The purposes for which the Association was formed are as follows:
- To promote a better understanding between our Association and other Associations within the Maltese Community;
- To cater for the social needs of the members;
- To provide a forum for discussion and thus enable the Association to speak for and on behalf of its members; and
- To organise and hold fund raising functions in aid of the Maltese Community Council, the Missionary Society of St Paul and any other worthwhile causes as seen fit by the Executive Committee.
The foundation of Newport Maltese Association was laid down in 1973. It was a humble beginning at the residence of our dear friends Nick and Iris Caruana of Newport, a western suburb of Melbourne Australia.
By far the largest number of Maltese families that migrated to Melbourne Australia in the 1950s and 1960s chose to settle in the western suburbs. Many of them went to live in the Newport area. In the late 60s and early 70s, a good number of them used to meet at the Sacred Heart church after Sunday Mass.
Before long, it became very clear that the need was there for them to get together and organize social gatherings and functions. These events would enable the Maltese in the area to entertain themselves and to compensate for the lack of social opportunities that then existed within the boundaries of Newport. At the same time these social events will enable them to help each other in getting accustomed to the new life in the adopted country, Australia.
Fr Victor Shields of the Missionary Society of St. Paul was at the time attached to the parish, serving the large Maltese community that had settled in Newport and the surrounding area. In his wisdom, he too saw the need for an organisation to cater for the Maltese community.
First committee formed
In November 1973, Fr Shields called on a number of prominent Maltese settlers to form a committee. The first committee under the name of Sacred Heart Maltese Committee of Newport was formed consisting of George Michael Saliba OAM (President), Vince Calleja OAM (Vice-President), Emmanuel Pace (Secretary), Fr. Victor shields (Treasurer), Nick Caruana (Public Relations Officer), and Edwin Baldacchino, Joe Deguara, Romeo Caruana, Lino Portelli, Joe Debono.
Most of the Founding Committee Members had very little experience in dealing with the establishment and running an organization, but all were eager, full of energy and possessed great determination to do what they could to help their fellow countrymen.
The newly formed committee started to meet regularly and the first task was to formulate a constitution that respected the needs and wishes of its local community.
On the 15th March 1974 the Association organised the first social activity, a Dinner Dance. With over 400 people attending, it was a huge success and provided the sort of encouragement that the Committee Members needed.
Very quickly the project gathered momentum and the committee started organising Outings, Picnics, Dances, Coach Trips, Bingo Sessions, Interstate Trips, Theatre nights, Stage Plays, Overseas Holidays and Barbecues.
The Association went from strength to strength, gaining support from the wider Maltese Community for its popular Social Functions.
These activities increased the Committee’s workload considerably and more people were required to share the burden. This resulted in the formation in 1975 of a Ladies Sub-Committee, consisting of Mrs Lillian Calleja OAM, Mrs Lena Saliba, Mrs Mary Deguara, Mrs Terri Camilleri, Mrs Stella Caruana, Mrs Rose Pace, Mrs Josephine Portelli, Mrs Iris Caruana, Mrs Inez Debono and Mrs Mary Baldacchino.
The Ladies Sub-Committee members also gave their share in other ways. Some of them held office on the main Committee. Mrs Mary Deguara, for instance, spent several years as Secretary, Mrs Lillian Calleja for many years as Social Secretary, Mrs Lena Saliba as Assistant Treasurer and Mrs Rose Pace as Assistant Secretary.
Over the years, the Committee Members who retired were replaced by new faces, such as, Mr. Vince Camilleri (current Secretary), Mr Joe Cole (current Treasurer), Mrs Olga Ellul (current Social Secretary), Mrs Lydia Cole (current Public Relations Officer), Mrs Gwen Busuttil (current Assistant Secretary), Mr Joe Ellul, Mr Maurice Spiteri, Mrs Carmen Casa, Mrs Miriam Cunningham, Mrs Carmen Spiteri, and Mr Andrew Gatt. Others, who have also served on the Committee, include Mr Joe Sacco, Mr Victor Vassallo, Mr Victor Casa, Mr James Cunningham, Mrs Tessie Buttigieg.
MCCV Affiliation and Fund Raising Efforts
In 1977, the Association received an invitation to affiliate with the Maltese Community Council of Victoria to help raise funds for a much needed Maltese Community Centre to be built in Parkville in the state of Victoria.
The Association responded positively and affiliated with the Council and is proud of the fact that, when the official launch of the Maltese Centre Building Fund campaign was inaugurated, the Association was the first one to donate a cheque for $500 towards the building fund.
From the very start, the Association was at the forefront of the fund-raising efforts and it became a driving force for the establishment of the Centre located at Parkville.
In 1978, The Association sponsored Miss Anna Vassallo in the first ever “Miss Maltese Community of Victoria Quest”, raising over $10,000 towards the “Maltese Centre Building Fund”.
Fund-raising for the Maltese Community Centre was now a top priority for the Association. The Ladies Sub-Committee contributed with outstanding results towards this, generating new ideas for raising money, such as cake stalls, soft toy making, raffles, knitted jumpers, football scarves and ravioli nights.
By November 1984 the Association donated over $100,000 for the building project.
Change of name
In 1986, the Association changed its name to Newport Maltese Association. This change of name was now more appropriate in representing its members, which by now were hailing from every corner of the state of Victoria.
Also, at the annual general meeting of the Association in the same year, changes were made to the rules in the Association’s constitution to channel the funds not only to the Maltese Community Council of Victoria and the Missionary Society of St. Paul, but also to other worthwhile organizations such as the Dar tal-Providenza (Malta) and the Royal Children’s Hospital Good Friday Appeal (Melbourne).
The Newport Maltese Association has also contributed to the Maltese community in several other ways. Members of the Association’s Committee have held positions on various Committees of the MCCV. George Saliba, held office as Vice-President of the MCCV for 16 solid years. George has been closely associated with organizing the Maltese Cultural Festival for a number of years. Vince Calleja has similarly held office of Vice-President for several years and he also held office as Social Secretary of the MCCV.
This contribution to the MCCV was well recognised in the editorial in Maltese in the MCCV’s newspaper “Il-Maltija” (March 1991). Mr Charles Camilleri, editor, wrote (translated in English):
The Newport Maltese Association is made up of a group of busy people that one cannot but admire. This Association under the wise leadership of George Saliba has been federated with the Maltese Community Council of Victoria for many years and we can safely say that it is not one of those that are members in name. Not only because this association participates vigorously in all the Council’s activities; nor because its President, George Saliba, is also the Council’s Vice-President; but also because this Association obviously has one of its main aims to be one of the most solid pillars of the Maltese Community Council of Victoria.
Record fund-raising effort
In 1990, the Association exceeded itself when it created a magnificent record. By sponsoring Miss Tania Vassallo in the Quest, the Association raised $24,144 which is the highest amount raised by any Maltese Association in a one year period for the Maltese Community Centre building project.
By 1994, the Association’s regular participation in the MCCV Annual Ball and the success of the entrants in the Beauty Quest competition together with other fund-raising activities, the Association have raised over $300,000. Such impressive records have helped to ensure the successful establishment of the Maltese Community Centre.
The Association has proved to be indispensable in helping the MCCV to achieve its goal in building the Community Centre at Parkville. It sponsored more winners than any other organization when the “Miss Maltese Community Quest” was being held to raise funds for the Centre.
The Association also funded other MCCV projects, including the refurbishing of the library (the biggest Maltese Library in the southern hemisphere) and the provision of other items, such as, overhead projectors, air-conditioners, a kitchen bar and bingo electronic boards.
Elections for the Association executive committee members are held every second year, but George Saliba was to remain President for 22 consecutive years (1973-1994) with Vince Calleja as the Vice-President over the same period. These two gentlemen were always elected unopposed, even though nominations were sought every time. Everybody seemed satisfied with their leadership of the Association.
In 1994 George Saliba relinquished his post as President because he believed that others, like Vince Calleja who had shared in the leadership for so many years should be given a chance. The two leaders then exchanged roles and remained in their offices until 2010, when Vince Calleja did not seek re-election for the Presidency and George Saliba was re-elected President, unopposed.
Seniors Group formed
In 2001, an important development for the Association was the creation of the Seniors Group. A Sub-Committee was formed under the name of Newport Maltese Association Seniors Group. The establishment of the Seniors Group gave the Association the opportunity to give back something in return to its now ageing members as a token of respect and appreciation for their generous support along the way.
The Seniors Group meets socially on a weekly basis at the Maltese Community Centre in Parkville. The Sub-Committee organise social events for the members, providing bingo, carpet bowls, billiards and providing light refreshments for all those present. Day outings are organised to various parts of the state of Victoria with a longer one in November, which is normally interstate.
In 2013 the Association celebrated its 40 years since its establishment. For its members they have been years of enjoying nothing better than helping in any way they could to create a better world for members of the Maltese community living in Australia, residents at Dar tal-Providenza in Malta and patients at the Royal Children’s Hospital in Melbourne.
These great achievements of the members have been made possible by living the motto on the Association’s banner, which reads: United We Stay.
Elections are held every two years in September/October. The last elections were held in September 2020.
Association Committee Members for 2020/21