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Flotta Lauro passage ticket for Mr Dino Gustin to travel on ACHILLE LAURO voyage 13, from Sydney to Messina on 29 September 1968

Date: 25 October 1967
Overall: 138 x 209 mm
Medium: Paper
Credit Line: ANMM Collection Gift from Mamma Lena and Dino Gustin Foundation
Object Name: Ticket
Object No: ANMS1021[018]

User Terms

    It is part of a collection of books, audiovisual material, artworks, photographs, broadcasting equipment and memorabilia relating to the migration, settlement and career of Italian radio broadcaster Lena Gustin (Mamma Lena) and her husband Dino Gustin in the 1950s-2000s.
    SignificanceLena Gustin pioneered the development of foreign language programming on Australian commercial radio in the late 1950s and was highly regarded as the voice of Sydney's Italian community. Her popular programs on 2SM and 2CH helped to dispel Italian migrants' isolation and facilitate their integration into Australian society, prior to the introduction of community radio and SBS in the 1970s. Lena's radio work, combined with her support of Italian welfare organisations, social, religious and sporting activities, and charitable and fundraising endeavours, earned her the nickname Mamma Lena (Mother of the Italians).
    HistoryMaria Maddalena (Lena) Morelli was born in Dezzo di Scalve, Italy on 9 July 1914. She obtained a teacher's diploma from the Ca' Foscari University of Venice and taught at schools in Salerno, Bergamo and Turin from 1937-1956.

    Maria married journalist Dino Gustin on 27 December 1940 and they had three children, two sons and a daughter. With war time deprivation costing the life of their first son, and conditions looking bleak in post-war Europe, Lena, Dino and their children Rosalba and Robert migrated to Australia on the Cogedar liner AURELIA in 1956. AURELIA had accommodation for 1,124 passengers and made four round trips per year from Italy to Australia until 1958. In 1959 it commenced a new service to Australia from Bremerhaven, West Germany. With a decline in the migrant trade to Australia in the late 1960s, AURELIA was refitted as a cruise ship, with accommodation for 470 passengers. In 1970 it was purchased by Chandris Cruises and renamed ROMANZA.

    In Sydney Lena taught Italian twice a week at the Ashfield Evening College. She also worked as a columnist for the Italian Catholic newspaper La Fiamma (The Flame), writing three columns per week: Salotto di Lena (Lena's Living Room), Lena Risponde (Lena Replies) and Di Tutto un po (A Little Bit of Everything).

    In 1957 Lena pioneered foreign language broadcasting and women's radio journalism by producing and presenting the program Ora Italiana (Italian Hour) with Dino on Sydney Catholic radio station 2SM. This was followed two years later by a daily radio program on 2CH, covering Italian News, Arrivederci Roma, Festival in Casa (Home Festival), Musichiere (The Musical Hour) and Sorella Radio (Sister Radio). The program offered advertising opportunities for Italian businesses and was one of the few media outlets through which Italian news was regularly reported.

    In 1959 Lena became president of the National Association Migrant Families (ANFE), established to assist Italian migrants in matters of housing, employment, health, finance and taxation. Lena aimed "to get each family out of the hostels and into a house as quickly as possible."

    In 1965 songwriter Nino Cavallero paid tribute to Lena by penning the song 'Mamma Lena' (Mother of the Italians). The lyrics included 'Mamma Lena, you bring hope to our hearts and lessen our sorrows and nostalgia/You bring hope that we will see Italy again some day/Mamma Lena, please talk to me again and bring me hope that tomorrow will be better than today/Your sincere voice sounds like the voice of an angel/You are my mother who keeps me company in the night.'

    Lena received numerous honours from the Italian and Australian governments, including Knight of the Italian Republic (1967), Member of the British Empire (1968), Commendatore (Dame), the highest award from the Italian Government (1999) and the Centenary Medal (2003). She died in Sydney on 21 September 2003. In 2004 the Mamma Lena Foundation was launched to continue Lena's legacy of charitable and educational work.
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