The Malta Independent 21 October 2021, Thursday

The changing face of the Maltese Diaspora

Malta Independent Sunday, 25 May 2014, 12:09 Last update: about 8 years ago

The vast majority of those who left these islands in the troubled years following the Second World War were mainly drawn from those who had no qualifications or those who had been rendered redundant by the Dockyard and other military-related jobs. In Australia, the number of these, the first generation, is now dwindling, having reached just over 40,000.

On the other hand, the number of people with a Maltese background from the second and subsequent generations is growing at a considerable pace, now reaching over 160,000. In other words, the proportion of first generation to the total is now no more than one in five.

It is a fact that for most Maltese living in Malta, their idea of Maltese living overseas is often coloured by their acquaintance with persons of the first generation, which, of course, reflects the Maltese population as it was more than half a century ago. However, in Australia, as in Malta, there have been very significant changes that have occurred over the years, quietly, without much fanfare, and certainly very frequently ignored by the media and the general public in Malta.

So what does the typical Maltese living overseas look like these days?

There is indeed considerable variation among Maltese, as for any other ethnic groups, and it might well be argued that there is no such thing as a typical second-generation Maltese person.

A survey carried out recently throws some light on this issue. Persons in this category are more likely to have the following characteristics:

They are likely to be in the 40-50 age group, but a few might well be  over 60 and retired by now;

More than half of them have a tertiary qualification;

Most would be married, often to non-Maltese, and most likely have two children, rarely more;

The vast majority consider themselves to be Maltese-Australians, and only a small proportion consider themselves as unhyphenated ‘Australian’;

About half of them are likely to be able to understand some Maltese, but very few can speak it fluently. Moreover, it is the exception to find that they speak Maltese to their children;

They do not belong to Maltese organisations;

They do not listen to Maltese radio or watch Maltese programmes on television;

A considerable number keep in touch with Maltese affairs, particularly through the internet;

A considerable proportion would vote in Maltese or European elections if facilities (like postal voting) was made available;

About a third of them possess a Maltese passport, and about an equal number intend to apply for one;

The majority have visited Malta, often on several occasions, and are impressed by what they found.

One can draw certain conclusions from these findings, assuming they represent the overall second-generation persons of Maltese background in Australia.

It is clear that maintaining the Maltese language has become practically impossible in spite of intensive efforts by various community leaders and other bodies. The high degree of intermarriage with non-Maltese-speaking partners makes language maintenance so much more difficult.

However, there is still a relatively strong link with the mother country, as evinced by their emphasis on their Maltese ethnicity, the number having Maltese passports and their intention to apply for one if they do not, the high number of people visiting Malta, and also, surprisingly, from their interest in Maltese and European political issues.


The full report can be downloaded from:

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