Silvana Tsipiras: Our immigration stories are too important to forget

Silvana Tsipiras (nee Molinaro) is a first generation Australian. Her parents, Angelo and Marrietta migrated to Australia from Catanzaro, Calabria in the early 1960’s.

Like many migrants, they wanted a better life for their children and in doing so, they left their homeland and families. They travelled by ship for approximately 30 days and settled in Melbourne, Australia.

“My parents travelled on the SS Lloyd Triestino Guglielmo Marconi and they settled in Northcote with other family members,” she tells Neos Kosmos.

“My father migrated in 1963 and my mother followed with my four siblings in 1965. I was born here in 1969.”

Silvana’s in-laws’ story followed a similar trajectory. Another two immigrants, this time from the outskirts of Kalamata, Greece, left their homeland and found a new life in Fitzroy, opening a milk bar, around the same time.

“I have collected stories from lots of migrants from all diverse backgrounds. I believe that these stories are too important to forget. Many migrants travelled here in search for a better life for themselves and their family. They left behind family members, friends and their home. They had such courage!,” she stresses.

Silvana’s Greek-Italian children have a two-generation separation from the identity of the immigrant, like many Australians, but their mum is determined to keep the memories of those ancestral journeys alive.

Silvana Tsipiras (nee Molinaro). Photo: Supplied

“I am in the process of writing a book about immigrants who left their country and settled in Australia,” Silvana says. “I am hoping to receive as many stories as possible. Once my book is completed, it will be published.”

The book, Silvana tells Neos Kosmos, will be dedicated to her parents, Angelo and Marrietta Molinaro. Her only regret is that they are not alive to read it.

“Both my parents have passed away and many of the older generation are slowly passing away. I want this generation to know and understand the sacrifices that their nonna, nonno, yiayia, papou and so on, made.

“Like my parents, all those who migrated to Australia helped build this country to what it is today. They introduced new traditions, customs, food etc. They have made such an impact on this country.”

In her book, Silvana is wanting to record memories and stories of separation. Honour those that were left behind as well as those who left their homes as well as the reasons behind the decision.

“Many of us know the popular migrants such as Franco Cozzo and Bruno Grollo. However we won’t know about the family who owned a local milk bar and served their community, or the family who owned the local fish ‘n’ chip shop, the taverna, or the family who owned a pasticceria. These people came here not knowing the language and faced racism but still made a difference.

That’s my reason for wanting to write this book. In memory of all the migrants. Our ancestors.”


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