A group of students wearing national costumes and waving national flags.

Stories from our Migrant and Refugee Communities

Developed with the support of the
State Library of New South Wales Foundation.

In 2013 the State Library of NSW commissioned photographer and oral historian Louise Whelan to record interviews with former refugees and immigrants from Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CALD) communities in Sydney and regional NSW.

The interviews record the experiences of people who have settled in Australia recently under refugee and migration schemes, or as asylum seekers. They also highlight the different perspectives of people working in the community to assist new arrivals. These recordings focus on people from a range of African countries, the Middle East, and South Asia. They add to the Library's collections of interviews with immigrant communities post-World War II, documenting the changing profile of immigrant and refugee populations in Sydney and NSW.  

The interviews delve into the personal stories of recently arrived migrants and their new lives in New South Wales, starting from birth and childhood and covering the (often harrowing) reasons they were compelled to leave their homes and seek safety in another country. They also detail the interviewees' first impressions of Australia, settling in and finding work and study, cultural and languages differences and the process of finding their place in their new communities.

This story features 5 of the 32 oral history recordings captured by the Library as part of our CALD oral history project. All the recordings can be accessed in the Library's catalogue.

In 2019 this collection of oral histories was included on the UNESCO Australian Memory of the World Register as a joint inscription. Migration Voices Oral Histories was nominated by the State Library of NSW, National Library of Australia, State Library of South Australia, State Library of Western Australia, Migration Museum, South Australia.

The Library's Oral History and Sound Collection

The Collection comprises recorded oral histories, radio interviews, talks, podcasts, performances and seminars.

Oral History and Sound is a growing collection that forms part of the State Library's commitment to collect material that documents life in New South Wales. From recordings undertaken in the 1950s through to contemporary times, the voices and memories of the people of New South Wales have been preserved.

Further digitised oral history collections can be found through the Library’s oral history transcription platform, Amplify.


This website was developed with the support of the State Library of New South Wales Foundation.