Her political journey began more than 10 years ago, when she decided to personally commit to supporting the growth of the Democratic Party (PD) within the Italo-Australian community.
Coordinator of the PD in our electorate until 2013, Ms Perna decided to leave the party in 2015 and end her political career.
“The PD originally represented a true moderate, progressive and reformist left,” she says without hiding her disappointment.
“It was fundamental in making the Italian party system a majority system.
“Unfortunately, this project was soon faced with a setback for which its leader Matteo Renzi was responsible; in a very brief period, Mr Renzi destroyed the party’s nature and raison d'être.”
Ms Perna’s profound dissent was evoked not only by Mr Renzi’s “misdirected and personalistic” management, but more so by the policies implemented by the PD “at the expense of the members of society that the left should represent”.
“You can see the effect that the Jobs Act, the elimination of Article 18, the introduction of ‘vouchers’ and reforms on education have had on the future of thousands of people belonging to the most vulnerable social classes,” she adds.
In Ms Perna’s opinion, the PD completely lost its sensitivity towards the poorest members of society:
“The result is high unemployment rates, the rise of families facing poverty, and job insecurity which is robbing an entire generation of young people of a prosperous future, causing them to flee.”
Ms Perna says that when the LeU was established a few months ago, she immediately identified with its leader, Pietro Grasso, whom she describes as “a symbol of respect for the institutions and of the fight against organised crime” and who, in contrast to Mr Renzi, “takes a responsible and inclusive approach and is open to dialogue and confrontation”.
“In the LeU, we believe a fairer distribution of wealth is possible, as it is possible to restore dignity to workers and aid personal development,” she adds.
As a representative for our electorate in the Chamber of Deputies, Ms Perna would draw on her experience and professionalism to enhance the status of Italians living overseas whom she considers authentic examples of Italy’s artisanal, creative and intellectual capacity, and seek to combine those fundamental rights painstakingly acquired by an entire generation of traditional immigrants with the dynamics and challenges introduced by the new arrivals.
Based on her previous involvement in study and research, Ms Perna argues that the reacquisition of citizenship is one of the main issues in the Italo-Australian community.
“Italians in Australia place high importance on Italian citizenship, as it reinforces a sense of identity and belonging to their birthplace,” she says.
Meanwhile, in committing to facilitate improved integration of new arrivals, Ms Perna believes that a reform of the Register of Italians Residing Abroad (AIRES) is crucial in “helping young people, especially those who go overseas temporarily”.
“We have thought about setting up a unique branch which would become a reference point for arrivals who are in need of reliable and useful information like, for example, the Italian Network of Melbourne (NOMIT),” she says.
“But what we have in mind would be managed by the Italian government with highly specialised, full-time staff.”
Ms Perna claims that empowering the new generation of migrants is essential, considering that “no European country has this many citizens living outside its borders”.
She believes this can be achieved through the creation of networks between the different cities in which Italians are “the bearers of deeply-rooted cultural heritage”.
Five years of absence from politics haven’t been enough extinguish Ms Perna’s burning passion.
Now that she has returned, she intends to make an even more significant contribution to society, because, as she concludes, “The end goal of any politician is to make a difference”.