Part of Warrnambool Primary School’s updated strategic plan is to create a clear and efficient way for conveying its goals and vision. A video, with a simple message told by the people who love the school – the students and staff-, has been a great tool in explaining the strategic plan to the school community.
I created this video for Warrnambool Primary School in 2015 and it has been launched on their new website in 2016.
“Communicating to parents and the wider community is something that all schools work very hard to achieve, especially to a level where parents can easily articulate what is happening in the day to day running of the school. Involving First Ladies in developing the narrative of Warrnambool Primary and to help us tell the story of our new Strategic Plan has helped us enormously in making that become a reality. Colleen’s work exceeded our expectations. She has a knack of accurately depicting our values and bringing out the best in our students. Her work certainly speaks for itself.”
-Dean Clements Ass. Principal Warrnambool Primary
I have been engaged by the Fletcher Jones ‘Stories From Our Community’ Project to create a series of short documentary stories about past Fjs employees and their memories of Fjs.
I was fortunate enough to spend some time with Gae Remme and learn about his life as an Italian who migrated to Australia in 1961 and his many years working at Fletcher Jones, Warrnambool.
Fulfilling a Dream
Born in Bitonto, Italy, Gae Remine was born to a very skilled but poor tailor. Gae left school and took up the tailor trade himself at 11 years. Together with his father they made beautiful suits sewn by hand. Gae, however, did not want to spend his life as a poor tailor and had dreams of moving to America.
“I wanted to go always to USA. That was my dream because I used to go to the movies and dream about the, the American Chevrolet, you know, big cars,” recalls Gae. “And always loved the English language, always. I used to sing some American songs, which I didn’t understand what I was singing. You know, the old Perry Como, Frank Sinatra, Frankie Laine, oh, Dean Martin, all these people here.”
Gae was 20 when he began pursuing his dream to migrate to America but at that time period immigration to go to America was closed because what they did in those days, was every five years, they closed the immigration. They let the new immigrants settle first, and then they reopen and bring the next lot in. So for Gae, America was not an option. Then he was told about Australia
“Anyway, I saw on the exchange rate in Australia. [and thought] I can send that much money to Italy. The exchange from the Australian pound to the Italian lire was [very good] then. Oh, they speak English there too. This [Australia] is the best that I can do”
So, Gae applied to migrate to Australia and was successful. The Italian Government paid part of the trip – the fare – and the Australian Government paid part of the fare. “See, I came on the Australian government invitation,” adds Gae. “[Once I started working,] I had to pay five pound a month back to the government and it was 110 pound I had to pay back. It’s five pound a month.”
Gae spent a short time at the Bonegilla Migrant Camp (North East Victoria) before hearing about the Fletcher Jones factory. In this video, Gae relays the story of when he arrived in Warrnambool for a work trial at FJs.
Gae was amongst a group of Italians at Fletcher Jones who were clever and hardworking tailors. Gae was often asked to find solutions to speeding up the manufacturing of garments, so making the garments quicker and easier to make. In this video, Gae talks in depth about the production of the FJ’s Skirt or Kilt as it is sometimes referred.
The Italians that Gae worked with at Fletcher Jones were like family to him. They worked and played together. They formed one of Warrnambool’s first soccer teams and called themselves ‘Gothic’ after a restaurant they ate at in town.
It felt very fortunate to hear Gae’s fascinating story and to learn a bit about what is was like for Italian’s migrating to Warrambool in the 1950s and 60s. I left Gae’s with my head full of great stories, some home-made wine and plenty of life (and business) advice. Here are a few of his gems:
“ You want to eat for 7 days, then you gotta’ work for 7 days”
“You gotta chop the dead wood off, you see. Otherwise, you don’t get any more fruit. You get less fruit. So now and again, you gotta prune the tree, and if a branch is not producing or not giving you enough fruit, you might as well cut it off because a new shoot will come.”
“Look, perfection, it’s a wonderful thing, but is very hard and too costly to get it.”
“You treat the customers like your lawn. What’s in your lawn? Now and again, in your lawn, there’s a bad weed. So you pluck the bad weed and put it away. So get rid of the weed. Just get rid of it so you have a nice lawn.”
First Ladies was engaged to film and edit the Tarerer “Come Back To The Land” Showcase Concert at the Lighthouse Theatre Warrnambool as part of the Aus Music Festival Warrnambool 2015.
Featuring legendary Aboriginal singer-songwriter and ARIA award winner Archie Roach who celebrated the 25th Anniversary of his epic album Charcoal Lane. Archie Roach is awarded Aus Music Festival – Warrnambool ‘Artist of the Year’ at Tarerer. Presented by his niece Tracy Roach and Patrick Donovan (Music Victoria)
The Tarerer Festival is an Indigenous and multi-cultural celebration, an invitation to gather together in the spirit of the “meeting of the clans” in the region from which Tarerer takes its name. It is a showcase of Indigenous and non-Indigenous music, film, arts, dance and cultural activities. It remains a focus for enhancing the region’s cultural identity, history and environmental significance, promoting harmony and exchange through the celebration of culture and country.