Stories in harmony

Some of the 25 students who contributed to the book, sharing their stories with Filomena Piffaretti and John Forrest Secondary College principal Denise Robinson.

STUDENTS from John Forrest Secondary College have shared their stories of migration for a book released this Harmony Week, March 15 – 21.

JFSC, which has students from around 50 countries, has been involved in Harmony Day for a few years now, and last year produced a cookbook of students’ family recipes from 15 countries.

This year Bayswater council teamed up with them to produce the Origin Stories book telling the tales of how they or their parents got to Australia, and Bayswater mayor Filomena Piffaretti shared her own family story of her mum and dad coming here from Italy and waiting two years to be reunited with their mothers. 

“As the daughter of Italian migrants, I appreciate the struggles faced by those who move overseas, and I applaud their courage and resilience,” Cr Piffaretti said.

A free digital version is at

While the boat bumped along, my father waited and prayed that he would get to Australia. The war and the killing in Iraq made it a terrible place to live and a difficult place to survive. Growing up, his life had been difficult and his level of education wasn’t very good. On the boat, my dad felt glad he was taking this risk. He didn’t know it at the time, but he was taking this dangerous journey not only for himself, but for his future family, too. Malak, born in Australia, whose dad is from Iraq

Indonesia is small and crowded, filled with noise and people. It sounds like cars honking, people bargaining and talking at once and calling for taxis. Indonesia smells like fuel, pandan, incense and durian. My mother moved to Australia because she wanted a better education and to learn English.  She also wanted to explore Australia. Once here, she missed her family and her hometown very much. She also missed the food and the people. I miss Indonesia a lot, too. I miss the food, my family, the people and the places I used to go to.
Jessica, born in Indonesia

My Dad was seven years old and my Mum was nine when they arrived in Australia from Italy. Australia was seen as the land of opportunity, so both my grandfathers (nonnos) migrated by ship in the 1950s in the hopes of a better life. They arrived in Australia without any formal qualifications and spoke very little English. They both found work and eventually saved enough money to bring their own families over. It was two years before my grandmothers (nonnas) would make the difficult month-long journey across the ocean with their children, to finally be reunited with their beloved husbands. I will always be grateful for the warm welcome my grandparents received upon migrating to Australia.
Filomena Piffaretti, born in Australia, whose parents are from Italy.

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