After the fall of the monarchy in Iran in 1979 there was a substantial increase in the number of immigrants coming from Iran to settle in Australia. During the ‘eighties many came because of the deteriorating situation in Iran caused by religious extremity, the ‘eight-year’ war with Iraq and the stop on westernisation in Iran. The Australian government had developed a humanitarian assistance program for Bahá’í people fleeing the religious persecution in Iran.
By the end of the decade the number of Iranians living in Victoria quadrupled. There was another influx of Iranian immigrants to Australia after 2000; mostly skilled and professional people educated in the West. The 2011 census recorded 7446 Iran-born Victorians, the second largest Iranian community in Australia after New South Wales. The 2016 census recorded the figure at 55 650.
In 1983 an independent unregistered organisation was formed to help Victoria’s Iranian community settle in their new homeland. Named the Iranian Association of Victoria, it was meant to celebrate Iranian tradition and culture, help Iranian newcomers find accommodation and work and assist them with health issues. It was replaced in 1991 by the Australian Iranian Society of Victoria (AISOV), a registered not-for-profit non-religious and non-political society. Its vision is to create harmony between the Iranian and Australian communities, celebrate the Iranian tradition and culture, educate Iranians about local laws, the Australian way of life, financial issues, health and well-being and mindfulness.
The AISOV also runs a library and a monthly magazine for its members, called “Golbong”. Associated organisations which provide cultural, social and educational services for the community:
- House of Persia – a cultural centre for events;
- Australian Iranian Youth Society of Victoria – activities and educational assistance for young people;
- Iranian Senior Society of Victoria – activities and assistance for old-aged people;
- Iranian Cultural School – an independent and private school established in 1982. Run by students’ parents, the school is a member of the Ethnic School Association of Victoria and teaches Persian language to Iranian and non-Iranian children. It accepts students for Prep and up to VCE level (year 12) and adult classes for English speaking individuals.
AISOV is a registered incorporated organisation, financed by income from cultural events, membership fees, and a small grant from the Australian government; there is no restriction on who becomes a member. The AISOV is located at 79 Mahoneys Road, Forest Hill.