ASIO and Italian ‘Persons of Interest’. A History of Sydney’s Federation of Italian Migrants and their Families (FILEF) (Connor Court, 2017) will be the topic of a discussion with its author, Gianfranco Cresciani, at the Co.As.It. Museo Italiano, 199 Faraday Street, Melbourne, on Wednesday 17 May 2017, 6.30pm (booking free here). When an organisation was an ‘ethnic’ one, drawing support, ideas and inspiration from its foreign mentor, claims of sedition, treason, subversion and of being un-Australian were levelled at it without hard evidence, justified only by the abysmal ignorance of the motivations, aspirations and actual policies pursued by the organisation. In the case of the Federation of Italian Migrants and their Families (FILEF) in Sydney, its members were spied upon by the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO), ostracised by a large part of the Italian migrant community and its media, embarrassingly acknowledged by Italian diplomatic and consular representatives, fearful of losing their jobs because of their political beliefs, demonised by the Australian Establishment as the Trojan Horse of Italian communism. After forty years of militancy, time has come to record FILEF’s journey through Australian and migrant politics, welfare, arts, education and union activities.
Gianfranco Cresciani was born in Trieste, Italy and emigrated to Australia in 1962. He worked for Electric Power Transmission Pty Ltd, the Ethnic Affairs Commission and the Ministry for the Arts of the NSW Government. In 1989 and 1994 he was a member of the Australian Delegation re-negotiating with the Italian Government the Italo-Australian Cultural Agreement. Master of Arts, First Class Honours, from the University of Sydney in 1978. Doctor of Letters, honoris causa, from the University of New South Wales in 2005. In 2004 the Italian Government awarded him the honour of Cavaliere Ufficiale dell’Ordine al Merito. Member of the Scientific Committee of the journal Altreitalie, published by Fondazione Giovanni Agnelli, Turin, Italy. He has researched the history of Italian migration to Australia since 1971, and is the author of many books, articles, exhibitions, radio and television programs and web sites in Australia and Italy on the history of Italian migration to Australia.