Australian Dictionary of Biography

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Giordano, Antonio (1907–1984)

by Desmond O'Connor

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 17, (MUP), 2007

Antonio Giordano (1907-1984), journalist, author and community leader, was born on 12 May 1907 at Naples, Italy, only child of Salvatore Giordano, a landowner and operatic tenor from Caronìa, Sicily, and his wife Eucharis, née Bagli, from Rimini. Having trained as a cadet in the merchant navy, Antonio worked his passage in a French steamer and disembarked at Fremantle, Western Australia, in September 1924. He travelled through all the mainland States for ten years with a swag on his back, stopping for a month or two at a time to accept any employment that he could find. A big man, he took on various labouring jobs and worked as a shop assistant, waiter, cook, ice-cream vendor, and tent hand with Wirth Bros Ltd’s circus. Along the way he had minor brushes with the law.

While unemployed in 1930 Giordano joined the Communist Party of Australia; the Italian consul-general in Sydney sent his name to Rome for inclusion in the Mussolini government’s files of anti-fascist subversives. In 1932 Giordano quit the party, sent a retraction to the consul-general and embraced fascism, possibly hoping for assistance with repatriation. Towards the end of the decade he settled in Sydney and in 1938-40 was a journalist on the pro-fascist Italo-Australian newspaper. He joined the local fascist party and took on clerical duties at the Italian Club. Interned on 15 June 1940, he was sent to Loveday camp, South Australia. He was released in February 1944 when the Commonwealth Crown Solicitor’s Office sought his services as a court interpreter and translator.

On 18 August 1945 at the Unitarian Christian Church, Adelaide, Giordano married Lucy Gwenda Beatrice Trueman, a stenographer. After the war he returned to Sydney; he was naturalised on 6 November 1946 and in 1952 moved to Adelaide. An advocate for newly arrived Italians, he promoted the establishment of an Italian cultural and social centre. In 1955 he helped to set up the Roma Amateur Sports Club for young single Italians and edited its magazine, Roma. He opened the Italian Information Service in January 1956. From 1959 he was South Australian delegate to the Italian Chamber of Commerce in Victoria, South Australia and Tasmania and was founding secretary (1970-83) of the South Australian branch. In 1961 he set up the National Association of Emigrant Families.

He was chairman (1960-62) of the Adelaide Juventus Sports and Social Club, a founding council-member (1962) of the South Australian Soccer Federation and an active member of the Good Neighbour Council. In the 1970s he was contracted to the Telephone and State Interpreter services.

As a journalist Giordano wrote for La Fiamma, Il Corriere d’Australia, Settegiorni and Soccer News, edited King Soccer and broadcast over an ethnic radio station. His many letters to the Australian press over the years gained him a reputation as a champion of minority groups. Outspoken and blunt, he was never afraid to speak his mind in defence of a cause. He wrote several pamphlets and books dealing with the Italian influence on Australian history, including Alessandro Malaspina (1973), A Dream of the Southern Seas: The Life Story of James Mario Matra (1984), and Marco Polo and After: A Brief Survey of Italian Travel and Exploration in South East Asia, New Guinea and Australia (1974).

Giordano was appointed AM in 1979. Survived by his wife, he died on 16 December 1984 at his Mile End home and was buried in Centennial Park cemetery. There were no children. In 1985 he was made posthumously an officer of the Order of Merit of the Italian Republic.

Select Bibliography

  • D. O’Connor, No Need to Be Afraid (1996)
  • Advertiser (Adelaide), 27 Aug 1955, p 4, 26 Jan 1956, p4
  • La Fiamma (Sydney), Oct 1963, `supplement’, p 55
  • series A367, item C18000/92, series ST1233/1, item N36845 and series MP14/1, item NN (National Archives of Australia)
  • Giordano papers (State Library of South Australia).

Citation details

Desmond O'Connor, 'Giordano, Antonio (1907–1984)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/giordano-antonio-12542/text22575, published first in hardcopy 2007, accessed online 28 August 2016.

This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 17, (MUP), 2007

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