SOCIETY
The first family, who migrated from Georgia to Australia
05 September, 2018
Several weeks ago the Georgian Journal received a message from one of its readers and it appeared that she was from a Georgian family, living in Australia. Her family was among the first Georgians who migrated to Australia, and so we became interested in learning more about them.

Her name is Nino Chikvashvili. GJ got in touch with Nino in Melbourne. Nino said she was planning a visit to Georgia in the near future. Since 1975 this will be her first
visit back to her homeland. She’ll arrive in Kutaisi, where she was born. The Georgian – Australian girl hopes to have close relations with Georgia and Georgians.

How did she migrate to Australia and why to the other side of the world?

I am now in my 40’s. I am seeking my roots more than ever before. I am one of four daughters (the eldest) who came to Australia with my family from Kutaisi. We were the first Georgians to arrive in Australia in 1975. Even now there are only 40 Georgian Jews and 80 Georgian families in the whole of Melbourne (whose population is 2,5 million and the whole state of Victoria 4 million) which is extremely low. Regrettably my family was the only ones that pursued their education and business/ professions.
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Nina Freedman with her family

Tell us more about your family:

My family are of Jewish descent and from what I can remember lived a peaceful co-existence with the various races in Georgia. Life was simple, but pleasant with holidays in the mountains or by the beach, with the occasional trips to Moscow. My father served in the Red Army and for a while in Siberia. My parents were very young when they married – my mother was 15, and my father was 22. I was born very early on in the marriage.

Why have you decided to leave Georgia?

At the time Israel had just ended the 6 day War. Jews (who were then Soviet Union citizens) decided they wanted to leave and go to Israel for the first time in over 2000 years. The Government would not give the Jews permission to leave The Jewish people protested against the Soviet Union for their stance. Finally the government relented and allowed us out. We firstly went to Vienna in Austria as this was the route we had to take to get to Israel. By the time we arrived so had many other Georgian Jews resulting in a large settled community there. My grandmother and uncle among many others decided to stay in Austria to continue their lives in Vienna even today. However my parents decided to move to Israel. So we arrived there.
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Nina Freedman

But why have you moved to Australia?

I was 8 month old at the time. The climate was very hot and unpleasent in Israel and we couldn’t settle there. My two sisters were born in Haifa. My father considered returning to Georgia, through Viena again, but due to the lack of documents required we needed to choose another country for example America, Canada or Australia. My Fathers selected Australia, as the process of applying seemed to be the easiest.

How would you describe life in Melbourne?

When we arrived we found a combination of Americans, Europeans but mainly British people amongs the population as well as Australians, adventurers and outdoor lovers.

We were very lucky and were readily accepted by the Australians into their community. We adapted very well. However some people were not so good at adapting and stuck to their traditional culture and ways. So they did not integrate very well with the general population.
Education was a key element to integration.
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Melbourne. Photo courtesy: tripadvisor.com.au

In the future I want to help facilitate tourism between the countries on the basis of identifying the wants and needs, make the most of creating some kind of mutual business between the two countries.

First photo courtesy: telegraph.co.uk

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