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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: 9-10
Strand: Time, change and continuity
Theme: Immigration & Work

Key Concepts

Immigration; Generations; Economy; Family; Representation

Curriculum Applicability Notes

ACT:Time, continuity and change, High school band
NSW:History, Stage 5, Topic 8
NT:Social systems and structures — Time, continuity and change Band 5, SOC 5.1
Qld:History Years 9 and 10, Time, continuity and change Level 6, TCC6.1
SA:Time, continuity and change, Standard 5
Tas:Social responsibility — Understanding the past and creating preferred futures
Vic:History Level 6, 6.2
WA:Time, continuity and change — Early adolescence

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.

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?
  7. What are some of the problems you imagine might face children who live with mixed cultural values?

Suggested Classroom Activities

  1. Prepare a set of questions on issues and aspects of migration raised in this video clip.
  2. Then interview a number of migrants who came to Australia from the 1950s on. Compare the representation of migration in this video clip to their stories. Discuss the similarities and differences.

Modules That Use This Clip

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