the new west

this is the west
the new west
a place of contrasts

old industry and aging housing for the 50’s immigrants
old Europe come in hope to live in new Australia
to be ‘New Australians’
more recent the stagnant slippage into unemployment
boredom
drugs and suicide rates
urban leprosy and tawdry reputation

new housing tracts of five hundred homes in a hit
welcome to beautiful Caroline Springs
just ten kilometres up the freeway from Melton
growth corridors sans infrastructure
new-wave arrivals
Vietnam
Afghanistan
Cambodia
new support groups and migrant resource centres
loneliness and depression

the Service-Partnership meeting
is peopled by community representatives with old-European faces
the early immigrant waves have become Establishment here
there are no Asian faces
and only three men in a sea of women

Ms Urbana is in the chair
on behalf of the indigenously named Community Health Centre
a tall big-boned woman with round face and round eyes
dark hair touched with purple tones reflected in the down-lights
she has no accent but that of Keilor
and yet she is straight out of some Slavia

Vesna is the admin assistant
Lydia has a point of order

the Coordinator of Projects has caught my eye
with the movement of her hands
her several rings catching the light
she also may be multi-faceted
the fingers are extraordinary             over-sized slenderness
she is using the long pointer to make a circle that remains
hanging in the air as an outline the width of her fingertip
when she makes a fist for emphasis
it is the size of a man
a disproportionately powerful appearance
on such a slender body frame

this is the new west
old wogs in control
new wogs the out-of-sight subjects of discussion
welcome aboard sir
what do you have to contribute?


© Frank Prem, 2002


This piece is taken from an unpublished set of poems reflecting on change over time in the Western Suburbs of Melbourne. This was an area that was turned into suburbs back in the 1950’s or thereabouts and accommodated the waves of European migration into Australia. It was know as a ‘New Australian’ area, filled with ‘wogs’ and other such unflattering names.

I knew the area as a youngster from visiting with family, and revisited as an up and coming Project Officer in the Department of Health in the late 1990’s and thereabouts.

Other poems in the set may appear (or not). Here’s one: a ride on the St Albans line

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3 thoughts on “the new west

  1. Interesting how cities and towns and countries choose to allocate and welcome refuges, and the process, the whole set-up – it can be as equally disenfranchised as having to seek refuge or even choosing to emigrate. Either way, it certainly makes for an wealthy subject to mine, from so many points of view.

    Liked by 1 person

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