top of page
Jamaica Zuanetti
00:00 / 15:02

Audio Transcript:

my mum was born in a town called Castelfranco, which is in the region of Veneto so it's just really a train

ride even maybe a couple of hours from Venice and funnily my father is also

from that part of town and mum's, like, town, Castelfranco, was really kind of

little yeah with a medieval castle and then Asolo is more, kind of a bit, almost

a bit more regional, I guess and it's got another castle yeah, so they're not like

in big cities the closest big city would be Venice

your mum was born there and

then when did she come to Australia?

I think it was like 1958

so she came with my

grandmother and her younger brother and sister and my grandfather had already

moved here so he'd lived here a year, he'd set up a house, um I think found work, found a house and

set up a house on um Faraday Street in Carlton so really central

the rest the family

came over all the family... or what it was at that stage which was the 3 kids, came over

um mum's one of six

and so three of them...

- yeah, were born in Italy and came on a ship - were born in Italy

do you know why your mum and your grandparents migrated to Australia?

you know it's a

similar post Second World War there not be much work

my grandfather um, was a

bricklayer yeah there wasn't that much work I think there was just like the

choice between Australia and Canada and then they realised that...because of

the climate there wouldn't be as much work and so decided on Australia

umm and I guess my grandmother, I don't really think had, it wouldn't have been too much

of a choice really, I don't know

I don't think I spoke to her about whether or not she

was really disappointed about having to move, I can imagine it would be really

hard cause I think she would have been maybe about 30

and her entire family was back in Italy, she didn't know anyone and mum was the

eldest of like seven or six, when she came over, and then my uncle Robert would have been

maybe about four and then Renata would have been maybe two or three, like they were all very close in age

they were very little

did you grow up speaking Italian or did your mum?

mum did, mum's fluent, she speaks... mainly you would have grown up speaking

a dialect from, a Veneto dialect, which is quite funny like it was familiar growing

up hearing it but it's um quite, I think, a different sound to Italian it's got

like... it's got 'x's in the alphabet which

I don't know I haven't seen it written but I did see it a few years ago written

and just yeah different sounding so my first language was Italian but then

my mum went to take me to kinder and I didn't understand a thing so she felt really

bad so she started speaking to me in English at home and then it's just been

continuous so it's really been that I've learn Italian through when I spend time with

my grandparents my grandfather spoken spoke English

but my grandmother never really left the house

yeah right

she was a housewife so... and all her friends were Italian so like, even though she spent more time and lived

- longer in Australia she still didn't speak English - speak English, yeah

do you know much about the dialect that was spoken in Veneto

and the different cultural traditions that are unique to Veneto?

uh I mean... honestly not too much apart from the

yeah that it being a dialect and like knowing that it had I think maybe a bit of a

like Spanish influence

oh really? wow

I think maybe because Venice was such a huge port and all the different influences

mum's always had a bit of a snob factor of

being from the north of Italy and it being a bit more industrial and

not so much, ah you know, as in working classes... although my grandfather was a bricklayer so I don't

really really know where that comes from

but just that there is this... like a class difference between the North and the South

yeah and for some reason mum has

a real issue with it or like really wants to say that she she's from the

north and also the idea like I guess my grandfather was blonde and blue-eyed and

I don't know why that's a trump card

do you think that comes from looking less stereotypically Italian?

maybe, I mean I still feel that, for me,

like Italian is very different anyway because when you go to Italy, I feel

like there's a whole lot of different looks and I think it's really been

created here in Australia of what 'Italian' looks like from stereotypes of

things like I mean I guess that was Greek, but like things like Wog Boy and stuff like that

like they're kind of really drawing on these stereotypes

yeah because you've got the different influences as well like obviously the north is gunna

be fairer because you've got Austria and Germany bordering um and then obviously through the South you've got North Africa

and like Greece and a bit of a mix

I wonder if you could talk a little bit about how migration has affected your family or you personally

in terms of me personally

I...I don't know I feel like it's even dependent on where you've grown up I

feel like I grew up around sort of Elwood and St. Kilda where there wasn't a

huge Italian community so I didn't really ever grow up feeling particularly

Italian or didn't want to, apart from like spending time with my family and a lot

of my family who grew up in the northern suburbs had a bit more of an attachment to being Italian

maybe you'll have more friends that have Italian backgrounds, I don't

actually think I have that many friends...very like Anglo


I think initially it was fine for my grandparents because my grandfather was able to find a job

and able to integrate, in a way, as a bricklayer like Australia was really

like I think promoting the idea of inviting immigrants at that time


um because they wanted to build up... so I think it was maybe completely

different to now, even though that wasn't the reception that Italians got

they needed people for economic prosperity but also interpersonally people weren't

received well even though there was an influx and that's very different now

- there's both levels of discrimination - yeah, yes

I remember asking my grandmother and she... I think because her family was so important to her, like making

kind of stepping out and feeling like she had a community wasn't as big a deal

because she had that, I think she had her next-door neighbours, I think there was a

Greek family and that was fine and I remember asking her like

'ohh, were people racist towards you?' and she was like 'well if they were I didn't understand'

but my grandfather passed away when I was nine so I've never

really spoken about what kind of reception... or whether it was hard for him in terms

of working but he yeah he had an an accident where he fell and injured

himself really badly and broke his wrist so he couldn't really go back to work so that's kind

of where everything fell apart for mum's family because then that meant mum got

taken out of school and got put to work as a 14 year old so she became sort of the breadwinner

not breadwinner..well yeah essentially, until my grandfather could work again

yeah I wish I still had my grandmother to ask but I feel like maybe she would have

felt maybe more of a loss of family and community, I think she was so involved

with family that like being part of the greatest society wasn't important to her

especially if she wasn't having to go out in the workforce, whereas mum would have made

more of an effort but again, she said where she was working, she first got a job

in a clothes store, where again in Carlton lots of like Greeks and Italians,

was able to find friends there and obviously then she would have been speaking English

do you think there is a separate Italian Australian identity that is

separate from Australian culture and also separate from Italian culture?

I feel like it falls into that

yeah the stereotypical, maybe, that Italian Australian which is things that

you get from like Vince Colosimo doing wog boy... sort of things like that I've

never wanted to be associated with that and that kind of, you know, really woggy accent

I hate saying that word but I just don't know how else to I think yeah I've

tried to not identify with that and maybe I've even kind of probably

polished the way I speak but I think obviously growing up here and then

growing up in South Eastern suburbs and going to a very very Anglo school has meant that, yeah I haven't wanted to

identify with the Italian Australian

has your experience of that word been that

it's something negative, something that you don't want to be associated with?

I think so, especially when it's thrown at you, like when people say 'oh you're a wog'

I'm like 'no I'm not', I get very defensive, like 'no, I'm Australian'

I was brought up yeah grown up here, I was born here, like what gives you

the permission to say that and I found that it a bit as well like people trying to figure out

where you're from

at MTC, probably like the whitest of white places, a guy say

'oh you must be Greek' and I got really offended by that not because being Greek

is bad, but because I'm not and like why do you get to say... but you didn't say

anything to my Anglo co-worker, 'oh you must be of Irish decent'


this kind of identifying you with a stereotype not a person I

think is the thing and obviously stereotypes come out some form of truth

but I think it's been so like exaggerated and I just don't, I don't

identify with it, so I think I can see it but it's also not been how my family

have been


I've kind of had my like family was separate like extended

family was separate and mum and I, I just felt like we were Australian and I had

Anglo friends, like I kind of separated in my brain and was maybe kind of ignoring or

not really embracing my background as much but then when I did go to Paris and um

Italy, I noticed that you know noticing just even noticing things like people

having similar hair, being able to identify like commonalities in features

and things like that and kind of enjoying that and maybe even finding

like I think growing up in Australia kind of like really that idealised

Western culture, the blonde and blue-eyed like, I'd always found that really attractive

and I think it's the last, just the last few years where I've kind of tried not to be so

brainwashed and I think I quite enjoyed being in Europe and feeling like maybe

at least physically I belonged a bit more and not feeling so awkward, like I did

when I was a teenager cause I wasn't Anglo

and I think maybe now I'm

becoming a bit more excited by like cooking but yeah I think it's taken me a

while to find positive things

I wonder if I did to have a bit more of a community whether I would have embraced it a bit more

as opposed to trying to fit in

it's like the double thing, which

is why I feel like I just stepped out of Looking For Alibrandi and I think I just

watched that film recently and I texted my friend from high school and I was like

'oh my god, my life is very similar to this' and she was like 'yeah I remember thinking that when we were in year 10'

but I just like didn't want to see the similarities of having the double

kind of whammy of like being... going to this kind of, you know, private girls

school and having a single mum, not fitting in exactly in terms of cultural

background but also the nuclear family and probably wanting to... I mean obviously I can't change the family

but I can try and be more white, Anglo

 I think we actually did

have a group of girls at school that we called 'the wog group' and I just I didn't

identify with them


really bizarre

what are other ways that you feel like you do

embrace it or that make, make you feel culturally strong?

yeah food and the the language, I really love the language

panettone and the colomba at Christmas and Easter, one of those funny things and that I've introduced to

my housemates and so we end up having like five in the house and like seeing

actually other people like embracing things

where do you think Italian

Australians fit in a social political context?

I feel like Italians are very much a

part of the landscape now, I don't see it as an 'us and them'

anymore but I feel like Italian culture is very much embraced, I feel like you know every

second cafe and I mean I don't think there's discrimination now I don't I don't know I

know I've never been discriminated against, I know I've been peeved

off when people go 'oh you're a wog' or something like that or...but I don't think

I've really faced any racism in that sense

I feel like it's quite strange that as

immigrants we are very racist I found that really interesting and I think it's

this idea like well you know 'we made it work and we just fit in we didn't you

know try and push our beliefs anywhere it's it yeah it's a very strange...

it's like this mentality of like 'it's your turn now' like we've done our bit

you were saying that you like really identify with being Australian and I wonder

if there's is a space that you feel like you do belong?

maybe I sit it in-between, like where a lot of Australian... 'Australians' sit, which they don't really

identify with being Australian

I feel like my experience maybe was negative from where I was growing up

cause I just wanted to belong to this very Anglo

community and then like feeling like not... and even things like I think my

associations with like, you know, having a more prominent nose and things like that

being...seen as negatives and people box you that way

and I think that also falls into sexism as well, not being a feminine quality or whatever

a friend of mine who's a linguist or he's doing his PHD in linguistics at the moment and um he was

very much saying it's a mix of like your cultural background and then your...where

- you are and where you're growing up kind of like it it's all kind of you can't - yeah

really pinpoint what it is because it's just a mixture of factors that have come

together to create this kind of bizarre accent and that's what I guess I

kind of liked about Looking For Alibrandi as well, like there was you know

stereotypes of the women in... like my grandmother never wore black, even after

my grandfather died, but those kind of stereotypes which do exist, but you

know that Pia Miranda wasn't there going 'oh my god'

maybe because it's been attached to

things like 'Wog Boy' and that, where it kind of made...I guess, I don't know I

guess they were trying to make, you know, make it their own again but was also selling a funny idea and

then I remember the Vince Colosimo character being a real womaniser

you know you him on television normally, and the way he speaks, he just

sounds like every other Aussie yeah there's no depth, there are no layers there and

then maybe that's what I was trying to not identify with um but obviously there's a

variety of people within a culture

I wish they were more films because I

have always been intrigued about writing about my mum's background and experience

and I feel like because we've had all these waves of immigration since that

it's not relevant anymore, but I feel like it is, cause it's like kind of the

fabric of Australia though and also a lot of the perspectives are told from

men and I'm really interested in female experiences

yeah maybe I hope that those kinds of

things happening can start more conversations around that and create

more of an empathy within Italian communities I think is really

important about the experience of migrants now too

  • Instagram
bottom of page