Radio Italiana

04 March, 2020

The Hon. J.S. LEE (15:21): It is a great honour to rise today in parliament to congratulate Radio Italiana 531AM for its 45 years of outstanding service to our South Australian community.

Forty-five years ago, on Monday 3 March 1975, Radio Italiana delivered its first program on air at 6pm in Italian language in South Australia. It was then known as Radio Paesano, and Enzo Dobrilla is believed to be the first Italian voice to be heard on air in Australia.

Yesterday, 3 March 2020, it was a privilege to be invited by Dr Antonio Cocchiaro AM, on the actual day of its anniversary, to speak directly on air to convey our heartfelt congratulations to Radio Italiana on behalf of the Premier, the Hon. Steven Marshall, and the South Australian government on their significant milestone of 45 years. As a first-generation migrant myself, I witnessed firsthand the critical importance of multicultural media and the roles they play in connecting people from culturally and linguistically diverse communities.

Australia is now a proud multicultural country, but it was not always the case. While we acknowledge that successive Australian governments had dismantled the White Australia Policy, we should be grateful that it was under the Fraser Liberal government that the immigration intake started to become more diverse and multicultural. For instance, some 200,000 Asian migrants came to Australia between 1975 and 1982, of whom 56,000 were Vietnamese refugees. During that period, the Australian Institute of Multicultural Affairs was created and extensive assistance was given to resettlement and multiculturalism, including the establishment of the Special Broadcasting Service (SBS).

As a result of extensive post-World War II immigration to Australia, including campaigns by the Italian community, the federal government began to consider the need for ethnic broadcasting. Until 1970, radio stations were prevented by law from broadcasting in foreign languages for more than 2.5 hours per week. With this in mind, one can imagine the challenges that the Italian community and founding members of Radio Italiana had to go through in order to deliver its first transmission in 1975.

The launch of the first Italian broadcast in 1975 was a momentous occasion. It is my privilege to acknowledge the vision and determination of the Italian community of South Australia for having the foresight and leadership to produce the Italian radio programs.

Radio Italiana has come a long way since transmitting from the homes of volunteers in 1975. From humble beginnings, when initial programs were produced around a table at Luciano Barteletti's home, the production was then transferred to the 5UV studios. Today, it proudly has its own premises, reaching over 90,000 listeners of Italian heritage across metropolitan and regional South Australia. I wish to pay tribute to those early pioneers and dedicated volunteers who laid the foundations for this success and whose legacy continues to make a difference today.

My sincere thanks go to the current president, Mr Mario Romaldi; the patron and immediate past president, Commodore Don Totino OAM; and all the board members, staff and volunteers for their strong leadership, tireless efforts and dedication to promoting Italian culture and language over our airways.

In addition to broadcasting, Radio Italiana has also carried out many humanitarian and philanthropic projects. A leading example is the compassion and generosity shown by Radio Italiana in their support of communities affected by the devastating bushfires across our state. Through a successful radiothon campaign and a bushfire fundraising dinner held on 22 January, Radio Italiana contributed over $50,000 towards the SA Bushfire Appeal. I was very pleased to represent the Premier at that fundraising dinner, and I was joined by the Hon. Vincent Tarzia.

I congratulate Radio Italiana on their 45th anniversary and thank them for their outstanding contributions in enriching our South Australian multicultural state. I very much look forward to attending the gala celebration later this year.