Daniela Costa

I was born in Rapallo, in the province of Genoa in 1946.

I arrived in Australia at the beginning of the 1970s, newly wed with Marcello who had obtained a scholarship from the University of Melbourne. I instead had just received my degree in Medicine at the University of Turin. We were both enthusiastic about facing this new world!

The first years in Australia, first in Melbourne and then in Adelaide, were certainly years of discovery: a new language and culture and Australian medicine.

Going back in time, perhaps the first direct contact with the world of medicine in Australia happened right when Andrea was born in 1975 at the Royal Women’s Hospital in Melbourne. I remember that together with the emotion of becoming a mother, I found myself as a patient for the first time in a system that was still unknown to me.

I got my teeth into this world a little later, firstly when my degree was recognised and then working in a hospital as an intern. It was an extremely intense and satisfying time, principally centred on getting myself into the “mainstream” of Australian medicine.

When I would sometimes meet Italian patients or those of other cultural backgrounds, I realised how important the intercultural relationship between a doctor and her patient is to curing their illness. And so the desire to deepen studies on the rapport between health, sickness, culture and migration experience grew. I felt the need to link my work to my cultural roots and to relate my personal experience with that of many other women who had migrated.

In 1989 I so began to work in the arena of women’s health with “Women’s Health Statewide” undertaking various roles from transcultural counselling to projects based on educating, informing and training and research referenced to the analysis of mental-physical health of women of various cultures and migration experiences.

Since 1994 I look after a women’s health clinic for refugee women. This service is centred on a transcultural therapeutic model that recognises the strict rapport between mental-physical wellbeing, migration experience, the process of integration and cultural origin.

In the last two years I have undertaken research on refugee women from the Balkans the Middle East and Eastern Africa, contributing in this way to let others know about the health and social conditions of refugee women in South Australia. For this work I was awarded, on the occasion of the International Women’s Day in March 2002, the award “International Women’s Day Community Benefit Award”.

In December 2002, I was given the honour of being invited by the Premier of South Australia, Hon. Mike Rann, to be a part of the Premier’s Council for Women, a consultative body of the Government of South Australia on matters regarding the status of women.

In the context of Australian medicine, I completed my Speciality in General Practice (Fellowship of the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners) and I represented South Australia on the Women’s Health Taskforce of the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP).

My professional esperience has brought me to live Australian multiculturalism fully. Since 2000 I am a member of the Multicultural Communities Council. My youthful passion for theatre motivated me to enter the crosscultural workd of art and to be on the Board of Management of “Parallelo” (formerly known as Doppio Teatro), a performing arts company that explores cross cultural themes through pushing artistic and technological boundaries.

My participation in the seminar “Donna in emigrazione” (“Women in Migration”) held in Rome in 1997 was a significant moment for me in which to compare the diverse realities of women of Italian origin in the world.

From this was born my involvement in representational bodies such as Comites and the Consiglio Generale degli Italiani all’Estero (CGIE) both of which I am involved in since 1998.

I am in constant contact and collaborate with women of the first and new generations through the Australia Donna website, that bears witness to the continuous and vibrant presence of women of Italian origin in Australia.


November 2003