Franca Arena was born in Genoa – Italy.
She immigrated to Australia in 1959.
She worked as a journalist with the Italian newspaper La Fiamma
and as a producer/broadcaster in Italian with stations 2SM, 2CH
She became active in Ethnic Affairs and Women’s Affairs and was appointed to several Federal and State Government Advisory bodies.
She was one of the founders of the Ethnic Communities Council of New South Wales and of S.B.S. (Special Broadcasting Services)
In 1977 she won a Churchill Fellowship to study overseas the integration of minority groups into the host society.
In 1981 she received an Order of Australia for her services to the ethnic communities. In 1990 she received l’Onorificenza di Commendatore della Repubblica Italiana (Knight Commander of the Italian Republic) from the Italian Government.
In 1981 she was elected to the New South Wales Parliament, the first woman of ethnic (Italian) background ever to be elected to an Australia Parliament.
In 1991 she was one of the founders of the Australian Republican Movement.
She became a strong advocate for children’s rights and became involved in a strong anti-paedophilia campaign.
In 1997 she resigned from the Labor Party of which she had been a member for 25 years and stood unsuccessfully for election in 1999 after forming the Franca Arena Child Safety Alliance.
Since her retirement Franca has written her autobiography which was published in 2002 “Franca – My story”
She is involved in various charitable organisations and is working as a volunteer telephone Counsellor at Lifeline.
She is the founding President of the National Italian-Australian Women’s Association which in 2005 celebrated its 20th anniversary.
In 2004 she was given the CITY OF GENOA AWARD, (LIGURE ILLUSTRE) as an illustrious former citizen who has honoured the name of Genoa around the world.
Franca Arena has taken part in many broadcasts and telecasts, has written a large number of papers and articles and given many public speeches and lectures in the areas of Immigration and Ethnic Affairs, Women’s Affairs, Education, Republicanism and the Protection of children.