SA Italian Community

30 November, 2022

Adjourned debate on motion of Hon. C.M. Scriven:

That this Council—

  1. Recognises the contribution of the Italian community to South Australia and the role of the South Australian Italian Association which has served the Italian community in South Australia for more than 70 years;
  2. Congratulates the recipients of the inaugural SAIA Awards on 12 November, including Rosa Matto (Culture and Art Award), Enzo Lombi (Research & Development and Innovation Award), the Romeo family (Business Award), Joyce and Joseph Ceravolo (Young Achiever Award); and
  3. Congratulates Antonietta Cocchiaro on receiving the Italian Honour of Cavalier of the Italian Republic and acknowledges her contribution to Italian radio and her role with the South Australian Multicultural Commission.

The Hon. J.S. LEE (Deputy Leader of the Opposition) (12:46): It is a great privilege to rise today on behalf of the Liberal Party and as Shadow Minister for Multicultural South Australia to speak on this motion to recognise the outstanding contributions of the South Australian Italian Association and the Italian community in South Australia.

While recognising the valuable reference in the motion moved by the Hon. Clare Scriven, I wish to indicate that I am seeking to amend the motion in order to make the terms of reference more inclusive and provide a better reflection of all South Australians who have received honours awarded by the Italian Government for their meritorious service to the Italian community.

I move to amend the motion as follows:

Delete paragraph 3 and insert the following two new paragraphs:

  1. Congratulates Antonietta Cocchiaro OAM and Dr Phillip Donato OAM on receiving the Italian Honour of Cavalier of the Italian Republic and acknowledges their contributions to the Italian community and the broader multicultural community; and
  2. Congratulates all South Australians who have received the Orders of Merit of the Italian Republic and thanks them for their contributions in South Australia.

The mover of this motion, the Hon. Clare Scriven, may not have realised that Dr Phillip Donato OAM was also awarded the Italian Honour of Cavalier of the Italian Republic on the same day as Mrs Toni Cocchiaro OAM.

Therefore, it is most justified that the terms of this motion be corrected on the public record to provide a true reflection to recognise the two outstanding Italian community leaders who have been awarded Cavalier this year, namely Mrs Toni Cocchiaro OAM and Dr Phillip Donato OAM, who is the President of the SA Italian Association.

I ask respectfully for the mover and all Honourable Members here in this chamber to accept these amendments so that all of us have the opportunity to highlight the significant contributions of the respective Italian community leaders in South Australia and the vital role of the South Australian Italian Association.

Through outstanding leadership and amazing work from generations of presidents, committees and volunteers, the SA Italian Association has been serving the Italian community in our state for more than 70 years.

In fact, I wish to reiterate some of the comments I made in this place last year when the Hon. Frank Pangallo introduced a motion to acknowledge and congratulate the SA Italian Association on celebrating its 70th anniversary in 2019.

Over the last seven decades, the SA Italian Association has been the centre of a range of community services for the Italian Australian community.

Its establishment 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.

Today, the South Australian Italian Association shares the Italian Centre with the Italian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the Dante Alighieri Society and Com.It.Es South Australia, which is the Committee for Italians Abroad.

The rich history of the association was captured in a book published to mark the 70th anniversary celebrations, called La Seconda Casa (The Second Home) to reflect how the South Australian Italian Association have been a second home and community hub for many members of the South Australian Italian community over the decades.

I wish to take this opportunity to honour the outstanding hard work and significant contributions of the current South Australian Italian Association President Dr 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 multicultural society in South Australia.

Honourable Members would be aware that we have just celebrated the Adelaide Italian Festival between 11 to 20 November 2022.

The reformatted Italian Festival featured an astounding number of events, almost 60 events over 10 days this year. Congratulations to the festival chair, committee and everyone involved in putting together this amazing program of events.

As part of the festival, the SAIA held the inaugural Awards Gala Evening that showcased the extraordinary achievements of individuals and organisations who, through their distinguished service, helped to strengthen the Italian culture and multiculturalism in South Australia.

I understand that there were almost 40 applications and 12 fantastic finalists across four award categories.

On behalf of the Liberal Party, I would like to convey our heartfelt congratulations to the well-deserving 2022 SAIA inaugural award recipients in the following four categories.

In the Culture and Art Award category, which includes education, music, language, sport and cuisine, I would like to congratulate Ms Rosa Matto on receiving the inaugural Culture and Art Award for her longstanding service to the Italian community across this field.

Rosa is passionate about promoting food and her proud Italian heritage and uses her exceptional culinary skills to connect with people from all walks of life.

In the Research and Development and Innovation Award category, which includes higher education, research, startups and innovative entrepreneurs - Professor Enzo Lombi is the Research Professor and Barbara Hardy Chair in Environmental Science and Engineering in the Future Industries Institute of the University of South Australia.

Enzo was awarded the Research and Development and Innovation Award.

In the Business Award category, which includes the primary sector, secondary sector and tertiary sector, the award was presented to the Romeo family, an icon of the supermarket industry in South Australia—it is a household name in South Australia.

What began as a small convenience store in 1987 has progressively become Australia's largest family-owned independent supermarket business.

The Romeo family has always remained focused on setting the benchmark in the industry for their innovation, leadership and staff development.

It is always a pleasure to see the Romeo family's longstanding support for so many Italian events all year round. Their hearts are not only in expanding their business success, they are such generous contributors to our community, and we are very grateful.

In the Young Achiever Award category, which includes young people who have achieved excellence in their field of work or study and have achieved a noteworthy personal accomplishment or developed a creative or innovative project or initiative, the award was presented to Joyce and Joseph Ceravolo, the sister and brother team who took over the family's Ashton Valley Fresh juicing business in 2013.

Under their leadership the business has become synonymous with innovation and sustainability. I was at the Food SA Awards Gala, and it was such a joy to see both of them up on stage receiving the Innovation in Business Award at the SA Premier's Food and Beverage Industry Awards.

Congratulations to all the wonderful winners. It was very well-deserved indeed.

I am delighted that my parliamentary colleagues the Hon. John Gardner, Member for Morialta, and Mr Vincent Tarzia, Member for Hartley, attended the SAIA Awards Gala, to witness the accomplishments of these outstanding individuals and organisations.

Mr President, please allow me to turn my attention to community leaders who have been included in the Italian Honour of Cavalier of the Italian Republic.

In October of this year, I was honoured to attend a welcome reception hosted by Com.It.Es to introduce a new Ambassador of Italy in Australia, His Excellency Mr Paolo Crudele.

It was a wonderful opportunity to meet the new ambassador during his first official to Adelaide after being appointed in August this year.

It was also a privilege to witness a very special recognition of two outstanding South Australian Italian community leaders, and wonderful friends, during the reception.

Ms Antonietta Cocchiara OAM and Dr Phillip Donato OAM were awarded the honour of Cavalier by the ambassador for their exceptional contributions and meritorious service to society.

The title of Cavalier—or Knight or Dame—is a formal recognition awarded by the Italian Government to those who have distinguished themselves for their social work and dedication to the Italian community and the diaspora.

I am immensely proud that both Toni and Phillip have now been recognised by the Australian Government as well as the Italian Government by being awarded the Order of Australia and the Italian Order of Merit in this momentous way.

Antonietta, or Toni, was the Deputy Chair of the South Australian Multicultural and Ethnic Affairs Commission from 2018 to 2021 and is currently the Deputy Chair of the Australia Day Council of South Australia.

Toni has been a member of the Ethnic Schools board, the Multicultural Education Coordinating Committee and the Coordinating Italian Committee education subcommittee.

She was awarded the Order of Australia for ongoing contributions to Italian radio in South Australia.

As mentioned earlier, Dr Phillip Donato OAM is the President of the SA Italian Association and board member of the Adelaide Italian Festival.

Phillip is a healthcare professional and chiropractic consultant who has co-owned a multidisciplinary practice for over 35 years. He has chaired a diverse range of professional, government and community boards and organisations, and has long-standing involvement with the Hutt St Centre for the homeless, the Lions Medical Research Foundation and a number of international charities.

On behalf of the South Australian Liberal Party, I wish to extend my heartfelt congratulations to Toni and Phillip on these incredible achievements and thank them for their wonderful services to strengthening the bilateral relationship between Italy and South Australia.

Finally, I wish to further extend congratulations to all the South Australians who have received meritorious honours from the Italian Government.

There are so many, such a long list, so I will not be mentioning them all. We are just very fortunate to have a large, passionate, and dynamic Italian community in South Australia, and have so many highly regarded and decorated community leaders in our midst.

I understand the Member for Hartley intends to go into further detail in the other place about all these individuals, and I look forward to reading his contribution on a similar motion in the other place.

Congratulations once again. I thank the Hon. Clare Scriven for moving this motion and recognising the Italian community.

Grazie mille!