Sasha Kos and Alenka Caserman about social media among Slovenians in Australia: the Facebook groups Slovenci v Avstraliji (Slovenians in Australia) and Novi Avstralci (New Australians).
You moderate two Facebook groups Slovenci v Avstraliji and Novi Avstralci, originally established by Sasha Kos a few years ago. Can you tell us more about these two groups? How important is social media for Slovenians in Australia?
Sasha Kos: The “Slovenci v Avstraliji” group was created first. It all started when I moved to Australia. I started to write a blog about my life in Australia and lots of people were reading it and sending me e-mails with questions about the immigration process. Soon I was getting more e-mails than I could handle, so I’ve created a Facebook group where these common questions could be addressed and shared with others. This Facebook group is now quite large and lots of Slovenians join the group to find out more about immigration to Australia. It now appears to be like a large Immigration Consulting Group, even though some still visit the group to meet fellow Slovenians that live in Australia.
The second group “Novi Avstralci” was created for Slovenians who moved to Australia – and the purpose of the group was to enable a channel for Slovenians in Australia to socialise and share experiences and problems. This is a private group for Slovenians currently living in Australia. People who were added to that group are in Australia on a permanent or semi-permanent basis. We try to only add current residents, but occasionally we also add Slovenians who are coming to Australia in near future. I’m not sure if “Novi Avstralci” group was as successful as I was hoping it would be. There are still a lot of questions about immigration on there as well. A lot of self-promoting; they are often promoting their own businesses and asking about employment opportunities.
Alenka Caserman: The groups are not as lively in the social aspect. But it’s still useful. One of the differences that distinguish us from similar cultures like Serbian is that we don’t have such a huge network where we would help each other to get jobs or start a business. This is just starting. It is probably the only place where Slovenians can promote their business to other Slovenians or ask other Slovenians if anyone knows about a job vacancy.
Sasha Kos: By creating these two Facebook groups we have answered a lot of questions and helped a lot of Slovenians transition to (or enquire about) life in Australia. Occasionally, we would share recipes of Slovenian dishes and help each other source or find replacement for certain recipe ingredients. In regards to socialising, I think in Australia, distance is a huge problem. We are all far apart. Even if we are all in Brisbane we might be an hour or two apart from each other traffic-wise. Everyone leads a busy life. Working hours are very long in Australia and by the time you get home it is seven o’clock. In Slovenia, people usually work close to home, but in Australia we spend a lot of time driving to and from work (50km each way is normal here). People in Australia (who work full-time) have very little or no time during the week for socialising, and due to the distances, it’s hard to catch-up during the weekends as well. So, having an online community is really useful and is a part of socialising, in such a huge country. If you are a Slovenian and want to meet a fellow Slovenian in Australia, you will most likely meet this person online first. And if you’re very lucky (and live close by) you may even meet in real life. But most of us communicate solely online.
Recently, an idea was posted on “Slovenci v Avstraliji” group about organising a Slovenian School (for adults and kids wishing to learn to speak Slovenian). The response was very positive and the project is now a reality, run by teachers/volunteers who are all members of “Slovenci v Avstraliji” Facebook group.
Alenka Caserman: “Slovenci v Avstraliji” was initially created to be a Facebook group for Slovenians living in Australia. But because there were so many (immigration) questions coming from outside we have decided to create a new group “Novi Avstralci” for social networking. “Slovenci v Avstraliji” now remains focused mostly on immigration. If you want to come to Australia and live here this group might be able to help you answer a few questions, because the members of this group are mostly Slovenians who went through the immigration process and now live in Australia. We want to keep the other group “Novi Avstralci” focused on social networking, and with regular content censorship we can prevent it from becoming another hub for immigration. It’s hard work though, but we haven’t given up.
Sasha Kos: “Alenka deserves all the credit for content moderation. I founded the groups but Alenka is keeping them alive.”
The Facebook groups are available at following links:
Slovenci v Avstraliji (Facebook Closed Group, 3,382 members on 2 October 2015)
Novi Avstralci (Facebook Closed Group, 262 members on 2 October 2015)
– Dr Elizabeth Tomažič, author of the book From Hands and Hearts: Slovenian Recipes in Australia. Read more.
– Nevenka Golc-Clarke, Hon. Consul for Slovenia in Queensland. Read more.
– Father Darko Žnidaršič OFM, Head of the Slovenian Catholic Mission and Church of St. Raphael in Merrylands – Sydney. Read more.
– Ludvik Štefko, a Slovenian chef and artist with a passion for herbs and spices. Read more.
– Draga Gelt OAM, the HASA Archives and the Slovenians in Australia websites. Read more.
– Jana Jereb, Sarah Robinson, Frank Pristov and Kate Pristov, participants of the Slovenian language course with a cooking lesson. Read more.
– Sasha Kos and Alenka Caserman, the Facebook groups Slovenci v Avstraliji and Novi Avstralci. Read more.