||Mamma Lena was born in 1914. She was orphaned of
her mother by the age of 3 and was orphaned of her father by the age of 8.
In 1941 she married the love of her life – Dino Gustin. In 1956 the Gustin
family migrated to Australia.
During her life she was a teacher, a mother,
a hotel administrator, a journalist, a radio announcer and also gave Dino a
hand in various theatrical events.
In 1957, Mrs Lena Gustin began broadcasting an Italian radio program that
featured Italian news, music, translations of Australian news and sport. She
received on average over 2000 letters a week, some of which were simply
addressed to "Lena Gustin" or the name of the program "Arrivederci Roma" -
somehow they would still reach her. By 1965, Mamma Lena worked with RAI to
bring a collaboration of radio programs between Rome and Sydney.
Early migrants will remember tuning in religiously to her Radio Program to
hear news about Italy, to share their problems and fears. Many of these
people had left home quiet young in search of a new life in Australia; often
they were alone with no family support structure. Lena was a friend, a
counsellor, a confident and an inspiration to many.She helped them to better
understand the Australian laws and customs, offering the support and
guidance needed to establish themselves – to fit in this new country that
was very different to the home they had left behind.As this group of
migrants made sacrifices, worked hard, combated loneliness and language
problems Lena was there to comfort them. Hence she became their Mamma –
In 1967 she was knighted by the Italian government with the second highest
honour "The Cross of the Cavalier", and in 1968 the Queen honoured her with
an MBE (Member of the British Empire) for the assistance she gave to Italian
In 1972 she was a member of the sub-committee of the NSW Migrant Task Force
that was set up to investigate the need for an ethnic broadcasting service.
A paper was presented in 1974 to the Public Radio Broadcasting conference
reporting "the only way in which ethnic groups could expect to have a radio
voice would be through the establishment of broadcasting stations devoted
solely to ethnic broadcasting'.
She was a member of the National Women's Advisory Council that looked at
issues relating to family law, social security, discrimination and
childcare. She was a journalist, writing regular columns in "La Fiamma" and
was the editor of the newspaper `Settegiorni'. Later she established the
Mamma Lena Child Care Centre in Fairfield.
The Mamma Lena Foundation was established to continue in the spirit of the
work she started in supporting the community. The foundation has an award
program for recognition of community members supporting the wider community
in the categories of culture and generosity. Movimento FM are proud to have
been recognised by the Mamma Lena Foundation in 2002 with the Premio Della
Lena Gustin – our Mamma Lena – it was our privilege to know you and we thank
you. For supporting our parents and grandparents. For your generosity to
those in our community. For your contribution to our country. For the
wonderful society we live in where we can proudly enjoy our bi-cultural
Just as you loved us with your big warm heart - we love you.