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Domenica Rossi OAM

Domenica Rossi developed and provided services and programmes for migrant women to improve their quality of life.

Honour Roll

Australia's identity was changed radically with the waves of migration after World War II. These migrants contributed much to Australia. They arrived here and rolled their sleeves up and started working almost immediately. They did this without hesitation and with much energy. Social welfare needs were not high on the agenda for this group of people, and so when individuals in the community started to feel the impact of separation of the family, depression, ageing and isolation there were not many places to turn.

Domenica created places for migrant women in the north of Melbourne to turn to at social clubs and community health centres. Domenica was born in Italy in 1937, and arrived in Australia in 1962 to support her husband and children. For more than twenty years she worked in her home, cooking, cleaning and rearing her children. She saw little of the world outside, rarely venturing further than the local shops. When her marriage broke down she became increasingly depressed with being housebound.

For six months she remained isolated at home and then, after finding out a Migrant Resource Centre in Reservoir was setting up a social support group for migrant women in the area she became involved, spearheading the project. At the first meeting four women attended, within months the group had a membership of 90. The group turned into a senior citizens group as its membership aged. Assisting her own generation of migrants with depression and isolation improved the health and quality of life of a generation that have never imposed on asking others for help.

Domenica was also involved in the committees of many health organisations in the North of Melbourne, including, the District Health Council, the committee of the Community Health Centre of East Preston, the committee of the Women's Health in the North group, the Reservoir Community Health Centre Establishment Committee and the Progress Association of Reservoir. Domenica also received an Order of Australia honour and a Certificate of Appreciation from the National Australia Day Council.