An Italian College for South West Sydney
Updated: Oct 6, 2020
The first meeting of a new Steering Committee for an Italian College in Sydney’s south west was held, via Zoom, on Saturday 25 July 2020.
The grass-root initiative aims to erect a school in the heart of Sydney's expansion area, in order to preserve, promote and broaden Italian language, heritage and culture and help shape future generations of community leaders. Marco Testa, the convenor of the meeting, stated that “a committee of ideas is the first step in this wonderful and ambitious project. We intend to build something tangible for Italians in the South West and to help bring up new generations of Italo-australians, through quality and innovative education.”
“The Italian community needs a meeting point for families to continue nurturing a stable network, hold together and have their voice heard. This can be best achieved through the power of education.”
The members of the Steering Committee are: Giovanni Albanese (Media Producer), Maurizio Aloisi (ComItEs NSW), Sebastian Busa (Solicitor), Gianna Di Genua (Teacher), Emanuele Esposito (Entrepreneur), Bernadine Fantini (Teacher), Matthew Frijo (Teacher), Louisa Giuntoli (Government Senior Officer), Maria Laguzza (Teacher), Victoria Meduri (Teacher), John Peter Natoli (Accountant), Joseph Nesci (Business Software Specialist), Dean Pefani (Medical Practitioner), Lucy Pelosi (Teacher), Daniel Pollicina (Tradesman), Gianpaolo Romano (Entrepreneur), Lorenzo Rositano (Artistic Director), Robert Ruggeri (Retired Principal), Fr. Daniele Russo (Catholic Priest), Marco Testa (Teacher).
Though Italians in Australia are a great example of integration, according to the latest ABS statistics, they are set to lose their language and heritage at a rate faster than any other ethnic group. “We are at a turning point,” said Maria Laguzza, “if not now, then when? As a mother sending her child to school every morning, I really feel the need for an Italian school is able to meet the expectations and demands of second and third generation italo-australians, who do not have such an option in the local area.” The 2021 census data will highlight that the average first-generation Italian migrant is over 70 years of age and there is limited language passing on to their offspring.
The Steering Committee brings together parents, educators and professionals, with a genuine interest in the growth, certainty and prosperity of our community and its heritage into the future. Sebastian Busa noted that, “the Italian community needs a meeting point for families to continue nurturing a stable network, hold together and have their voice heard. This can be best achieved through the power of education. Other ethnic communities have done this and they have been very successful.” Daniel also added that “Italians are the biggest non-English speaking western ethnic group in Australia. There are 1 million of us in Australia, yet we have not invested in education. It is about time this occurs and the proposal of an italian college in the South West is the best response to a real need.”
Robert Ruggeri, a former primary school principal, highlighted that “this is more than a K-12 school offering italian as a language. The core essence being bilingualism, a school open to everyone.” The committee welcomed Rositano’s proposal of a “school of excellence, where history, culture and the arts could flourish, where students could be taught in ways that go beyond the traditional classroom.” Aloisi also added that “Italian is not limited to language, hence the school will facilitate a holistic learning curriculum, applicable to the lives of individuals and families in the italian-australian community.”
Lucy Pelosi spoke of “a college that can be accessed by families beyond the south west and is therefore centred around key infrastructure and reachable from other areas of Sydney.” The area is home to the biggest infrastructure hub, including major motorways, new train and tram stations and the Nancy-Bird Walton International Airport, to be opened in 2026. Matthew Frijo offered the option of a “Liberal Arts focus and the International Baccalaureate, in order to foster a more identity-immersed pedagogical model.”
The committee has set up a social media and marketing campaign. “A Facebook page and a community survey will build up a buzz and an interest in this project,” said Giovanni Albanese. The desired input from the community seeks to more deeply understand the needs and the wants of the local context and circulate potential ideas for branding the school in a successful manner. Contacts will also be established with local italian businesses and a wealth of successful entrepreneurs actively working across Sydney.
The Steering Committee will meet again in August to consider a business plan, corporate and NESA registration requirements and survey a proposed building site. “We are committed to working together with local representatives, - concluded Testa - especially those of Italian background, as well as associations and stakeholders to bring about a response that favours the real needs of local families in Sydney’s South West and we intend to do so in a spirit of sincere collaboration, clarity and respect.”