Mi­grant role hon­oured

South Western Times - - Faces & Places - David Charlesworth

While it was tough for a boy aged 10 ar­riv­ing on WA’s shores in the 1950s, Tony Scaf­fidi in­sists mi­grants who paved the way had it far harder and de­serve recog­ni­tion.

The jour­ney to Aus­tralia from Si­cily in 1951 was the best thing that could have ever hap­pened to him, Tony said, and it made him ap­pre­ci­ate the sit­u­a­tion of the ear­lier mi­grants.

“We never got any as­sis­tance from any­body, no dole, no noth­ing, it made you es­pe­cially ap­pre­ci­ate the peo­ple that came be­fore us,” he said.

“The peo­ple that came be­fore me couldn’t speak English, had no school­ing and fit­ted in and con­trib­uted to the whole State,” he said.

“My sec­tion was easy be­cause the ones who came be­fore, they had the hard times.”

Ar­riv­ing with his par­ents and sis­ter, Tony at­tended school in Kirup for just over three years – af­ter four years of school­ing in Italy – be­fore head­ing out for work.

It was a hard start, Tony said, and while within a year he could speak English, it still took longer to fit in.

“You get dropped off at school and don’t speak a word of English, but you soon learn,” he said. “It was tough, but you’ve got to fit into the sys­tem and be part of it.

“You say things the wrong way round but it didn’t mat­ter.”

Tony then worked around the South West on farms, be­fore he bought his own in Don­ny­brook in 1962.

“From there, we just grew, bought another one in ’66 and ended up with 150 acres of or­chard,” he said.

“Ap­ples and pears, and ac­tu­ally, we de­vel­oped the mar­ket­ing of the Lady Wil­liams ap­ple.”

As his or­chard busi­ness grew, Tony ex­panded into prop­erty, first with a sub­di­vi­sion in Aus­tralind and later into the Bun­bury CBD.

Like those be­fore him, Tony wanted to con­trib­ute to the com­mu­nity and State that took him in. He was pres­i­dent of the Don­ny­brook school board, a State rep­re­sen­ta­tive of the WA Fruit Grow­ers As­so­ci­a­tion, direc­tor of the Don­ny­brook Coun­try Club and one of the orig­i­nal mem­bers of the Bun­bury Welling­ton Eco­nomic Al­liance.

Tony has also been a Ro­tar­ian for 38 years, first with Don­ny­brook and later with

You get dropped off at school and don’t speak a word of English, but you soon learn. Tony Scaf­fidi

Bun­bury, in­volved in many projects in­clud­ing run­ning the Don­ny­brook Ap­ple Fes­ti­val.

“It’s not what you get out of the coun­try, it’s about what you also put into it,” he said.

Tony has also been pre­sented with the high­est award in Ro­tary In­ter­na­tional – the Paul Har­ris Fel­low­ship for his ser­vice.

One project he’s proud to be a part of is the com­mit­tee work­ing to erect a me­mo­rial to the South West’s mi­grants in Queen’s Park.

The me­mo­rial will take the shape of a tree, with the trunk the first gen­er­a­tion and the branches and leaves their de­scen­dants, and has 500 plaques al­ready.

“It’s very im­por­tant with this mi­grant’s me­mo­rial that we recog­nise the ef­fort that peo­ple who came be­fore the world wars and con­trib­uted.

“It’s a trib­ute to them, the way they par­tic­i­pated, the way they con­trib­uted to the South West and to Aus­tralia.”

Pic­ture David Charlesworth

Don­ny­brook busi­ness owner and mi­grant Tony Scaf­fidi is proud to be part of a group hon­our­ing early mi­grants with a me­mo­rial.

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