The Australian Ukrainian community traces its foundation to the arrival of post-World War 2 refugees from war torn Europe. These refugees were termed Displaced Persons and began arriving in 1948. Prior to 1948 only a small number had arrived, and most of these were not nationally aware individuals. The most notable of these was Nicolai Miklouho-Maclay, an ethnographer and naturalist who visited Australia in 1878, and was responsible for the building of Australia’s first biological field station at Watson’s Bay in NSW.
Today, there is an active Ukrainian community of about 38,000 people, predominantly living in Melbourne and Sydney. There are also Ukrainian centres in Geelong, Brisbane, Perth, Adelaide and Canberra. Smaller centres exist in Queanbeyan, Hobart, Newcastle, Moe, Albury-Wodonga, and Northam.
The 1950’s saw a huge birth of community organisations, churches and centres. They brought with them what they treasured most: - their Christian faith, their traditions and their seven-thousand-year-old culture. Gradually over the years of settlement, Ukrainians through their own hard work and dedication, built a network of churches, community centres, financial institutions and language schools throughout Australia, and fund Ukrainian studies at Monash and Macquarie universities. The Ukrainian schools provide opportunities for students to learn the language, history, literature and culture of the Ukrainian people. The community centre provides a meeting place for various youth, women's and senior citizens’ social activities, recreation, concerts and so forth. The dance ensemble regularly represents Ukrainians at many festivals and the choir performs a variety of songs at concerts.
In 1975 Australia adopted the policy of Multiculturalism which saw the rise of Ukrainian language radio programming around the country, as well as funding opportunities for artistic groups, for language classes.
The incorporation of recently arrived Ukrainians into existing community structures is of high priority to the community.
Australia’s Ukrainian community is actively engaged in dialogue activities with other faiths and communities as well as in the process of developing a multicultural society which recognises religious, as well as ethnic, diversity.
The media resources play a great role in consolidating cultural and social life of the Ukrainian community in Australia. In 1960’s there were over 20 different publications, some of which existed today.
Nowadays the major publishing media resources are only two newspapers: “Free Thought” and “Church and Life” (are being published in two languages, Ukrainian and English). In particular, “Free Thought” is the first Ukrainian newspaper in Australia and has being published in Sydney from July 10, 1949. It has its representatives in Melbourne, Adelaide, Wollongong and Newcastle. “Church and Life” has being published in Melbourne from April 1960.
There are two Ukrainian radio stations in Victoria: “SBS” and “Three ZZZ”. Ukrainian radio station «SBS» also operates in Sydney.
In June 2009 Mr Volodymyr Shumskyi, Chief Editor of “Free Thought” was awarded by the Order of Australia for his service to the Ukrainian and the Australian community.
The Ukrainian community of South Australia also issues the Ukrainian-language monthly magazine “Our Community”.
Mr Stefan Romaniw OAM, AFUO Chairman, Mr Valeriy Botte, Honorary Consul of Ukraine in Melbourne, Mr Volodymyr Shumskyi, Chief Editor of the Ukrainian magazine “Free Thought” Professor Marko Pavlyshyn, sports coach Victor Kovalenko, artist M.Kmit.
Mr Marian Tkachuk, AFUO Deputy Chairman, Mr Peter Lyutak, Head of NSW Ukrainian community, Mr Volodymyr Golovko, Mrs Christina Bailey, Head of the Ukrainian Women’s Union of Australia, Ms Melaniya Moravska-Dehnich, Ms Oksana Tarnavska, Father Zenon Horkavyi, Mrs Orysia Stefyn, President of the Ukrainian Council of Education in Australia and others are among the most active representatives of the Ukrainian community of Australia.