During the 1960′s and 1970′s there was a wave of migration from Spain and Latin America to Australia. Upon arrival, migrants were faced with the challenge of a new way of life. In order to survive in Australia, it was necessary to learn all of the aspects of the new culture: language, legal system, and new ways of doing things. The experience of migrating to a new country, and being far away from one’s own country, can be extremely overwhelming and have psychological effects.
It was precisely during this difficult time that migrant’s special needs were not taken into consideration and, hence, no services were available to assist them with the process of settling into a new country and culture. In time, however, the Good Neighbourhood Council (el consejo del buen vecino) was established. This small organization, run by volunteers, assisted recent arrivals by offering them support and by communicating with them in Spanish. The lack of services available to this migrant group became evident and caused social workers to intervene. Shortly after, these social workers (in conjunction with the Good Neighbourhood Council) organised a seminar for professors, health care workers, and people of the community. At this seminar the participants agreed that an organisation specifically for the Spanish Speaking Community needed to be formed. Such an organization would include all Spanish Speaking individuals, irrespective of nationality, religion, or political beliefs. This is how NSW SLASA came to be.
NSW SLASA’s first office opened on November 5th, 1979 in Burwood. Since that time, the organisation has remained an independent community organisation and continues to provide free services for the Spanish speaking community regardless of their nationality or participation within the organisation.