Economic Migration from Italy to Australia: Voices from Emilia-Romagna

By Roberto Bergami.

Published by The Humanities Collection

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Migration of humans across countries and continents is not a new phenomenon. Migration often occurs as a result of economic circumstances, where persons not satisfied with their current economic situation, seek a better life in another country. These people have been commonly referred to as economic migrants, and Australia has experienced much of its twentieth century immigration for these reasons. In the context of post World War II migration, Italians immigrated to Australia en masse between 1950 and 1971, in search of a better economic conditions and employment, as Italy was still suffering the aftermath of that war. An agreement between the Italian and Australian governments, in 1951, facilitated the migration of Italians by offering subsidies passage, either by sea or air. The majority of migrants originated from the comparatively less skilled south of Italy, with higher skilled migrants typically originating from the north.

This paper discusses some of the experiences, obtained through personal interviews with migrants from Emilia-Romagna, one of the northern regions in Italy. Although Emilia-Romagna did not contribute high numbers of emigrants to Australia, the personal accounts of this small group provides some interesting and unique insights into migration experiences. This paper firstly provides a background to the economic climate in Italy of the 1950s and 1960’s. This is followed by the demographic description of the persons interviewed and a discussion of their migration experiences. The paper concludes that cultural differences, language communication problems, strange food, and the failure to have their qualifications recognised meant that for this group of people, at least, the initial experience and exposure in Australia fell quite short of their expectations. However, in hindsight the general opinion is that the move to Australia was good in the long run.

Keywords: Migration to Australia, Italian Migration, Emilia-Romagna Migration, Migrant Assimilation, Migration Experiences

International Journal of the Humanities, Volume 8, Issue 7, pp.155-172. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1.020MB).

Dr. Roberto Bergami

Senior Lecturer, School of Economics and Finance, Faculty of Business and Law, Victoria University, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Roberto has over twenty years experience in the manufacturing industry, primarily within the pharmaceutical sector. He has held a number of roles in finance, sales, marketing, customer service and logistics, all with an international focus. Roberto’s teaching spans over 20 years with experience in Higher Education, TAFE and private education providers. A full time member of staff at Victoria University, Melbourne, Australia, since 1998, Roberto has a Master in Education and Master of Business by Research (Applied Economics) and is currently undertaking his Ph. D. He is currently a Senior Lecturer in the School of Economics and Finance and Associate Researcher of the Institute for Community, Ethnicity and Policy Alternatives. Roberto has maintained his involvement with industry through a number of peak associations where he enjoys various grades of senior level membership. In 2002 Roberto received the State of Victoria Quarantine Award for his efforts in educating students in quarantine matters. Roberto’s main areas of research interests in international trade focus on government regulations, delivery terms (Incoterms), international payment terms and market entry barriers. His other research interests include the development of communities of practice, online teaching and online communities, migration from Emilia-Romagna (Italy) to Australia and teenage/youth dialect.


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