Nomit's role in the creation of a global network of young Italian expats

According to the website, for every one hundred Italians living in Italy, there are another seven living abroad. This same source also tells us that of the four million Italian citizens spread out across the globe, most are those that have left Italy in the last twenty years. Currently, around 45,000 Italians emigrate per year. (Photo Courtesy of Fabrizio Venturini)

In April, over 200 of these migrants were selected by COM.IT.ES (the Italian Comittee for overseas residents) and invited back to Palermo for a seminar created by the Consigliere Generale di Italiani all’Estero (the General Council of Italians Abroad or  CGIE). The objective of this initiative was to create a global network of young Italian expats and to mobilise all Italian communities abroad, while strengthening the institutions that support them.  

In the days following the event in Palermo, I spoke to one of the attendees, Fabrizio Venturini, who attended the seminar as a representative for the association NOMIT.  

NOMIT (The Italian Network of Melbourne) is a non-profit organisation that supports the growth of the Italian community in Melbourne through dialogue with other communities, and promotes contemporary Italian culture in Australia.

‘We answer questions online from Italians who are still in Italy, who haven’t left yet. They might ask questions about the work situation, about visas, or about how to get their qualifications recognised.’ Fabrizio explains.

This however, is only a small part of what NOMIT does to support the Italian community. The organisation has set up a Welcome Desk at the Italian Consulate. This is a free service that offers advice in those administrative and bureaucratic matters that can be so disorientating for the newly arrived. The Welcome Desk was born as a service for Italians in Australia but is now open to anyone who needs assistance, in the spirit of reciprocity and intercultural exchange.  

The Job Desk is another important initiative, where NOMIT seeks to provide support in the search for employment, holding workshops in CV writing, cover letters, interview techniques, and networking. They also provide assistance in finding work experience opportunities and internships.

‘From day to day, we mostly answer questions from young Italians needing specific information on things like Medicare, Visas, and how to activate a Tax File Number,’ says Venturuni, ‘But sometimes there are families. There are many different types of people that come to see us, and many people who prefer to pass by the Welcome Desk and speak to a person rather than typing something into Google.’

The administrative nightmare that immigration can be is something that is often underestimated, according to Fabrizio Venturini, who in Palermo has just had the opportunity to compare different experiences of Italian migrants throughout the world.  

On the right Fabrizio Venturini attending the Seminar in Palermo last April - Photo  Courtesy of Fabrizio Venturini

‘In Holland, for example, as a new migrant, I’d know where to go. I’d know where to vote, where to access health services. I’d have all the same rights as a Dutch person. This is very important. How is a migrant supposed to contribute to the community in a meaningful way when their rights are so limited? This is why it’s not a simple thing to find a universal solution (to the problems faced by Italian migrants). Of the 250 delegates present at the Palermo seminar, there were 250 different realities of Immigration. I can work towards finding Australian solutions, but not a universal one.’  

Communication between these communities is needed, and this is why the network created in Palermo is so important. Italian President Sergio Mattarella expressed his ‘appreciation for this initiative, whose objective is to involve young people in the communities abroad in a process of growth of knowledge and mutual collaboration between (Italy) and the various realities in which they live, while gaugeing their expectations of Italy.’

While chatting to Fabrizio Venturini, I take the opportunity to ask about what NOMIT does to connect and engage the Italian community in Melbourne. NOMIT is actually heavily involved in the organisation of cultural events, but Fabrizio insists that the culture shock experienced by migrants today has taken on a different form, and that NOMIT responds to these changed needs accordingly.  

‘More than culture shock, what we see today is administrative shock. Years ago, if a migrant came to Melbourne from, say, a tiny village in Calabria, they would experience culture shock because they didn’t understand the language, they would find everything, the food, the culture, extremely unfamiliar. Today, things are different. We are dealing with the more worldly Erasmus generation, and the problems are more practical.’

That’s not to say that administrative shock does not have emotional consequences. As a new migrant it can be hard to be articulate how you feel and what may be lacking, how you feel held back. This, according to Venturini was a common theme brought up at Palermo, particularly an issue for those representatives from counties outside of the European Union, including Switzerland.

‘People are feeling like they want to do things, they want to contribute, but they can’t easily do everything that an Australian can do.’

In the meantime, NOMIT are serving as a bridge between two very different worlds. The organisation reduces the confusion around paperwork and supports new migrants in the areas that make a real difference to expat life, while representing our community abroad, to create a Global Network of Italians around the world.

Taking the Mystery out of The Acronyms
COM.IT.ES  Italian Committee for overseas residents

NOMIT The Italian Network of Melbourne

CGIE  General Council of Italians Abroad

AIRE Italian Registry for overseas residents