Oceania includes Australia and New Zealand, two countries that accepted a large number of immigrants from all over Croatia, the majority of whom came from Dalmatia. Emigration from Croatia began at the end of the 19th century, and has continued on to this day.
The first Croatians that came to Australia worked in lumber and mining. During World War I, they were declared enemies, as the country they had come from was Austria, so they were taken away to camps. Between the two world wars, immigration was limited, as Australia had passed a law which enforced a very strict selection process for immigrants. Immigration did pick up after World War II, and it took on an economic-political character. There are Croatians from all over our country in Australia, however, most still come from the Dalmatian islands and hinterlands. A post stamp in Australia features Slavonian Vinko Romanek from Martin, near Našice. The stamp was published on the 200th anniversary of the Australian post office. Romanek, who lives in Adelaide, was among ten chosen candidates, of the 250 being considered, and thus became the first Croatian to feature on an Australian post stamp. He takes part in various volunteer work in his free time, and was awarded the Order of Australia Medal in 2001, for his contributions to the Croatian community of South Australia.
Vinko Romanek, the first Croatian on an Australian post stamp
Croatians can be found in every aspect of public life, including politics. The leader of the Australian democrats was Natasha Stott Despoja, the youngest woman to have entered Parliament. In Western Australia, the first Croatian woman to be part of a legislative assembly was Ljiljana Ravlich, born in Split. Jay Radisich was another parliamentarian.
Some Croatians in Australia are bearers of commendations issued for outstanding achievements. The Order of Australia Member Award (AM) was awarded to Robert Vojaković for his work in public healthcare and his fight against the use of asbestos, while an Order of Australia Officer Award (AO) was awarded to engineer Ralph Sarich.
Awards are also given for work with one of the immigrant communities. This is how Dragana Brkljača was awarded a Centenary Medal for her work with the Croatian community. The Order of Australia Medal for work with the Croatian community was awarded to: Ljerka Drapač, Milan Karamarko, Vinko Romanik, Frank Hesman, Vanda Podravac, Nedjeljko Marunčić, Tomislav Gavranić, Norman Marinovich, and Michael Furjanić.
Michael Furjanić Slavko Bošnjak
The Order of Australia Medal is awarded for contributions in specific economic areas. It was awarded to John Kosovich for his contributions to wine production, to Lennard Brajkovich for producing chicken meat, and Slavko Bošnjak for transportation.
In the movie industry, Eric Bana, an actor of Croatian descent, was awarded for the best leading role by the Australian Film Institute (AFI), in 2000. In the music industry, the AM medal and young artist of the year awards were given to conductor Simone Young, also of Croatian descent.