My Australian Story: Rada Biorac

  • 17 November 2023

Rada Biorac has called the far-north Western Australian outback town of Kununurra home for 50 years, during which time she has been a significant and highly-contributing member of the community. Below, she reveals the challenges she faced and overcame, the opportunities she embraced, and the life she has created for herself and her family, by not just living in Australia, but fully immersing herself in it.

Here’s Rada’s story, in her own words.

I grew up in Yugoslavia and came to Australia when I was 19 years old with my husband who I’d met through a friend while he was on holidays visiting family. He was originally from Yugoslavia, but he’d already lived in Australia for seven years. Not very long after we met, we got married and have been together now for 50 years. Soon after we married, we left for Australia. He lived in an outback town called Kununurra and loved it and hoped that I’d love it too.

At first, I found it difficult living in Kununurra as I couldn’t speak English and Kununurra was so vastly different to the city I’d grown up in. The town was out in the middle of nowhere, very small and dusty, and I didn’t know anyone here. I’d grown up in a cosmopolitan city with all my family around me. Originally, we thought we would be here for maybe two years or so and then go back to Yugoslavia. But Kununurra started to grow on me. We started our own business in building, painting and renovations and then started building our own house.

group of women at craft stall
As a member of the CWA, Rada makes arts and crafts to fundraise for local services

By the time my daughter started school, my roots were firmly in the ground and I felt at home in Kununurra and Australia. I realised that Australia offered so many opportunities that I wouldn’t have had in Yugoslavia. Women had more of a say and freedom in Australia, so I liked that and the fact that I could have my own business.  Plus, it was easier to build a home here as the wages were so much better. It was also a better place for my daughter – for her schooling, higher education and career options. I always encouraged my daughter to go further in her education.

I was brought up in a house where the boys were educated before the girls, there were four of us – two girls and two boys – and dad thought he needed to put the money for education into the boys as they were going to be the future leaders of their families… so my dad put the money into paying for my brothers’ higher education. I wanted to go to university to study visual art and folk dancing, but I couldn’t go.

In Australia, I was determined to succeed, so I learnt the language and I went to many meetings and clubs, and I went to TAFE and learnt China Painting and became a teacher of China painting. I’m a member of the WA Teachers of China Painting and I have been exhibiting since the ‘80s. I taught myself how to do a variety of art and craft mediums and I also learnt quilting.  So, I still achieved the arts side of things here in Kununurra – it just took me a bit longer. You just don’t know where life will take you, but I stayed on track as I was determined to keep on going in the arts, and it worked out in the end because in Australia you have so many opportunities.

woman holding up quilt next to a photo of a china painting
(L) Rada with a quilt she made that was exhibited for the 2000 Sydney Paralympics; (R) Rada’s China painting

I started to meet a lot of people in the community by joining several clubs. I liked the comradery. I enjoyed raising money for different charities through my sewing and cooking with different organisations. I started in the Arts Council committee and one of the first events I helped organise was the annual Mardi Gras. I also loved being around kids and got involved in many kids’ activities through the school P&C, organising school fetes and helping out at the gymnastics club, umpiring kids netball and volunteering at the school canteen. I also enjoyed working as a casual cook in the Childcare centre.

We had many opportunities to go overseas and visit family, so that was good. I didn’t miss my family so much. We could work hard and make good money, so we could go and visit family every few years and I could give my parents the opportunity to travel from Yugoslavia to WA to visit us – they had never been on a plane before, so it felt great that I had inspired them to visit. They said that where we lived was the best, with lots of water and beautiful countryside.

Overall, by the age of 21, I got to call Australia and Kununurra home. I owned a business, had learnt a new language and immersed myself in supporting community events, clubs and school activities. I found that I wanted to inspire other people and tell them that they could also achieve anything they wanted to in life by being positive and working hard.

For being such an active, committed and community-minded resident of Kununurra for so long, Rada was named the 2023 Senior Community Citizen of the Year for Shire of Wyndham East Kimberley.

The person who nominated me had heard of the different things I was involved in over the last 50 years. It cheered me up a lot, because I was in hospital at the time having a knee replacement! I felt not only recognised, but also respected – I think that word has been lost a bit. It’s the icing on the cake, and I really appreciate and respect it, and I encourage other people to help organisations and go to committee meetings and volunteer, because that inspires and builds a better future for our kids.

family smiling to camera
Rada’s daughter, husband and grandchildren accepting the Community Citizen of the Year Award on her behalf

Find out more about the Community Citizen of the Year Awards and nominate someone who makes a difference to your community at

The Community Citizen of the Year Awards are proudly supported by Department of Communities, 9News Perth, 6PR Perth and WA Today.

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