Following a prayer led by Fr Burdian, proceedings started with an acknowledgement of the traditional Aboriginal owners of the land, on which the centre is built, and the playing of the national anthems of Malta and Australia.
On 21 July 2018 the Maltese Community Council of Victoria celebrated the 60th anniversary since its formation in 1958 with a reception attended by a large gathering and held at the Maltese Community Centre in Parkville.
Among those present were the Consul General of Malta for Victoria, Ms Joanna Pisani; MSSP Provincial in Australia, Fr Ivano Burdian mssp; MCCV Chaplain, Fr Edwin Agius mssp; Immediate Past Chair of the Ethnic Communities Council of Victoria, Mr Eddie Micallef; members of the religious; present and past MCCV presidents and members of the MCCV Executive Committee; and present and past presidents and committee members of the Maltese MCCV-affiliated associations. MC for the evening was Dr Edwin Borg-Manché.
The evening’s proceedings were presented in two parts, the first being the celebration of the MCCV’s 60th Anniversary, and the second, the presentation of the Annual MCCV Community Awards for 2017.
In his address, MCCV President Victor Borg said that it was a great day for the Maltese community, the MCCV and the Missionary Society of St Paul.
“Who would have thought that an organisation that was formed in 1958 would still be going today and gaining much strength, as the MCCV continues to provide services to the people, who have needed help within the Maltese community,” he said.
“Today we all stand proud to recognise our achievements over the last sixty years. It has never been easy, but we always trusted in God to give us the strength, the capacity and the intelligence to go on to meet the aims of the founders of the MCCV,” Mr Borg said.
Mr Borg’s address included a slide presentation, showing some of the main highlights of the history of the organisation. He paid tribute to various living and deceased members and leaders of the Maltese community for their efforts and their significant contribution to the well-being of the community. The presentation included photos of the old Community Centre, its demolition, the construction of the new Centre and its formal opening in 1983, as well as photos of members of the community who participated in fundraising activities.
Mr Borg said that the Maltese community is held in high regard by the Australian federal and Victorian state governments and the MCCV maintains a close relationship with Malta’s High Commissioner in Canberra and the Consul General of Malta in Melbourne.
Mr Borg spoke about the close relationships that the MCCV maintains with other ethnic organisations, including the Ethnic Communities Council of Victoria (ECCV). Over the years, four members of the Maltese community were elected to lead that organisation as Chair of the ECCV, namely, the late Mr Tony Bonnici, Mr Victor Borg, Professor Maurice Cauchi, and Mr Eddie Micallef.
Mr Borg said that, over many years, the MCCV voiced a need for the Maltese living overseas to have a closer relationship with the Maltese living in Malta by having the relationship between the Maltese diaspora and the government raised to a higher level. In 2011 the Maltese Parliament unanimously passed a law to establish the Council for Maltese Living Abroad, which held its inaugural meeting in Malta in September 2012. The MCCV nominees, Professor Maurice Cauchi and Dr Edwin Borg-Manché, were appointed members of the Council that year and they have just completed their second term of three years last month.
Speaking about the MCCV activities over the years, Mr Borg said that an integral part of the activities has been its advocacy and the lobbying of governments on behalf of the Maltese community in Victoria. This involves writing up submissions, collaborating with other organisations to submit joint submissions, attendances at various consultative sessions and attending and presenting papers at conventions and conferences in Malta. The MCCV has also been represented on the Ethnic Affairs Commission, the Police Ethnic Affairs Advisory Committee, the Immigration Review Tribunal and other important bodies. This involvement of the MCCV has greatly helped the Maltese community in gaining a high status within the wider Australian community.
Mr Borg said that the MCCV has been successful in obtaining several grants from the federal and state governments for the benefit of the Maltese community. These have been used for maintaining and upgrading the Maltese Community Centre premises at Parkville and other premises at Sunshine. Other grants were obtained for the teaching of the Maltese language, home and aged care facilities visitation service and Planned Activity Group initiatives. The MCCV co-funded the various projects on a fifty-fifty basis with the government grants.
Mr Borg then spoke about the MCCV’s welfare program. The Planned Activity Group holds five sessions every week, for which senior members of the community are picked up from their own homes to be driven to the MCCV premises in Parkville and Sunshine. There they meet and converse with others in their group and are provided with entertainment, lunch and other refreshments. There is a Carers Group for those who look after a disabled child or partner, or some other member of their family, meeting at Sunshine on a monthly basis to network among themselves and support each other. There is also a dementia specific group, known as ‘Memory Lane Café’, which is run in close collaboration with Alzheimer’s Australia and the City of Brimbank and involves interaction with members of other ethnic community groups.
The MCCV has the largest library of Maltese books outside of Malta that includes a mobile library service delivered as part of the home visitation service. The MCCV also runs weekly Maltese language classes every Thursday.
Mr Borg then referred to the great work that affiliated associations carry out, such as, the Maltese Historical Association and the Maltese Literature Group in the area of Maltese culture, history and language, and thanked them for their efforts. He also thanked the other associations, such as, Newport Maltese Association, Reskeon Maltese Association and many others, for providing valuable assistance to the MCCV over the years.
Turning to the main achievements of the MCCV in its 60 years of existence, Mr Borg identified its longstanding service to the community as its greatest achievement. “It is hard to calculate how many people received assistance from the Maltese Community Centre over the 60 years,” he said.
Another achievement that Mr Borg highlighted was the construction of the Maltese Community Centre in Parkville, which was opened in November 1983. “Its construction was a truly community effort which provided the Maltese community with a home and a future,” he said.
The MCCV has since purchased premises in Sunshine, a suburb in the west of Melbourne, where many Maltese reside. These premises are used to provide welfare services to them.
Mr Borg then spoke about the strong partnership that the MCCV has with the Missionary Society of St Paul. He said that the MCCV is extremely grateful to the MSSP for allowing it to build the Centre on their land and enable the MCCV to provide its services to the community from there. He said that he did not know of any other religious order that has given so much to so many. MSSP priests, who first arrived in Australia in 1948 to carry out missionary work among the Maltese migrants, have given time, effort, leadership and guidance to the whole Maltese community during the past 70 years. They continue to work with the MCCV and provide support in the delivery of services to the community.
Regarding the needs of the community, Mr Borg said that these needs are always changing and the MCCV works closely with the MSSP priests to monitor these needs. He said that there is a large number of Maltese, not just retirees, but also people in the 80s and 90s, who, were it not for the services that the MCCV and MSSP provide, would not live the final years of their life secure, safe and happy.
Mr Borg acknowledged the important contribution of various groups in the community, particularly the Maltese diocesan priests and religious sisters, who have made a great impact on the community. He also thanked the members of the Ladies Auxiliary, who every Tuesday provide their company to women advanced in years and from time to time assist the MCCV financially.
Mr Borg made an appeal for more members of the younger generation to take over the responsibility to help those of their own background who are in need. Many of the younger generation are high achievers and are now leaders in many walks of life. He thanked their parents, who, while they did not have a chance themselves to achieve high educational qualifications, have insisted on their children having every opportunity to advance, so that one day they are able to take on the role of leadership in the community.
Mr Borg thanked the members of the MCCV Executive, past and present, for their work, efforts and support over the years. He also thanked all the volunteers, without whose assistance the MCCV could not deliver its welfare services. He encouraged others to join the volunteers’ group, as more volunteers are required to help the MCCV keep up with demand for its services.
Mr Borg thanked the affiliated associations especially for taking the responsibility for looking after particular sections of the community. He alsothanked the MCCV staff for their work, honesty and support.
Mr Borg ended his address by thanking the many great benefactors of the MCCV. He said that some of them stand out in his mind, such as, the late Alex Grech, then Manager at Singapore Airlines, who showered the MCCV with gifts that were used as prizes to raise funds for the building of the Maltese Centre. Another benefactor was Gerry Calleja, who was at the forefront at the annual fête, donating three pigs from his farm every year to raise funds for the same cause. Nicholas Caruana was another benefactor who helped the MCCV in managing some of its finances.
Consul General Ms Joanna Pisani then addressed the gathering. She congratulated the MCCV on its 60th anniversary and its collaboration with the MSSP, without which the Maltese Centre would not have been possible.
Ms Pisani applauded the MCCV for the welfare services that it provides to the Maltese community. She urged those present to continue to support the MCCV so that it may continue with its work.
Refering to Mr Borg’s appeal to the younger generation, Ms Pisani encouraged the younger members of the community to join and form part of the Maltese Centre and continue the work of the MCCV.
In his address, MCCV Chaplin Fr Edwin Agius congratulated the MCCV on its 60th anniversary. He then spoke about the importance of the partnership between the MCCV and the MSSP and the role of spiritual leadership that the MSSP has provided to the Maltese community over the years.
Fr Agius said that the Church requires us all to be involved in our mission. Every baptised person is a missionary and everyone in the community shares this mission. Spiritual life is part of the ministry. This sense of shared ministry needs to be shown in all interactions within the community.
CLICK HERE to download slide presentation (PDF 14MB)