|Country of Origin||Italy|
|Date of Birth||12/5/2007|
|Year of Arrival in Australia||1924|
|Submitted by||Frances McInerney|
Antonio Giordano was born on 12th May 1907 in Naples, Italy. He lived in Caronia, Sicily in the province of Messina. His father Salvatore was an operatic tenor and his mother Eucharis Bagli was the daughter of a naval officer of a very old patrician family from Rimini, Northern Italy.
Antonio undertook commercial studies and entered naval college in 1923 but was discharged for a lung complaint at the age of 16 years. He re-joined the merchant service and departed Italy on 17 July 1924 on the SS Sicilia, for Alexandria and in September 1924 left Port Said, Egypt on a working passage on the SS Ville de Metz bound for Fremantle, Australia.
During the Depression Antonio carried a swag, occasionally ‘jumping the rattler’ (hitching a train ride), travelling throughout Australia for over 10 years with many jobs. Antonio worked as a shop assistant, waiter, cook, ice-cream vendor and tent-hand with Wirth Bros Ltd’s circus in this time.
During the Centenary celebrations in Victoria in 1934 he entered the catering trade before settling in New South Wales. While in Sydney Antonio was employed as a teacher from March 1938 to July 1939 at St. Mary’s Cathedral College and also worked as a journalist in Pitt Street, Sydney.
After settling in New South Wales in the late 30’s Antonio began to write for Italian newspapers ‘Il Giornale’ and the ‘Italo-Australiano’.
Antonio was interned as an ‘enemy alien’ when Italy entered the war as a German ally. He was arrested at 5.00am on June 11 in 1940 and was interned at the Orange, Hay (NSW) and Loveday (SA) camps. During his internment Antonio produced newsletters for his fellow Italians as well as organising theatrical performances and other activities.
Antonio was released in 1944 however was deeply hurt by the injustice of spending ‘four years of my life from the age of 33 to that of 37 behind barbed wire in Australia’.
After the war he was co-opted by the Commonwealth Crown Solicitor as a part-time interpreter while also working at the Melville CafŽ in Grote Street, Pope Factory, Beverley, and finally as a goods clerk for the South Australian Railways at Mile End.
In 1945 Antonio married South Australian Lucy Trueman, the daughter of English migrants. In 1946 Antonio returned to Sydney with his wife and shortly after this received his naturalisation certificate.
In 1949 Antonio returned to South Australia with his wife so she could help care for her elderly mother. In 1951 he began his career as a restaurant manager, opening a place of his own called ‘Tony’s Old World’ in Hindley Street, Adelaide.
During the 1950’s Antonio, as a journalist, met with educated refugees and migrants at the Mocca Bar on the corner of Hindley and Morphett streets, which was known as ‘Little Italy’. Antonio was an ardent supporter and persistent defender of Italian traditions and culture.
Antonio’s consistent advocacy for support services for the Italian community led to his appointment as A.N.F.E.’s Coordinator in 1961.
A.N.F.E. (Associazione Nazionale Famiglie degli Emigrati) was the first organization that was independent from the Italian Consulate or Australian Government for newly arrived migrants. Antonio also campaigned for recognition of the right of Italian naturalised migrants under the title of Double Citizenship.
Antonio was a prolific writer in his time and managed to produce a number of written works between 1968 and 1974, concentrating on the topic of Italian migration to Australia which was a point of great pride to him.
He assisted with the first Italian Festival on the banks of the River Torrens (1967). He was President of the second Festival held in conjunction with the 50th Anniversary of victory in the First World War
He was a delegate on West Adelaide Council for Regional Development and Social Welfare Committee of the Good Neighbour Council of South Australia.
Antonio was a Public Relations Italian Officer for Bank of Adelaide (1965-1970) and established Italian Chamber of Commerce in South Australia (1970’s).
He received Knighthood in the Order of Merit of the Italian Republic from the Italian Government in 1975 for his work as a journalist and on behalf of Italian migrants.
Antonio was appointed a Member of the General Division of the Order of Australia for service in the field of migrant welfare (1979).
Antonio Giordano passed away on the 16th of December, 1984, but his legacy lives on through the ongoing commitment and dedication of the A.N.F.E. Organization in South Australia.