June 1998

    ñ  Agreement on strengthening bilateral co-operation and consultation signed in Canberra in June 1998

    ñ  Agreement on Extradition signed in Canberra in June 1998

    ñ  Memorandum of Understanding between the Government of Australia and the Government of the Republic of Poland on mutual permission to undertake employment by members of the family of members of a diplomatic mission or consular post of the Sending in the Receiving State

    ñ  Extradition Treaty signed in 1999

    ñ  Agreement on Cooperation between Export Credit Insurance Corporation and Export Finance and Insurance Corporation signed in Sydney in March 2001

    ñ  Letters on Environment Cooperation between Australia and Poland signed in March 2001 by Robert Hill, the Minister of the Environment and Heritage

    ñ  Memorandum of Understanding between General Inspector of Financial Information, Republic of Poland and The Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre, Australia concerning cooperation in the exchange of Financial Intelligence related to money laundering signed in July 2003

    ñ  Air Services Agreement signed in 2005

    ñ  Declaration on Cooperation in Environmental Technologies, Goods and Services signed in March 2006

    ñ  Social Security Agreement signed in 2009


    Appendix 2. Heads of Missions of Poland in Australia



    Date of appointment

    Ryszard Hoszowski

    Charge d'Affaires


    Eugeniusz Wiśniewski



    W. Kapuściński

    Charge d'Affaires a.i.


    Ryszard Frąckiewicz



    Ireneusz Kossakowski



    Antoni Pierzchała



    Waldemar Figaj

    Charge d'Affaires


    Agnieszka Morawińska



    Beata Stoczyńska

    Charge d'Affaires a.i.


    Tadeusz Szumowski



    Marek Malarski

    Charge d'Affaires a.i.


    Jerzy Więcław



    Bogumiła Więcław

    Charge d’Affaires


    Grzegorz Sokół

    Charge d’Affaires


    Witold Krzesiński

    Charge d'Affaires a.i.


    Andrzej Jaroszyński



    Paweł Milewski





    Appendix 3. Heads of Missions of Australia in Poland



    Date of appointment

    Lawrence John Lawery


    (Resident in Moscow)


    James Lloyd

    Charge d’Affaires


    Francis Hamilton Stuart



    Robert Stephen Laurie



    John Robson Burgess



    Max William Hughes



    Lawry Wilson Herron



    Anthony Charles Kevin



    Michael Jonathan Thwaites



    Margaret Anne Adamson



    Patrick Colin Lawless



    Ian Kenneth Forsyth



    Ruth Lorraine Pearce



    Jean Margaret Dunn







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