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ML MSS 5288 Add-on 1982
MLOII 133/1-15
GR 254

Papers, 1909-1992 In Italian and English

MS., typescript, carbon typescript, duplicated typescript, photocopies, printed, newscuttings, proofs, photographs, audio tapes, gramophone record 67 boxes, 3 items; 12.00m.

Presented by Lena and Dino Gustin in 1990 and 1993

Lena Gustin, radio broadcaster, journalist and welfare worker, was the voice of Sydney's Italian community through her popular radio programs from the 1950s to the 1980s. She came to be known as Mamma Lena, a mark of the affectionate regard in which she was held by her listeners.

Maddalena (Lena) Maria Gustin was born in 1914 at Dezzo di Scalye, Bergamo, the daughter of Alberto Morelli and his wife, Caterina, nee Bettoni. She studied languages, but not English, at the University di Venezia, Ca Foscari, completed a Teacher's Diploma at the Istituto Magistrale Manzoni, Milan, and became a school teacher. In 1940 she married Dino Gustin, a journalist from Trieste. Born in 1919, Dino was the only child of Giacomo Gustin and his wife, Maria, née Bernetti. He published novellas and short stories under Dino Gusteni to affect a more Italian surname. After the war he organised and compered variety shows and concerts in northern Italy Between 1942 and 1947 Lena bore three children Alberto, her first-born who died at the age of four, Rosalba and Roberto.

Lena and her family migrated to Australia in 1956 on the Aurelia and settled at Bankstown in Sydney's south-west. Shortly after her arrival, Lena commenced work as a journalist for the Italian language press. She was a versatile columnist for La Fiaitinia, 1957-1964, and editor of the Catholic monthly, La Croce del Sid, 1957- 1958, both newspapers owned by the religious order of Capuchin Fathers at Leichhardt. In La Fiamma her advice column, `Inchiostro Simpatico, and 'II Salotto di Lena', which featured edited accounts of migrants' lives and experiences, attracted a wide readership. Her advice column continued as 'A tu per tu con Patrizia' in Gazzettino, 1963-1964, and as l'angolo di Annamaria' in the weekly, Settegiorni, 1965.-1969. From March 1968 to July 1969 she served as the first woman editor of Settegiorni.

Lena's distinguished broadcasting career began in the late 1950s on Radio 2SM's 'The Italian Hour', sponsored by the Capuchins. From 1959 to January 1973 she presented bilingual programs on Amalgamated Wireless (Australasia) Limited's flagship, 2CH, a pioneer in this area of broadcasting. Her Program Director and longtime friend was the historian, Philip Geeves (1917-1983). Lena's husband, Dino, produced her programs, devised many of the concorsi (competitions) and attracted advertisers from the lucrative market of Italian business. The Gustins were engaged under contract, drawing wages and commissions at the rate of 10% on the gross value of Italian language advertising.

Innovative programming combined with a sympathetic attention to the needs, and the active participation, of Lena's largely postwar migrant audience were the hallmarks of her ratings success and public appeal. In 1963 the Gustins launched `Sorella Radio' (Sister Radio), a program modelled on one of the same name in Italy, conducted by the legendary broadcaster, Maria Luisa Boncompagni. Initially they scripted the program for 2KY, but later incorporated it into their suite of programs on 2CH. Dedicated to welfare and charity work, funded by radio appeals, its beneficiaries included new settlers, registered charities and the Italian Catholic Federation (FCI). 'Hit Parade' introduced many listeners to the current vogue in Italian music. In 1970-1971 the Festival in Casa Contest provided a showcase of artistic talent in the Italo-Australian community. Scores of performers, including singers, musical groups and writers, entered the contest, and for some it was the platform which launched their careers. On `International Carousel', listeners received advice on various matters from the Commonwealth Bank's Migrant Information Service. In 1967 the visit by the President of Italy, Giuseppe Saragat, the first by an Italian Head of State to Australia, gave the Gustins the opportunity for closer collaboration with RAI-TV, the Italian Broadcasting Corporation. Access to its resources enabled them to transmit up-to-date news bulletins and features from Italy. In January 1970 the tenth anniversary of their `Arrivederci Roma' program was celebrated with a gala ball at the Wentworth Hotel, Sydney.

In January 1973 2CH's decision to terminate its foreign language programs precipitated the Federal Government's entry into ethnic broadcasting. Following the station's announcement, Lena convened a committee of broadcasters which unsuccessfully sought from the Government a broadcasting licence for ethnic communities under the name, Radio Australian FM International. In response to representations from groups such as Lena's, the Minister for Immigration, A.J. Grassby, set up the NSW Migrant Task Force - Broadcasting Sub-Committee to investigate the need for an ethnic broadcasting service. Lena's considerable experience was drawn upon when she served as a member of the Sub-Committee. In 1975 the Government formed the Ethnic Radio Experimental Committee to be responsible for the formulation of the program policy of Sydney 2EA and Melbourne 3EA Ethnic Broadcasting Stations. Two years later, the Government established the Special Broadcasting Service, an independent statutory authority, with the responsibility for all ethnic broadcasting in Australia. From 1977 to 1981 Lena served on the State Ethnic Broadcasting Advisory Committee (NSW), established to advise the SBS and the Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs on a range of matters directly affecting ethnic broadcasting in the state, from programming schedules to matters concerning ethnic audiences.

Lena and Dino transferred their programs to 2KY in February 1973, and from September 1980 to 1985 to the non-commercial station, 2SER-FM, where the programs were exclusively in Italian. Despite Lena's continued popularity, her successful formats of the 1960s were modified to accommodate the respective stations' programming policies.

An influential fund-raiser, Lena helped galvanise support for a series of natural disasters in Italy and Australia. Her organisational efforts benefited the victims of the Vajont Dam disaster in the Veneto region, 1963; the Florence Flood, 1966; the earthquakes in Sicily, 1968, Friuli, 1976, and southern Italy, 1980; and Cyclone Tracy in Darwin, 1974.

Much of Lena's welfare work in the 1960s was achieved in her capacity as the voluntary delegate, 1959-1967, and later President, 1967-1971, of ANFE (NSW Branch) (Associazione Nazionale Famiglie Emigranti / National Association of Emigrant Families). In 1961 she was Public Relations Officer of the Migrant Medical Centre. Following the 1967 Migration Agreement between Australia and Italy, ANFE's work burgeoned with requests for assistance regarding admissions to Australia and family reunions. In 1967 she attended the 20th ANFE Congress in Rome. Later that year during President Saragat's visit to Australia, she secured from him a donation of $10,000 towards a retirment home for migrants. This money was later given to the Scalabrinian Order for a retirement village at Austral in Sydney's outer-west, a project that was realised in 1974. In 1968 ANFE was instrumental in the success of the Sicilian Earthquake Relief Appeal. The proceeds ANFE raised were allocated for the construction of a preschool in Poggioreale, one of the worst hit areas. Within two years the preschool was opened and ANFE assisted in the resettlement of earthquake victims in Australia.

In 1972 Lena was founding President of the Sorella Radio Welfare Fund, established to raise funds for a child-care centre at Fairfield, NSW, one of Australia's most ethnically diverse municipalities. Opened in 1984, the Sorella Radio Long Day Child Care Centre is a lasting tribute to her concern for children from all backgrounds. In 1979 she organised the Multinational Mini-Festival at Sydney Town Hall, which concluded the International Year of the Child.

From 1978 to 1982 Lena was a member of the newly created National Women's Advisory Council, established to advise the Federal Government through the Minister for Home Affairs on the needs and status of women. The only migrant woman appointee, Lena brought a unique insight to the Council.

Lena's only entry into politics was when she contested unsuccessfully the 1982 Federal By-Election for Lowe as an Independent candidate. The seat, won by Michael Maher (ALP), was vacated by Sir William McMahon following his retirement from Parliament.

Rosalba and Roberto Gustin have pursued business interests in Asia. They received their secondary education at Birrong Girls High and Holy Cross College, Ryde. In 1969 Rosalba graduated BA Hons (Italian) from Sydney University. She has worked as an interpreter, and in the areas of marketing and public relations. Roberto studied Mechanical Engineering at the University of NSW. In 1982 he was knighted by the Maltese Government for developing that country's tourist trade.

In 1980 Dino's mother, Maria, came to live in Australia. She died in Sydney in 1983.

In 1989 Lena was a founding member and made Patron of the Italian regional association, Lombardi nel Mondo (Sydney). In the next year she was elected President
of the Ladies Committee of the Apia Club, Leichhardt. Honoured by the Italian Government in 1967 with the Croce di ('ai'a/iere, also awarded to Dino in 1975, Lena was appointed MBE in 1968 for her services to the community. Popular tributes to her include the songs 'Mamma Lena' by Nino Cavallaro in 1965 and `Omaggio a Mamma Lena' released in 1991 by singer-songwriter, Peter Ciani. In 1977 the Sorella Radio Welfare Fund published the anonymously authored The sully of Mamma Lena. A decade later Dino Gustin compiled the comprehensive account of her life, 70 anni di ricordi in due month 70 years of life in two comilries !icily and Australia. Lakemba, NSW T&R United (Australia) Pty Ltd.



1922-1991 A. Personal Papers
i. Correspondence and letters received Boxes 1-3(70)
ii. Miscellaneous papers Box 3(70)
iii. Printed material Box 3-4X(70)
v. Grammophone record GR 254
vi. Audio tape MLOH 133/15

1957-1969 B. Journalism

i. La Coce Del Sud Box 6(70)
ii. La Fianna
a. Readers' correspondence Boxes 6-10(70)
b. Newscuttings of columns Box 11X(70)
iii. Gazettino Box 12(70)
a. Readers' correspondence
b. Newscuttings of columns
iv. Seilegiorni Box 12(70)
a. Newscuttings of columns

1972-1981 C. Broadcasting

i. Papers re Radio Australian FM International
ii. Papers re NSW Migrant Task Force -Broadcasting Sub-Cttee
iii. Papers re Ethnic Radio Experimental
Cttee : Radio Ethnic Aust. (EREC)
iv. Papers re State Ethnic Broadcasting
Cttee (NSW)

1959-1972 D. ANFE (NSW)
Correspondence and subject files Boxes 13-14(70)


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