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Courtesy, Mrs Cosma.

I came to Australia in 1962 from Calabria in southern Italy. I was born into a very big family and some of my older brothers and sisters came to Australia in the 1950s. The whole family was going to follow but two of my sisters married in Italy and my father didnít want to leave. However, he did tell me that I could go if I wanted to. I had never been outside Italy and thought I would like to take the risk.

I was 19 years-old and single when I arrived and I lived with my brother and sisters in the northern suburbs of Melbourne. After a few weeks I started my first job in Australia, working at night in a factory making pyjamas. I travelled a long way to get to work by bus, train, tram and finally a walk to the factory.

As a migrant you must have someone to help you when you first arrive, especially if you donít speak English. I was lucky to have my brother and sisters to help me find my way around and look for a job.

I went to night school to learn English and quickly picked up enough to understand people, do some shopping and travel on public transport. I coped quite well because I wasnít frightened of repeating words I heard, even if they were wrong.

I think it is much easier for migrants today. Everywhere they go now there are interpreters or someone who will speak their language. There are also so many different foods here now and you can find anything you want. When I first arrived we had to go to particular shops to find the food we ate at home.

I found Australia quite relaxed. Here you could do whatever you wanted and nobody took any notice. Back home it was different because there was always someone watching and it was easy to offend people.

Three years after I arrived in Australia I married an Italian man and we had two girls and a boy. Iíve only been back home once in 38 years. When my children were young my husband asked me whether I wanted to go back to Italy to see my parents or if Iíd like a better house. I said that, of course, I would love to see my parents so we saved our money and ten years after I came to Australia I returned to Italy with my three children. A couple of years after I visited Italy my father passed away so I am glad I saw him.

I am not a wealthy person and my family have had many problems over the years but we have survived. When I first arrived in Australia I never dreamt about exploring the world or getting rich. I just hoped to work hard, find a good husband, have a nice family, a good house and be happy.

I am both Italian and Australian. I donít want to give up my Italian nationality but I donít regret the 38 years Iíve spent here. Iíve spent more of my life in Australia than in Italy. It is in Australia that I believe I truly began my life, made sacrifices and where I have been most happy. My children are here and so I belong too.

Article Cat. Blended Voices
Article Ref. 163

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