To celebrate their 50-year milestone, Co.As.It have published a photobook by Paolo Totaro AM—Visual Legacy: Italian Australian Elders. Paolo, himself an Italian migrant, travelled to Australia for work in the 1960s. He went on to work for the Australia Council, founded the Community Arts Board and was also the foundation chairman of the New South Wales Ethnic Affairs Commission. He said of this time:
I avoided the famous and the rich, they don’t need this sort of celebration. I wanted to capture the image of the ordinary Italian-Australian experience … We are not any more new Australians, we are Australians, who showed enormous self-reliance and resilience from the very start of our arrival in this country.
In this book, he celebrates the lives of these Australians. Many of the stories highlighted are those of migrants who travelled to Australia, who made that journey that so many have made, to forge a new life for themselves and their families. They travelled to a new country where they didn’t speak the language; they bravely made their way in Australian society and created a community—a community which is evident in Leichhardt and Haberfield, and right around Australia. This book celebrates their lives. As Lorenzo Fazzini, president of Co.As.It said:
You won’t find any tall poppies in this book. These are all very humble people, but they are the images of the people who have ‘created’ the Italian-Australian community. Although some of these people are no longer with us, we continue to learn from them, respect them and thank them for paving the way.
I’m very proud to call Paolo Totaro a dear friend of mine. He is someone who has made an extraordinary contribution to his nation, Australia. With this book, he has added to the wealth of that contribution.