WALTER ANTONUCCI – ITALY
I am Walter Antonucci, from Italy and I have a son Alex, 20. I was always adventurous and I have a very positive attitude.
When I first came to Australia in 1979, I had a degree in microbiology. I couldn’t speak English so I did a crash course in English and a 1-year honours degree at UNSW.
I returned to Italy for 3 years and was involved in manufacturing detergents but I could see my life already predicted and in 1986 I returned to Australia, I needed to take a risk to give myself a chance. In Italy it is too easy to follow the community expectations. I served as an army officer, and could have followed my father into the police force or worked in a laboratory or taught at University.
When we moved to the Gold Coast I couldn’t find a job in my profession so I decided to start up a business. Initially I thought of cleaning products, but I decided cheese was more adventurous. I had theoretical experience so I returned to Italy to a cheese factory for a month to get some practical experience, I bought back some machinery from Italy and opened a factory in Nerang. The first year was very hard, but things slowly picked up, and have now we been in business for 18 years and employ 11 people. We make mozzarella, ricotta and fetta cheeses and sell them wholesale.
When I first came to Australia I could see the opportunities that everyone could take, that there is still a fair go for anyone who wants to initiate anything. In Europe I often felt negative responses, but here it is the opposite, people say “good on you”.
In Italy I came from a middle class family, and when I came here I worked as a cleaner to sustain myself. This would have been unacceptable back home, my family would rather have paid me themselves. You feel you have the freedom to take a chance, to do what you need to do. I had to prove that I had made the right choice, against my family wishes.
In the 50’s and 60’s there was major immigration to Australia from Europe, then a gap. Now there is a new movement of educated and business people coming to Australia because they are sick and tired of the rat race in Europe, where life is not so easy with all the crowding and the social changes.
In the old times when people worked hard they couldn’t see it, but now people have a chance to look around and to see that they don’t really have a lifestyle. The motive is not economic. They are coming with money and investing, and coming for the lifestyle and adventure. It is like they are reborn, the seachange.