Mr. Robert Borsak,
Inquiry into NSW Museums and Galleries,
Legislative Council, NSW Government,
Parliament House, Sydney.
8th July 2016
Dear Mr. Borsak,
We are making a submission to this Inquiry. Our understanding is that the Inquiry will address the question of the location of Powerhouse Museum and will also look more broadly at Government funding for NSW Museum and galleries. In discussions published in the media there has been mention of a possible Migration Museum in Parramatta either as an Annex to the Powerhouse Museum there or as a Stand-alone facility.
The Board of the Dutch Australian Cultural Centre in Smithfield would like to suggest that the NSW Government considers the possibility of a Migration Museum in Parramatta or as an annex to the Powerhouse Museum should it be moved there. Adelaide and Melbourne have one and so does Broken Hill. They house a wonderful collection of histories and memorabilia of our immigrants’ lives before and after coming here. We realise that the Maritime Museum has a collection but it mostly relates to those who came by sea. The Migration Centre at the Powerhouse Museum closed a couple of years ago.
Many of the Post-War II ethnic groups set up small clubs where people could gather to share their language, food and culture and experiences of life here. With advancing age many of the original members are no longer able to participate and the younger generation don’t have the time to volunteer to run them. As a result many of these clubs are closing down and the stories are lost forever. People also have memorabilia which is an important part of our history and sadly with nowhere to go, it often ends up in landfill. We have had many visitors to our Centre who say they wish they had known we were there when they cleaned out a deceased parent’s home. At the Dutch Australian Cultural Centre we aim to collect, preserve and promote Dutch culture, heritage and club records in Australia. We are not a museum and do not have space or expertise to store all these precious items. We have collected items and archived records since 1984.
With such a large number of nationalities in Western Sydney it would seem most appropriate to house a Migration Museum in Parramatta. Families could take their children and grandchildren to visit and expose them to other cultures and traditions. We believe it is ignorance which breeds fear and intolerance so by exposing us to different cultural practices be it food or religion, language or history we can learn and be more respectful and appreciative of our differences. Many of the 1950s migrants came here as young children. The delicatessen section of the local shop only sold Devon, ham, Frankfurt sausages, corned beef and cheddar cheese. Look how far we have come and now with a population of 24 million, many of whom are post WWII immigrant, it is time to recognise their contributions to this wonderful country we call home.
We would be most grateful if you would consider this idea and bring it up at the Inquiry. It would also be wonderful if the Inquiry Committee could find the time to visit our Centre to see what we do. Two politicians have done so already a couple of months ago, at our invitation. Mrs. Tanya Davies (Mulgo) and Dr. Hugh Mc Dermott (Prospect). They were impressed.
We are located at the rear of Holland House, 85 Market St Smithfield. We are open on most Fridays and every Sunday from 11 am – 3pm or by appointment.
Dutch Australian Cultural Centre, Ltd.