The Family Man

Rossi was only 18 when he arrived in Australia in 1964.
Image: Allan C. Green
Source: State Library of Victoria

Rossi was only 18 when he arrived in Australia in 1964 on the Achille Lauro, fleeing poverty in Italy.

He worked hard, first as a bricklayer and later driving semi-trailers. After marrying an Italian woman and having two sons, life seemed promising. But at 33 years old, his wife was diagnosed with schizophrenia. Worse was to come: when his youngest son reached 24, he was also diagnosed as schizophrenic. A huge and endless burden of care fell upon Rossi, with little support from extended family.

Rossi is honest about his feelings: ‘It was very difficult to accept my situation. I felt cheated by life. If I could give advice to someone in a similar situation, I would say that they should run away. I wanted to run away, leave everything behind, but I didn’t because I am a family man. The only things that have helped me to continue to face my situation are the support from case management professionals, attending a support group and having one whole day a week to do something for myself.’