Co.As.It. Italian Family History Group

Quarterly Report

3rd Quarter 2015

The Co.As.It. Italian Family History Group (IFHG) continued to provide the community with the opportunity to research, record, and celebrate Italian heritage, under the auspices of Co.As.It.

In July we held a ‘Christmas in July luncheon’, where guests enjoyed an afternoon at La Giara Restaurant in Leichhardt, being serenaded by accordionist / vocalist Alfredo Scogna.

On 26th August we presented the very wonderful Gennaro Abignano. Successful entrepreneur, one of Australia’s leading figures in the construction industry – from the late 1950’s he built a successful construction business which in 1981 was listed on the stock exchange as G Abignano Limited.

In 1986 the company changed its name to the ABIGROUP Ltd and remains one of Australia’s leading construction companies building motorways, bridges, dams, buildings & other major infrastructure works.

We had an audience of over 70 guests.

On 23 September, our featured speaker, Professor Gaetano Rando entertained an audience of over 65 guests. Born in Rome (Italy) in 1942, Professor Rando gained tertiary qualifications in Italian literature and linguistics at Australian and Italian Universities and has taught at the University of Western Australia, Griffith and Wollongong universities, the University of Auckland in New Zealand and universities in Perugia, Macerata, Florence, Lecce, Reggio Calabria and Catania in Italy.

He is a world authority on Italian-Australian studies and has published extensively on the language, literature and history of Italians in Australia.

We look forward to our very special guest on 28th October – Joe Avati, comedian, actor and producer. His parents are from Calabria, and some of his LIVE COMEDY show is performed in the Calabrese dialect.

Avati’s observational brand of comedy have earned him comparisons to Jerry Seinfeld, and in promotions he is referred to as “the Italian Seinfeld”.


His observations are drawn from the life around his Italian family, particularly his experiences growing up. The characters and traits that JOE mentions seem to be universal in Italian families, which is why audiences familiar with this cultures are able to identify with him.

The event will be filmed and is expected to be a complete sell out performance.

We also look forward to an additional guest we have secured for

25 November, Maria Venuti AM. Vivacious personality, dynamic singer, entertainer, actress, television performer and successful author. These traits have made Maria’s career highly successful and now a showbiz icon. Her life long devotion, vitality and passion for her charity work is legendary. She has been honored and decorated as a Member of the Order of Australia (AM).Some of her proudest moments was accepting the ‘Heart of Variety Award’ for her outstanding work with Variety – The Children’s Charity, being asked to be an Australia Day Ambassador, and now in her 21st year. Venuti has been bestowed with numerous Entertainment Industry Awards and was surprised and honoured with a Channel 9 one hour special of ‘This is Your Life’ in 2003, where Maria was declared a ‘National Treasure’.She is a dynamic, remarkable and passionate singer, ‘a total entertainer’, and is a dedicated charity worker.

Maria Venuti’s life motto is:‘LIVE FOR TODAY AND LET LIFE SURPRISE ME TOMORROW.’


We thank Antonio Zeccola and family of Palace Cinemas for their continued support in 2015 for this wonderful venue.

We are pleased to announce that we received a $ 3,000 grant from

Multicultural NSW ‘Celebration Grant’, and are awaiting results from our additional application to Leichhardt Council and their ‘Community Grant Program’.

Our facebook page is doing well with over 500 likes: https://www.facebook.com/ItalianFHG?ref=hl   The facebook page has proven to be an effective advertising vehicle for the Group, in addition to our website.

We gratefully thank our very active Committee members, in particular; Maria Linders, Anthony Ravisi, Antonio Luciano, Josephine Valli and a previous committee membe, Diana Manganaro, who continues to be very active helping out at our Palace Cinema events.

Dylan Prior, Unified Business Solutions, is producing some wonderful results on our website and facebook sites, and for the recent creation of a new logo that we have set in place (now the header on this report).

We also thank Jim Davis, our film and editing man, who continues to film most events for the Group, which we archive onto our website and will be a library resource.

The IFHG held a Committee meeting on 29 August and have set our AGM for 3rd December.  We look forward to an active Committee going forward in 2016.

The Italian Family History Group thank Co.As.It. for their continued support, and our sponsors; Leichhardt Council, NSW Community Relations Commission (Multicultural NSW), Palace Cinemas, Strata Choice, SPHIC health insurance consultancy, Frank Moschella and Bunna Bunno Olive Grove.

Art Phillips

Chairman, The Co.As.It. Italian Family History Group