Elda Vaccari

Elda Vaccari made a significant contribution to the recognition and development of Italian culture in Australia.

Honour Roll

Elda Vaccari came to Australia (as Elda Nicoletti) in the late 1930s as an Italian-language teacher. In the post-war period she was involved with a variety of philanthropic work for the Italian community. In 1939, Elda was a teacher of Italian in Catholic schools.

This led to the introduction of Italian in primary schools in Melbourne. She then became an honorary interpreter in Melbourne's public hospitals for Italian internees and prisoners of war from 1940-45. In 1966, she was instrumental in establishing the social welfare organisation, Comitato Assistenza Italiana (CoAsIt), in Carlton.

She became the first President of the organisation for 12 years. It was the first ethnic welfare organisation to receive Australian government funding. She was also co-trustee of the charitable organisation known as The Gualtiero Vaccari Foundation (GVF) which was established by Elda's late husband in 1971.

She was actively involved in all grants and aspects of the Foundation. In 1980, she was made Commendatore all'Ordine della Republica Italiana by Italian Government, an honour never before bestowed on a woman resident of Australia. In 1981, she was instrumental in the Foundation's decision to endow the chair of Italian Studies at LaTrobe University, Melbourne. In 1983, the Foundation commissioned Australia's first general social history of Italians, Buongiorno Australia (1987).

Mr Vaccari stated that it was his desire that special consideration be given by the Trustees to the establishment or support of any authorised charity which has as its primary object or as one of its primary objects the benefit of the Italian community in the State of Victoria. Over the years, GVF has provided assistance and made a number of substantial grants for charitable purposes.

These include in 1969-71 the founding of CoAsIt and the grant for the Italian elderly through the the Italian Community Service Fund. Grants have also been made towards the acquisition by the National Gallery of Victoria and the LaTrobe University of important examples of Italian art. From 1993, GVF provided a grant to Scotch College Language Centre for the teaching of the Italian language and culture at Scotch College, a leading educational establishment in Victoria. The Centre is available to the public.