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This Singular Life: Episode 1

2022 Victorian Seniors Festival


Curated by Lella Cariddi OAM, "This Singular Life" comprises first person narratives by four senior Victorians whose origins and heritage speak of a different time, in a different place, but who now call Australia home.

Each story amplifies the voice of an immigrant who as a single senior continues to engage with life in a most creative and singular way.

Through this project created especially for the Victorian Senior Festival, these stories and voices can be heard and amplified. Indeed, it is how the stories of individuals who came from somewhere else can be fused into the broader history of Australia as the nation develops and changes, in an increasingly inclusive way.

Episode 1 features Joe Zaia and Mary Ryan.

Joseph Zaia was born on the island of Lipari, one of the seven Aeolian islands, off the north coast of Sicily, where the main industries were fishing and Pumice stone mines. He arrived in Australia with his parents, just before his 2nd birthday. And while through his work in the federal department of immigration, he has contributed to the shaping of the Australian multicultural landscape, his greatest regret is losing his Italian citizenship as a minor when his parents became Australian citizens.

Mary Ryan was born in Burma before it gained independence from Great Britain after the Second World War. As she was too young to understand what was happening during the political turmoil that followed independence in 1948, her few memories of Burma are happy ones. After her HSC, in 1966, Mary decided to enter the convent of The Franciscan Missionaries of Divine Motherhood, where she had the opportunity to train as a nurse. Eventually Mary left the convent, and on the suggestion of a friend, she moved to Australia in the early 1980s.

Reviewed 04 August 2022

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