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Grollo Ruzzene Fndtn

I.A.I. Papers 2006

La Trobe University, Melbourne

THE BOOK:  The Italian Australian Institute (I.A.I.) is a non-profit organisation operating under the auspices of the Grollo-Ruzzene Foundation in partnership with La Trobe University and with the support of community organisations such as the Associazione Nazionale Alpini (an organisation of Italian ex-servicemen and their families).

Its aims are to encourage and support study and research into all areas - historical, cultural, social, political - of the Italian presence in Australia.

The Italian Australian Institute (I.A.I.) in its present form and programs was founded on the basis of the recommendations emerging from the Congress "In search of the Italian Australian into the New Millennium" held in Melbourne from the 24th to the 26th May 2000.

The premises of the I.A.I. are on the campus of the La Trobe University, which has a long history of involvement with Italian studies and boasts a strong tradition of teaching Italian language and culture as well as research into all aspects of the two hundred year Italian presence in Australia.

In order to implement its mission as fully as possible, the Institute also actively seeks partnerships with the Victorian Government and other tertiary institutions in Victoria, throughout the rest of Australia, and overseas.

The Italian Australian Institute is also interested in enhancing the relationship between Italy and Australia, especially in terms of the younger generations.

One of the fundamental aims of the Institute is to motivate, encourage and offer increasing support to young scholars in all research endeavours pertaining to the field of Italian studies in Australia.

It does this by awarding scholarships to research students specialising in these fields, by organising conferences and seminars, and by publishing and distributing the results of past and present research.

The Institute and the La Trobe University are already discussing the option of increasing the number and the value of scholarships and we are confident that the Victorian Government Ministry for Education and Ethnic Affairs will be happy to cooperate in this enterprise.

The I.A.I. operates as a custodian for the Italian heritage of Australia by collecting and preserving any material which bears witness to Italian culture in this country, so that it will remain accessible for future generations in particular those interested in consulting it for research purposes.

The I.A.I. holds an extensive library covering all aspects of Italian immigration to Australia and the rest of the world.  It contains thousands of volumes and documents, with sufficient scope to allow it to continue in its mission to collect any archives, books and documents which the Italian community and other organisations may intend to donate.  Otherwise, these risk being lost or destroyed, as has been happening all too frequently in the recent past.

The Institute has already received on of the largest collections of books and papers relating to the Italian presence in Australia, donated by the Melbourne and Sydney chapters of the Scalabrinian Brothers.  This collection documents over half a century of selfless commitment within the varied and dynamic world of immigration and constitutes an indispensable tool both for academic researchers and social workers.

In the state of Victoria alone there are more than three hundred regional social clubs, professional associations, returned soldiers associations etc., of which only about ten have their own premises.

A further aim of the I.A.I. is to act as a magnet for these Organisations, providing on request a place for their committees to meet, as well as storage for documents pertaining to their activities, if for various reasons they cannot do this on their own premises.

The main office of the Institute is located in a vast complex of buildings and gardens all protected by the National Trust.  The wide open spaces and the availability of a large theatre allow hosting of both social and recreational activities.

Some of the other buildings close to the I.A.I. premises are already housing the Centre for Hellenic Studies and it is anticipated that more research Institutes will be set up here in the future.

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