Helga M Griffin

Helga Maria Griffin (née Girschik) was born in Turkey in 1935. In 1956, she married an Australian in Rome. She subsequently raised six children in Australia and Papua New Guinea. She taught in further education, and from 1979–98 was on the staff of the Australian Dictionary of Biography project. With Anthony Regan, she edited the comprehensive study Bougainville Before the Conflict (Pandanus Books, 2005).

At Home in Exile »

A Memoir

Authored by: Helga M Griffin
Publication date: 2021
This is a story of a girl’s construction of her identity, and of her family’s search for a place in the world, for the Heimat that is so resonant for those of German background. We follow Helga through an adventurous childhood in Iran, whose vast open spaces her mother called ‘my spiritual home’. Her engineer father worked on a grand scale, designing and laying roads and railways, and tunnelling through mountain ranges. Then came the invasions of World War II, and the family, half-German, half-Austrian, found themselves on a long voyage to Australia, designated enemy aliens. They were interned for nearly five years in the dusty Victorian countryside. On their release at the end of the War, stranded in Melbourne, they sought another home. The children were dispatched to convents, and at the Academy of Mary Immaculate, Helga found a temporary homeland, in faith. Everyday life in the Australia of the late 1940s and early 1950s is freshly seen by this feisty, loving migrant family. Through their eyes, we encounter a strange place, Australia, as if for the first time. Helga’s development from a thoughtful, sensitive child to a self-possessed young woman, wrestling with her faith and with how to live a decent life, is vividly recounted.

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Bougainville before the conflict »

Publication date: August 2015
One of the most beautiful island groups of the Pacific, Bougainville has a remarkable history. Tragically, it is as the site of devastating civil conflict that Bougainville is perhaps best known. In exploring the rich environmental, cultural and social heritage of Bougainville before the conflict, this collection provides an insight into the long-term causes of the crisis. In doing so, it surveys such topics as Bougainville’s prehistory and traditional cultures, the impact of German and Australian colonialism, the attempts by disparate local cultures to find a common identity, the assertion of political autonomy in the face of coercion to integrate with Papua New Guinea, and contemporary efforts to resolve conflict and plan a viable future. A landmark collaboration between expert commentators on Bougainville and Bougainvilleans themselves, this volume provides a comprehensive picture for those seeking to understand Bougainville’s history and future directions. Bougainville before the conflict was published in association with the State, Society and Governance in Melanesia Project, which is supported by The Australian National University and the Commonwealth of Australia.