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Video Clip Synopsis:
Well-paid but back-breaking sugarcane work in North Queensland provided the initial resources for Giovanni’s business. He and his family went on to create a now highly- successful imported tile business.

1min 5sec

Giovanni’s Tile Business Grows is an excerpt from the film Working (55 mins), an episode of the series The Migrant Experience (6 x 55 mins), produced in 1984.

Working: Work is one of the most significant points of interaction between migrants and the wider community. This program examines the experiences, both good and bad, of the migrant workforce in Australia over the years, with a particular emphasis on the post-war era when migration and the economy were booming.

The Migrant Experience: Drawing upon a rich variety of techniques - dramatised re-enactment, actuality, cinema verite, archival footage and others - the producers have been careful not to subjugate fact to entertaining fictions about our past, yet The Migrant Experience is richly entertaining. It is also controversial. It hotly debates the White Australia policy in the very first episode, which offers a general history of migration to Australia over 200 years. In Part Two we are given the reasons why so many people left their homelands and chose Australia as their future. How they were received (not always kindly) is the subject of Part Three. Parts Four to Six focus on the work of migrants, how their resettlement affected them and their children and the impact they had, in turn, on the Australia they now call home.

The Migrant Experience was produced by Film Australia and the Australian Institute of Multicultural Affairs.

Study Module

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

Key Concepts

Immigration; Generations; Economy; Family; Representation

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

After World War 2 the Australian Government brought a number of Europeans displaced by the war, known as DPs, to Australia. This was followed by a massive migration scheme which brought more southern, eastern and western Europeans to Australia. Most of the European migrants could not speak English.

This influx of migrants was almost a social revolution in Australia, as most previous mass migration had been focused on British people. This migration would have a major impact on the migrants’ lives, but also on Australia. The existing Australian population reacted and for the most part accepted these foreign newcomers, these ‘new Australians’. Australian cultural life changed dramatically over time.

Assimilation policies of the time demanded that migrants leave their ethnic ways behind, and become ‘Australians’. These new Australians, like Giovanni Spoda, rose to the challenge of starting life again in a new land. Giovanni and his wife raised their family here. Their children are second generation Australian Europeans with mixed cultural values.

Discussion Pointers

  1. What does the video clip show?
  2. What is Giovanni Spoda’s story?
  3. What qualities has he shown?
  4. Why has he succeeded?
  5. How has family been a part of that success?
  6. What is the message of this video clip about the immigrant experience?

Suggested Classroom Activities

  1. Imagine that you only had this video clip as evidence of post-war migration to Australia.
    • What would you say were the reasons for the Australian Government introducing a policy of mass migration?
    • What would you say was the response of Australians to this?
    • Would you say that it was probably successful?
    • What would you say were the key features of the Australian society and economy at this time?
    • What would you say was the nature of Australian identity?
    You can use these answers as hypotheses, and research the post-war migration program and test them.
  2. In creating your answers you are using this video clip as evidence. Is it good evidence? How would you test it?

Modules That Use This Clip

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