Language and Legacy project launch


The project Exploring the legacy of the Italian language across generations of women of Italian origin was presented on Sunday 11 February 2018 in the beautiful setting of the Migration Museum in Adelaide, South Australia, a museum that collects important documents and testimonies of emigration in South Australia.


During the event there were speeches from Mandy Paul, Director of the Migration Museum; Daniela Costa, President and Editor of Australia Donna; Dr. Roberta Ronzitti, Consul of Italy in South Australia, and the Honorable Grace Portolesi, President of the South Australian Multicultural and Ethnic Affairs Commission who officially launched the project.

Ian Gibbins was in charge of all technical aspects of the presentation.

Australia Donna and the distinguished guests from the community and the field of education greeted and congratulated the women who took part to the project.


Australia Donna Fundraiser: Castagne e Vin Brule’

Sunday, 29th April, 2018
2:00 pm to 4:00 pm

Sinclair’s Gully Winery
288 Colonial Drive, Norton Summit, SA 5136

Chestnuts and Mulled Wine plus the beautiful voice of Nicolina Barcello from sell-out performances at this year’s Fringe Event to entertain us with some favourite Italian classics.

Dress warmly as the weather could be cold. Don’t worry about rain, we have cover.

This is Australia Donna’s annual event and everyone who comes always has a fabulous time.


$28.00 / $25.00 concession per ticket

For Tickets call Vera on 0412 413416 or email Australia Donna at

Proudly sponsored by Norwood FoodlandTony and Mark’s, Newton and La Casa Del Formaggio.


Language and Legacy

Exploring the legacy of Italian language across generations of women of Italian origin

The history of migration is rich in testimonies and documentations on the cultural mediation role that women of Italian origin play in their migration journey and in putting down roots in a new land.

In this series of conversations, six first generation women, together with their daughters and granddaughters, take us on an exploration of their experiences and of the meaning inherent in sharing their deep linguistic and cultural baggage.

Australia Donna pays homage to these women and all women of Italian origin for their outstanding capacity, strength and determination to keep alive this legacy for new generations.

Click here to see more about the project.

Caruso by Aislinn Rossi

Tonight my Grandmother is dancing to the Italian station
on her radio. Tonight,
I am letting the words of il caruso sink into my throat
although I do not understand them.
I know, only distantly,
that the song is about the sea.

You see, tonight- we’ve set the TV to mute, so we don’t have to hear
the way a politician speaks on the news, about a new wave of migrants
trying to make their homes here- these days

Nonna is so thin that she’s almost translucent,
but tonight, that just means I can see the steel beneath her skin
when she smiles, gentle,
and says I hope they are well.
lasciarli essere ben.

And tonight, the way her voice trips over her vowels,
trimming her consonants down like rose bushes
is reminding me that she still has a whole other language inside of her,

the way I have longing inside of me.
The way all these new migrants have hope inside of them.

So I have her teach me lines of poetry that slip sideways
from my clumsy English speaking mouth
and I dance with her to il caruso on a tinny old radio
and let her language fill my longing.

She says that in italy, they say that to each bird his nest is beautiful, which here,
means ‘there’s no place like home.’

So tonight,
I thank God that she had the strength to cross the sea
at only seventeen-
and grow a garden in this country,
knowing that here,
is a malleable concept.

© Aislinn Rossi 2017.

Aislinn’s performance of this poem won the 2017 Summer Slam poetry competition, hosted by SpokenWord SA.

Positive Ageing Project

Everyone has their story. So too Italian women who came to Australia in the 1950’s and 1960’s. These women’s stories are very similar, and yet each one is unique.

They all made the long sea journey from Italy to Australia. They all left behind parents, siblings, friends, not knowing when or if they would ever see them again. Some came with family, some with husbands. Many came alone to a husband they had not seen in years or to a fiancé they hardly knew. Once here they all confronted a new country, a new culture and language and the imperative to adapt, survive. They all worked hard, raised families, contributed to their communities and prospered. Each woman did this in her own unique way.

In collaboration with the Office for the Ageing through the Positive Ageing Project, Australia Donna volunteers have recorded and transcribed the stories of some of these women. As part of this project the volunteers have introduced the women to computers and assisted them in learning how to access the internet, the Australia Donna website and eventually their own stories on line. In turn the women have taken to the opportunity of developing their computer skills with enthusiasm.

Now well into their eighties, these women look back on their life and the courageous journey they embarked on over fifty years ago with a positive, benign perspective. Their remarkable strength and courage shines through their narratives and the spirit of their youth lives on in their words.

Australia Donna wishes to thank the Office for the Ageing of SA Health for their financial support with this project. We also wish to thank the Coordinating Italian Committee for their continued support, Anna Sheridan, professional translator, for her valuable work, and finally, the project coordinator, Francesca Sasanelli, and volunteers from Australia Donna for their very generous contributions of time, effort and ideas to this project.

Giuliana Otmarich
Australia Donna Committee, November 2014

Click on the names below to read these women’s stories: