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Giovanni's Tile Business Grows

Video clip synopsis – Well-paid but back-breaking sugarcane work in North Queensland provided the initial resources for Giovanni's business. He and his family went on to create a now highly- successful imported tile business.
Year of production - 1984
Duration - 1min 5sec
Tags - economy, family life, immigration, see all tags


Giovanni's Tile Business Grows

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About the Video Clip


Giovanni’s Tile Business Grows is an excerpt from the film Working (55 mins), an episode of the series The Migrant Experience (6 × 55 mins), produced in 1984.

Working: Work is one of the most significant points of interaction between migrants and the wider community. This program examines the experiences, both good and bad, of the migrant workforce in Australia over the years, with a particular emphasis on the post-war era when migration and the economy were booming.

The Migrant Experience: Drawing upon a rich variety of techniques – dramatised re-enactment, actuality, cinema verite, archival footage and others – the producers have been careful not to subjugate fact to entertaining fictions about our past, yet The Migrant Experience is richly entertaining. It is also controversial. It hotly debates the White Australia policy in the very first episode, which offers a general history of migration to Australia over 200 years. In Part Two we are given the reasons why so many people left their homelands and chose Australia as their future. How they were received (not always kindly) is the subject of Part Three. Parts Four to Six focus on the work of migrants, how their resettlement affected them and their children and the impact they had, in turn, on the Australia they now call home.

The Migrant Experience was produced by Film Australia and the Australian Institute of Multicultural Affairs.

Curriculum Focus


This digital resource can be used to achieve the following outcomes:
H.1 A student demonstrates understanding of how relationships between composer, responder, text and context shape meaning.
H.4 A student uses language relevant to the study of English.
H.6 A student interprets texts using key language patterns and structural features.
H.7 A student analyses the effect of technology on meaning.

This material is an extract. Teachers and students should consult the Board of Studies website for more information.

Background Information


After World War 2 the Australian Government brought a number of Europeans displaced by the war, knowns as DPs (Displaced Persons) to Australia. This was followed by a massive migration scheme which brought more southern, eastern and western Europeans to Australia. Most of the European migrants could not speak English.

This influx of migrants was almost a social revolution in Australia, as most previous mass migration had been focused on British people. This migration would have a major impact on the migrants’ lives, but also on Australia. The existing Australian population for the most part accepted these foreign newcomers, these 'new Australians’. Australian cultural life changed dramatically over time.

Assimilation policies of the time demanded that migrants leave their ethnic ways behind and become 'Australians’. These new Australians, like Giovanni Spada, rose to the challenge of starting life again in a new land. Giovanni and his wife raised their family here. Their children are first generation Australian Europeans with mixed cultural values.

Classroom Activities

  1. Discuss and write answers for the following questions.
    1. What is the purpose of the video clip?
    2. What do you learn about Giovanni Spada?
    3. What qualities has he shown?
    4. Why has he succeeded?
    5. How has his family been a part of that success?
    6. What is the message of this video clip about the immigrant experience?
    7. Write a 100-word summary of the video clip starting with the words, ‘This video clip is about’. Include the message, purpose and intended audience.
  2. Identify the various elements of the immigration experience and describe how the filmmaker presents them in this video clip. For example, what is the role of; family, hard work, helping other migrants?
    1. Research issues associated with current immigration and refugee experiences.
    2. Use your research to create a text presenting your point of view about a current immigration or refugee issue.

Literacy Activity: Focus= Analysing / Responding

  1. Recount the two stories told in this clip.
    1. Past (settling in Australia)
    2. Present (the new business) (2 marks)
  2. Locate and describe the images on the clip which best show:
    1. The success of Giovanni’s business
    2. The family working together in the business (3 marks)

Further Resources


Jan Sardi (director), Love’s Brother, Palace Films, Sydney, 2004 (Drama Feature)
Melina Marchetta, Looking for Alibrandi, Penguin Books, Australia,1992
Go to Immigration Museum
Go to Centre for Refugee Research
Go to Brisbane, Actionweb for Refugee Collaboration