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Lucia Torenello
00:00 / 11:36

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Audio Transcript:

my grandfather, he was born in Italy and he's from Turin


and then my

grandmother was born in St. Kilda haha

but her um mum and dad, so this guy (points to photo) and his wife Josie

they they bor- they were from Sicily

oh wow

oh um Sicily and Salina or Saline

yeah, yeah

like the island next to it

oh okay

my grandparents must have met in Australia

do you know why your grandfather came to Australia?

I'm not too sure about yeah like my grand, my grandfather from Turin but I know my great-grandfather he, like obviously

- like in Sicily there's not a lot of work - yeah, absolutely

I think it was just like, you know

the dream of somewhere new

like my mum, um lived like when... she she grew up on a farm


in Box Hill haha

which sounds funny

she always talks about like chickens and riding a motorbike around

or like you know a postie around

yeah right

and she's Box Hill!

- haha - like wow

how do you connect to being Italian?

I guess I don't think about it so much

I was really aware of it when I was younger

yeah right


I was really aware... I guess what...

cause when you're like, in primary school, everyone is kind of really aware of

themselves and other people and I remember in like a classroom setting

there people would be like 'oh, you know, you're a wog' or and like

'you're a skip', kind of thing

like there was definitely recognition of people who were

well actually, it was funny cause they were calling... like they would call like

people like 'Australian'


the stereotypical like blonde hair surfer

kind of look


and then yeah, they're like 'oh yeah, you're not Australian because you're Italian

wow, really?

as early as primary school?

yeah, like kind of like, I just remember kind of like discussions around that

between like children, who probably didn't like understand at all

and I remember thinking, our education system has terrible or non-existent Indigenous education

yeah, absolutely

um I was like 'oh yeah I'm not really' like I remember longing kind of to

look like blonde hair, fair


because they were like 'the real Australians'

and I didn't really fit in


yeah and because you like...having darker features

- like brown eyes and brown hair - yeah

and hairy... I was like so self-conscious about my dark hair

like having a monobrow and yeah like hairy arms and stuff and I really

like... that's maybe that's why I wanted to be fair...have fair hair as well

like a marker that you were actually like Australian?

yeah but it was weird

because there was no...I remember, not I guess, understanding that I was born here

- so I am Australian - yeah

cause I was like 'oh my mum's family's Italian and my dad's family's Scottish


what am I?

so the way that you were identified as like a wog or not Australian was by other people?

yeah yeah

at school?

yep I remember there's that really like...I don't know like when

you're a child and you're still kind of understanding the way the world works

and like being perceptive of other people around you


that was like feeling like a bit different

how do you feel about the word wog?

I don't really use it unless like I'm making maybe making a joke


I would try probably not to use it just because I know that like people from other places

would take offence


you know?


and it is quite an offensive word to some people


best to just steer clear

what do you feel like the effects of migration have

been like on your family or on you as a person in terms of your identity?

I remember when um, when I went to South America, and there were some countries

where you just like kind of like witnessing people who... their culture was

so heavily ingrained in the way they existed for a very long time


that I was kind of like, I kind of noticed it, it was like you could feel it in a way


and I kind of feel like sometimes Australia doesn't feel that way because

I mean it's not our land


it's not like where we've come from so...


like I kind of was like... almost like it was like a weird longing for something like that


to live in a place and be a part of a culture that's like existed in that

place for a long time when

yeah yeah, absolutely

where here it's like a bit of a melting

pot of everyone, which is great, and it's not like I'm saying that it's bad or anything, but it's just like a different feeling

growing up, like what I was talking about before, is like you're living in country

that you don't have long roots in

mmhm, yeah

and trying to understand like where you fit in

gosh I'm just like thinking about how bad my education was like about how I

really did think that it was like white Australians that were natives here

and like feeling like not fitting into that and longing for that but now

I'm just like 'oh god like that was so so wrong'

wanting to conn- I feel like I've

felt like I've wanted to connect to both sides of my um identity

- mmm like Scottish and Italian? - yeah yeah yep

do you think there's a specific culture that is Italian Australian?

yeah I think so for sure, I feel like there's the people who have immigrated here have taken like...

there's definitely like like a almost like a stereotypical type culture

yeah totally

of like the old Italian grandparents cooking lots of food and um I guess like maybe people who migrated here have like

held on to those parts of their culture and really tried to enact them

I remember when I was in Europe just like having a couple

of Italian friends and realising how diverse people's lives are who actually

live in Italy... like it's not like...

oh surprise surprise

like you know, not everyone you know they...

both of them are fair they're like you know I think Italian

yeah, yep

and they like, you know, speak Italian

like you know like it's, of course, quite diverse but I feel like here, I guess

it's expected that if you're Italian, you look a certain way, you do certain things within the culture

do you feel like your relationship to culture has changed?

I feel like my perception of my own culture has changed with I guess in line

with my understanding of Australia and its immigration


like current immigration because I feel like when I was when I was younger

yeah like the same thing like trying to understand where I fit in


but then now as I'm older understanding that like Italians and

Greeks have kind of like definitely kind of settled in Australia and kind of like

assimilated in with mainstream Australia and then now like witnessing or like...

Middle-Eastern migrants coming in or African migrants coming

I guess the amount of racism that like people hold towards them


yeah I guess when I was younger I felt like a little bit of the outsider in terms of that

but now I'm like 'oh no' like I've never been systemically oppressed

yeah like I feel like the

way I perceive myself has changed with that adult understanding of like other people and their experiences as well

I guess it's like... I feel it's a combination of like, yeah new immigrants who are

perceived as like their culture being so different from


mainstream Australian culture, you know like the scare tactics around that but then there's also even like even a long term racism around people that look different


to like mainstream white Anglo-Saxons because like even if you think about the

racism that's people still have to like Asian people, like Indians or


Chinese who were here in the gold rush

- yeah, yeah - you know like?

somehow they're still perceived as like 'new migrants'

yeah, yeah exactly

and they've been here longer than like Italians and Greeks where do you think Italian Australian's fit into the current social political climate?

there's been, in society there's been

like enough kind of um assimilation or enculturation that yeah you can kind of, I don't know, live in Australia and, maybe as an adult and not feel different to others

maybe that's also because like, well I don't know, cause I'm white


I do often get asked like what my cultural background is


cause I have dark features but like I could look like anyone haha

yeah yeah

I think it's just more out of interest than I feel like there's like racism tied to that or anything

because like there is that safety or like that privilege of, you know, like systematic oppression and not from

my perception a lot of like racism, you can make your identity or like engage

in as much culture as you want

mmhm yeah you can choose... you can pick and choose it yeah

yeah yeah

and you can leave it if you want to

yeah yeah choose you're own adventure

I guess it's not even like really talked the political sphere anymore


other than like, the compar- the only thing I can think of is like when they talk about the racism of like new migrants now and how...

comparing that to like the racism

that Greeks and Italians used to face and how

that's changed now


and their like 'don't worry, like everyone will get over it soon'


I guess that is how maybe culture should be, you know, it shouldn't be tied to racism and you should be able to just pick and choose


-it's just your time now - and then we'll find new people to be racist towards

don't worry they'll be another group of people from somewhere else and we'll just do the same stuff to them and then you'll be fine

yeah yeah that's the only thing I can think of, that it's even like acknowledged I guess that is how like maybe culture

should be, you know, it shouldn't be tied to racism and you should be able to just pick and choose

- and feel comfortable wearing either hats - yeah

any hat... like how I was saying before I guess, like yeah, like from when I was younger feeling confused about if I was Australian or not and then like re-tracing both my...from where my grandparents were and then um like I

guess having that idea of not feeling like having heavy roots in this country but I guess it's a... it's like something as well the idea of race

mmm yeah

you know that was created to like essentially oppress people

absolutely yeah, and like fragment people

- and pit them against each other - yeah mmm

how I perceive my own like Italian

culture is very much about like my family, my mum's family, like a big family

lots of people, like everyone coming together


surrounded by lots of people and like feeling really full


I guess that's what I feel most tied to culturally


yeah is family

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