• NAME: Maria Maddalena Morelli Gustin born in Italy 9th July 1914 - died in Sydney 21 September 2003
  • ACADEMIC QUALIFICATIONS: Teacher's Diploma; 1938 1943 studied at the Ca'Foscari University of Venice
  • PROFESSION: 1937 Taught at the Sacred Heart College in Salerno
    1943 Taught French and Latin at the Canossian Institute at Clusone, Bergamo
    1952 1956 Primary School teacher in Turin
  • FAMILY: Married Dino Gustin on 27 December 1940. Three children; two boys (one deceased), one girl.
  • 1956 Arrived in Australia with her husband Dino, daughter Rosalba and son Robert.
  • 1956 59 Taught Italian to adult professionals twice a week at the Ashfield
    Evening College. The best student was John Fisher, a lawyer. See page 682 of Mamma Lena's book "70 Years of Memories".
  • 1956 1964 Columnist for the Italian newspaper "La Fiamma" with three columns per week: "Salotto di Lena", "Lena Risponde" and "Di Tutto un po"' (Lena's Living Room, Lena Replies, A little bit of Everything).
  • 1957 1959 Together with husband Dino, produced and presented the radio programme "Ora Italiana" (Italian Hour) on 2SM, Sydney
  • 1959 1973 Radio programmes started on radio 2CH with a slot every day: "Italian News", "Arrivederci Roma", "Festival in Casa" (Home Festival), "Musichiere" (The Musical Hour), "Sorella Radio" (Sister Radio)
  • 1959 President of the ANFE association established to assist Italian migrants
  • 1963 Major fund raiser for the Vajon disaster in Italy
  • 1965 The signature song "Mamma Lena" was launched at the Marconi Club
  • 1967 Awarded the Cross of "Cavaliere" (Knight) by the Italian Government
  • 1968 Awarded the MBE (Member of the British Empire)
  • 1968 1969 Editor and Director of the Italian Newspaper "Settegiorni"
  • 1969 Launched the booklet "Arrivederci Roma" on Mamma Lena's first 10 years of Radio Programmes on Radio station 2CH
  • 1970 Major fund raiser for the "Save Florence" campaign after the floods 1970 President of the ANFE (National Association Migrant Families) and with the appeal funds collected after the 1968 earthquake in Sicily, a kindergarten for 100 children was built
  • 1970 President of the Sorella Radio (Sister Radio) committee for the construction of a Child Care Centre
  • 1970 1980 Awarded the "Premio Italia" to deserving individuals and firms
  • 1973 1980 Italian Radio programmes from the radio station 2KY five days a week
  • 1977 The book "The Story of Mamma Lena", 110 pages, was published
  • 1978 1981 Mamma Lena is called to be part of the "NATIONAL WOMEN'S ADVISORY COUNCIL" Created by the Prime Minister Malcom Fraser
  • 1979 Awarded a Certificate of Service by the Good Neighbour Council of NSW
  • 1980 Major fund raiser for victims of the earthquake in Sicily
  • 1980 Major fund raiser for victims of the earthquake in the Friuli region of Italy
  • 1980 1984 The Italian Programmes are now transmitted from radio station 2SER.FM at the University of Technology Sydney
  • 1982 Independent candidate for the Federal seat of Lowe, Sydney
  • 19?? Major fund raiser for victims of the earthquake in Irpinia (???)
  • 1983 The Sorella Radio Child Care Centre in Fairfield is finished
  • 1984 Official opening of the Sorella Radio Child Care Centre in Fairfield
  • 1986 Inclusion in the "World Who's Who of Women"
  • 1988 The book "70 Anni di Ricordi" (70 Years of Memories) is launched at the APIA Club by the then NSW Premier Nick Grainer
  • 1988 The Museum of Italian Migration in Australia is exhibited at the APIA Club concurrent with the launch of the book "70 Years of Memories".
  • 1990 1993 President of the Ladies Committee of the APIA Club
  • 1990 Together with the Ladies Committee of the APIA Club, Mamma Lena organizes a petition to retain the teaching of the Italian
    language in Australian secondary schools
  • 1991 Peter Ciani launches his new song: "Homage to Mamma Lena"
  • 1994 Award from Fairfield Council
  • 1995 The Sorella Radio Child Care Centre founded and built by Mamma Lena changes its name to the Mamma Lena Child Care Centre
  • 1995 2000 Honorary member of the Marconi Club
  • 1995 Story of Mamma Lena by Jim Andrighetti of the Mitchell Library  State Library of NSW together with Mamma Lena's contribution to Italian Migration as part of an exhibition at the Mitchell Library State Library of NSW
  • 1996 Gold medal from the CO.AS.IT. (Italian Assistance Committee) for services to the community
  • 1996 2000 150 "Heart of Mamma Lena" medals awarded to those who have kept the Italian spirit alive
  • 1998 The Italian Community honours Mamma Lena with a Bronze Bust and presented to her for her 84th birthday
  • 1999 A CD containing songs and testimonials in her honour is published
  • 1999 Inauguration of the new wing of the Mamma Lena Child Care Centre
  • 1999 Mamma Lena is given the highest award by the Italian Government that of "Commendatore" (Dame) for services to the community
  • 2000 01 02 Various social functions as documented in the Italian and local press.
  • 2002 Celebration of 88th birthday at a function for 300 persons including three federal and state ministers. In that occasion Mamma Lena awarded the "Heart of Mamma Lena" medals to 150 of the ladies present.


  • 1967 Knight of the' Italian Republic
  • 1968 MBE from the Queen
  • 1999 Commendatore (Dame) from the Italian Government
  • Centenary Medal in 2003




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