Dutch Community

The Dutch Community is Tasmania's largest non-English speaking background community. It was established in the immediate post-war years through the chain migration of Dutch immigrants from the northern provinces of the Netherlands (especially Groningen) as well as the migration of individuals from central and southern provinces. Unlike the Dutch communities on the Australian mainland whose members are predominantly Catholic, the majority of the Dutch in Tasmania are Protestant.

In the 1950s and 1960s many Dutch immigrants in Hobart and Launceston assimilated and became indistinguishable from the Australian-born population. However, distinctive Dutch communities were also established on the north-west coast and in the Channel district in the south. These communities revolved around participation in the Reformed Churches of Australia, parent-controlled Christian schools and employment in the building industry and associated trades. The Australian Building Corporation located at Kingston was pivotal in the sponsorship and employment of Dutch immigrants to Hobart.

By the 1970s, these Dutch communities had become less geographically concentrated while organisations such as the schools and churches had become more diverse in their membership. The Dutch–Australian Society 'Abel Tasman' was established in 1970 with its membership predominantly drawn from Dutch immigrants who were not of the Reformed faith. The religious divisions within the Dutch community began to decline markedly in the 1980s, symbolised by the wide community support for the construction of the Abel Tasman fountain in Salamanca Place, which was officially opened by Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands as part of Australia's bicentennial celebrations in 1988.

Further reading: R Julian, 'Dutch settlement in Tasmania', in J Jupp (ed), The Australian people (second edition), Cambridge, 2001.

Roberta Julian