06 Mar Le Courrier Australien: French-Australian newspaper celebrates 125th anniversary
Story by Tiffany Fung
Serving as the longest-running foreign language newspaper in Australia, Le Courrier Australien has been bridging the gap between French and Australian communities for 125 years.
From what started out as a way for French speakers to retain their language and cultural identity in Australia, the newspaper has now grown to become a bilingual publication that educates readers on the latest news in Australia and Europe.
From a traditional newspaper to digital publication, Le Courrier Australien has now more than 125,000 readers per month, despite there only being around 70,000 French-speakers living in Australia.
To celebrate the 125th anniversary, Editor-in-Chief François Vantomme said Le Courrier Australien will this year be releasing a 180-page magazine showcasing the most significant front pages from the newspaper’s historical archives.
“This book will be bilingual and will showcase the most important events in the French-Australian history from the archives,” François said.
François said the newspaper has been a central site attracting people from various generations in France and Australia.
“I am very proud of it,” François remarked.
“I knew it was important, but I didn’t know how important.
There are a lot of people, particularly older people, coming to me to say they are happy that they have their newspaper back and that’s something that really touches me.
Born in Belgium, François worked as a journalist for the majority of his career before moving to Australia with his wife.
When François arrived, he found it difficult to find a job as a journalist with limited work experience in Australia.
Motivated by his desire to find work and expand his network in Australia, François launched a successful website called Voila Sydney, which was eventually merged with Le Courrier Australien in November 2016.
Working alongside the French embassy to showcase French experience and innovation, François and his team wanted to keep the main bilingual spirit of the newspaper alive, by creating separate French and English web pages.
This came from a need to expose the Australian community to the French language, culture and philosophy while allowing French speakers to become closer to their roots in this country.
Launched on both language pages, the ‘Learn French’ category makes it easier for readers to learn and adopt the French language with timeless articles featuring a glossary of French words.
At the same time, the French page includes a ‘Did You Know’ category, which features different stories about Australia that people may not have known previously, such as the significance of ANZAC Day.
François said this allowed the French speaking community in Australia to understand more about the country and has given easier access for them to talk with their Australian friends and peers.
“It is very important to educate the Australian people about what is happening in this country, and this is the same for the French speakers,” he said.
If you want to go to the pub and speak with Australian people, you need to know what they are talking about, what is happening in their country and what their interests are.
“If you can talk about Tony Abbott or the cricket match that happened on the weekend, it is easier to converse. So, for the immersion in the community, this is so important.”
If you would like to contribute to Le Courrier Australien, please email François on email@example.com.