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Video Clip Synopsis:
Toula, an Australian-born Greek wife, is a Workers’ Compensation officer. Breaking free from traditional Greek women’s roles, she desires a career and creative freedom.

2min 13sec

An Australian Greek Wife is an excerpt from the film George and Toula (10 mins), an episode of Our Multicultural Society Series 1 (11 x 10 mins), produced in 1978.

George and Toula: Born in Australia, Toula is the daughter of a Greek-born father and an Australian-born mother from a Greek background but, by her own admission, she doesn’t feel comfortable in a wholly Greek environment. As a teenager she wanted to date but was pressured to marry instead. She’s been married ten years, has no children, lives in an apartment rather than a house, and works as a workers compensation officer – lifestyle choices that she feels attract the Greek community’s disapproval. Her husband George, on the other hand, is Greek-born – a welder who enjoys the races. The two don’t have much in common, according to Toula, who feels much greater ambivalence than her husband about the traditions in which she was raised.

Our Multicultural Society Series 1: Our Multicultural Society explores Australia’s cultural diversity. The 11 documentaries in this first series explore issues around identity, community, communication, and lifestyle. They consider specific problems or challenges faced by particular individuals or groups, and look at our similarities and differences. The people featured in the progams range from new arrivals and second generation Australians to Indigenous Australians.

Our Multicultural Society Series 1 was produced by Film Australia.

Study Module

Curriculum Focus: English
Year: 9-10
Theme: Immigration & Work

Key Concepts

Immigration; Identity; Diversity; Culture

Curriculum Applicability Notes

ACT:Everyday texts – Language: Contextual understanding
NSW:(1997 Syllabus) C5 Mass media
(2003 Syllabus) Stage 5 Outcome 4
NT:R/V 5.1 – 5.3
R/V 5+.1-5+.3
Qld:Cr 6.2
SA:Texts and contexts 5.3
Tas:Communicating – Being literate, Standard 4
Vic:Reading – Texts 6.6
WA:Understanding Language
Attitudes, values and beliefs

Context / Background Information

From the 1970s, one of the ways many unions responded to the increasing number of non-English-speaking workers in industry was by appointing ethnic welfare officers.

The 1960s and 1970s also saw the second wave of the feminist movement, with many women (and men) being the first of their family to attend university and live out the new ideas of individuality and gender equality.

Many European migrants who arrived in Australia after World War 2 came from villages and farming communities. Traditionally, young girls from those villages were to become wives and mothers and they did not receive any education past primary school. Life in Australia was very different. This meant that girls automatically attended secondary school and could attend university if they chose to.

Discussion Pointers

  1. What is this video clip about?
  2. What is your impression of Toula?
  3. Toula represents a culture clash, the result of her two cultures. How is she dealing with this?
  4. What are predominant values and influences in Toula’s life — her belief in equality? Her feminism? Her relationship with George? Her Greek culture? Her Australian culture? Justify your answer.
  5. What are the costs and what are the benefits to Toula for what she is doing?

Suggested Classroom Activities

  1. Prepare a class set of questions that explore aspects of identity, the experience of life as a migrant and life in a multicultural society. Pool the class interviews and come up with a series of comments about life in Australia for a migrant. You can compare this reality with images about migration — for example on official government websites, or ethnic websites, or in a film such as Love’s Brother or Waiting for Alibrandi.
  2. Imagine that Toula is looking at this video clip today. Prepare her commentary on it. To do this you will need to decide on Toula’s situation today.

Modules That Use This Clip

English Year 9-10, SOSE/HSIE Year 9-10, SOSE/HSIE Year 11-12