SA Italian Association

27 October, 2021

Adjourned debate on motion of the Hon. F. Pangallo:

That this council—

  1. Acknowledges the 70th anniversary of the South Australian Italian Association (SAIA);
  2. Recognises the contributions made by the SAIA to the advancement of multiculturalism in South Australia through the preservation and promotion of Italian culture, heritage, services and experiences within the Italian community and the wider community of South Australia;
  3. Acknowledges the enthusiastic work by the SAIA in fostering strong business and cultural ties between South Australia and Italy;
  4. Congratulates Dr Daniela Cosmini and Professor Diana Glenn on the publication of their book La Seconda Casa (The Second Home) marking and documenting the important history of the SAIA;
  5. Recognises South Australia's continuing strong business, trading, diplomatic and economic ties with Italy; and
  6. Identifies that Italian is the largest non-English language spoken in South Australian homes, and calls on Flinders University to immediately reverse its decision to cut the teaching of Italian.

The Hon. J.S. LEE (22:15): I am pleased to rise today on behalf of the government to speak to the motion moved by the Hon. Frank Pangallo, and thank him for moving this motion to acknowledge the 70th anniversary of the South Australian Italian Association, and to recognise the strong bilateral relationship between Italy and South Australia.

I was delighted to attend a magnificent gala ball held by the South Australian Italian Association to celebrate the 70th anniversary on 10 August 2019. It was a privilege to represent the Premier of South Australia, the Hon. Steven Marshall, on that milestone occasion to recognise the achievements and contributions of the South Australian Italian Association over the last seven decades.

I wish to take this opportunity to honour the outstanding hard work and significant contributions of the current South Australian Italian Association President Mr Phillip Donato, OAM, past presidents and current and past committee members, volunteers and supporters who have carried on the legacy of the founding members in serving the Italian community and enriching the wonderfully diverse multicultural society that we have here in South Australia.

The success stories by our proud and passionate Italian community can be found throughout South Australia, in the business and export sectors, in educational and health settings across all professions and industries and, of course, in politics—I think the Hon. Frank Pangallo is very proud of an Italian heritage—and in every aspect of our society.

The establishment of the South Australian Italian Association was inspired by very passionate and community-minded individuals who were determined to deliver social and welfare services to the Italian community as well as maintaining rich cultural traditions and values. Over the last 70 years, the South Australian Italian Association has been the centre of a range of community services for the Italian Australian community.

The suffering caused by the Second World War and the widening economic gulf between the north and south provided the impetus for many Italians to seek a better life elsewhere. During that time, Australia was embarking on an industrialisation and population program which opened to mass migration. Between July 1947 and 1950, over 33,000 Italians migrated to Australia.

Dating back to 1952, the Catholic Italian Welfare Association became an incorporated association and purchased the renowned Italian home at 262 Carrington Street, Adelaide. In 1965, the Catholic Italian Welfare Association was one of several Italian community organisations which merged to form the Italian Australian Centre. Following a further restructure, the South Australian Italian Association was formed and incorporated in 1967, and a new Italian Centre was built on the Carrington Street site.

The famous venue has hosted many discos and memorable functions, which other MPs have mentioned in this chamber. Today, the South Australian Italian Association shares the Italian Centre with the Italian Chamber of Commerce, the Dante Alighieri Society and Com.It.Es South Australia, which is the Committee for Italians Abroad.

It is this rich history, remarkable stories of hard work, shared heritage, courage and determination—the hallmark and qualities of members of the association—that were captured in La Seconda Casa, a book published by distinguished authors Emeritus Professor Diana Glenn and Dr Daniela Cosmini from Flinders University to mark the celebration of the association's 70th anniversary.

Based on interviews with current and past leaders and members of the association, the book is fittingly titled 'The Second Home' to reflect how the South Australian Italian Association clubrooms have been a second home and a community hub for many members of the South Australian Italian community over the decades.

I wish to take this opportunity to congratulate Professor Diana Glenn and Dr Daniela Cosmini on their outstanding work and for working with other community volunteers in preserving cherished memories and presenting a wonderful window of South Australia's history and recognising the vast contributions made by the Italian community to our state.

While sadly I could not attend the book launch of the 70th anniversary earlier this year, I was delighted that my parliamentary colleague the Hon. David Pisoni, Minister for Innovation and Skills, attended on behalf of the Premier and was also joined by the Hon. Vincent Tarzia, who has a very rich Italian heritage and who is the Minister for Police, Emergency Services and Correctional Services. The event was well supported by other distinguished guests including our former Governor, the Hon. Hieu Van Le AC, other dignitaries and many members of parliament from this place and the other place.

Today, it is my great privilege, on behalf of the Marshall Liberal government, to acknowledge the pioneering and entrepreneurial spirits of the Italian community and to pay tribute to the outstanding contributions that Italian migrants and their descendants have made and continue to make to our resilient and dynamic multicultural society.

Whether it is in a social, cultural or economic sphere of our community, the profound contributions made by the Italian community have permanently shaped many facets of our contemporary Australian life. Many multicultural communities look up to the Italian community as the backbone and successful role model of migration and multiculturalism.

Italian is the largest non-English language spoken in South Australia and we were all very pleased to hear that, on Monday 25 October 2021, Flinders University confirmed that the teaching of Italian will continue next year, with applications for first-year students to be reopened. I wish to thank the many community leaders and the Italian community of South Australia for their strong advocacy in this area, including the incredible work undertaken by Mr Adriano Stendardo, the Consul of Italy in South Australia, who has worked collaboratively with the state government in its discussions with Flinders University.

I would like to also acknowledge the Hon. John Gardner, Minister for Education, for his great support in this matter, along with the Premier, the Hon. Vincent Tarzia and SAMEAC board member Maria Maglieri. They are all passionate about preserving and promoting the Italian language and culture in our state. We wholeheartedly welcome the decision by Flinders University to retain the Italian program and are glad to see that an amendment will be moved by the Hon. Connie Bonaros MLC to reflect this positive news, which is indeed well received by everyone in the Italian community and the broader multicultural community.

On behalf of the South Australian government, congratulations once again to the South Australian Italian Association for their outstanding achievements and for delivering over 70 years of dedicated service to the Italian community in our state. I acknowledge the Hon. Frank Pangallo for bringing this very important motion to this chamber.

Bravo. Congratulations.