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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: SOSE/HSIE
Year: 11-12
Strand: Time, change and continuity
Theme: Immigration & Work

Key Concepts

Immigration; Identity; Diversity; Culture

Curriculum Applicability Notes

ACT:Past; Sources; Processes
NT:History Stage 2
Qld:Senior History Unit 8 Modern Australia
SA:History Stage 2
Tas:Senior Australian History — national identity
Vic:Australian history Unit 3 — Colony to Nation
WA:Year 11 Australian Studies — Australian identity

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. Toula also gives us a glimpse of Australia’s immigration policy — why are her skills needed? Why are there so many Greek-speakers in the factory?
  5. There are different philosophies of immigration — assimilation or multiculturalism. Which philosophy does Toula represent?
  6. Should migrants adapt and be forced to accept certain core standards and values?
  7. What are the consequences for society?
  8. What are the costs and what are the benefits to Toula for what she is doing?
  9. How is diversity a strength? Is it a weakness in any way?
  10. Is Toula trying to change the system, or work within it?

Suggested Classroom Activities

  1. Research the statistics on the main countries of origin of immigrants to Australia at each census since 1954. Describe the changes and continuities in the top 10 source countries for each census. Suggest reasons to explain that pattern. What impact would this have had on Australian identity?

Modules That Use This Clip

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