The second part of proceedings at the Consul General’s farewell reception held on 18 June at the Maltese Centre in Parkville consisted of the presentation of the MCCV Community Awards 2016.
In 2012 the MCCV established its annual MCCV Community Awards to publicly recognise, and show its appreciation for, the valuable contribution of Maltese people to the enrichment of the Maltese community in Victoria, whether by their contribution to scholarship, education, welfare services, culture, the arts and generally to the wellbeing of our Maltese community.
This year the MCCV honoured seven members of our community who have made a significant contribution to various aspects of our community life. The Awards were presented to the successful nominees, namely:
- Education & Scholarship: Prof. Maurice Cauchi
- Culture: Mr Alfred Cachia and
Ms Marlene Scicluna (in absentia)
- Welfare Services: Fr Edwin Agius mssp
- General services to the community: Mr Vincent Calleja, Mrs Marlene Xerri and Mr Charles Belli
PROF. MAURICE CAUCHI
In 1969 Prof Cauchi proceeded to Melbourne, Australia to take up the post of Senior Lecturer in Pathology at Monash University. Later he was appointed Director of Haematology and Immunology at the Royal Women’s Hospital in Melbourne, and Clinical Associate Professor at both the University of Melbourne and Monash University Medical Schools.
In 1992 Prof Cauchi returned to Malta and was appointed Professor of Pathology, Chairman of the Bioethics Consultative Committee in the Ministry of Health, and Chairman of the Gozo Health Council. After 11 years living in Malta, Prof Cauchi returned to Australia in 2003.
Prof Cauchi has represented the MCCV on various committees both in Australia and overseas. His current membership of the Council for Maltese Living Abroad and his past presidency of the Federation of Maltese Living Abroad are an indication of his commitment and involvement.
Prof Cauchi has also maintained a regular contribution to Maltese newspapers, particularly in relation to issues affecting Maltese living overseas. For three years, between 1988 and1991, Prof Cauchi was Chairman of the Ethnic Communities’ Council of Victoria which represents the interests of all Victorian residents born overseas.
Prof Cauchi served as MCCV President for a total period of fourteen years, including the two consecutive terms of two years each ending in 2014. For many years, he has organised and directed the development of the MCCV library at the Maltese Centre, in Parkville, which contains the largest collection of books and other publications about Malta, its history, culture and literature outside Malta. Prof Cauchi continues to support MCCV initiatives and to serve the Maltese community in Victoria and overseas.
His other community commitments have included: President of the Maltese Literature Group (1984-1986); President of the Federated Maltese Council of Australia (1988-1991); Chairman of the Commission for Maltese Abroad (Ministry for Social Policy, Malta 1992-1994) and Chairman of the Malta Migration Museum (2001-2003) (www.maltamigration.com).
For his services to the community, in 1991 Prof Cauchi was made a Member of the Order of Australia (AM). In 1992 the Maltese Government awarded Prof Cauchi the Medalja għall-Qadi tar-Repubblika (MQR), the ‘Medal for Services to the Republic’ of Malta.
Over the years, Prof Cauchi made a significant contribution to scholarship and education and gave a high profile to the Maltese community. He has written and published several books on health, migration and various aspects of Maltese community and culture.
His impressive list of books and publications relating to migration include: Maltese Migrants in Australia (1990), The Maltese Migrant Experience (1999), Worlds Apart – Migration in Modern English Literature (2002), Maltese Achievers in Australia (2006), A Who’s Who of Maltese-Background Persons in Australia and New Zealand (2008), Under One Umbrella: A History of the Maltese Community Council of Victoria 1958-2008 (2009).
MR ALFRED CACHIA
Alfred Cachia was born in Zebbug, Malta in 1939. At 20 years of age in 1959 he married his wife Victoria (Vicky) and they have four children, 7 grandchildren and 4 great grandchildren.
Alfred is a skilled carpenter and in Malta he specialized in carpentry work in various churches. He also attended the school of arts, design and carving. He is passionate about Maltese culture and folklore.
Alfred arrived in Australia on the 6th January 1963 and was initially employed as a carpenter and joiner. He later specialised in the manufacture of quality and reproduction furniture.
Among the quality furniture that Alfred produced are the altar, the pews and the Bambina niche in St Paul’s Chapel in Parkville.
Some 35 years ago Alfred achieved his dream and built his house at Hoppers Crossing in the style of a Maltese farm house. Many community members have enjoyed his hospitality and companionship.
Alfred is extremely competent in the Maltese language and an accomplished poet. For many years, he has been a keen member of the Maltese Literature group, regularly participating in presentations of the group and presenting some of his work.
Alfred is also an accomplished musician. He is a member of the Klabb Għannejja Maltin and regularly takes part in għana sessions playing his folk guitar, which he himself designed and manufactured.
Amongst other hobbies Alfred is a keen motor cyclist and enjoys regular runs in the Victorian Countryside.
During the construction of the Parkville Centre he was of great assistance to the planning committee and carried out odd jobs as required.
Alfred has been exemplary and a good role model for many young members of the community.
MS MARLENE SCICLUNA (in absentia)
Marlene Scicluna was born in Sydney in 1969 of an Aboriginal mother and an American father. When she was three years of age, she was adopted by a Maltese couple and taken to Malta, where she was brought up in the village of Xagħra in Gozo.
Marlene was very active in Performing Arts. At the young age of six, she started singing in local Song Contests and won several festivals. She also performed in numerous stage productions in Xagħra directed by Chevalier Julian Refalo Rapa.
Marlene’s interest in, and contribution to, Maltese culture started while she was living in Gozo. In the first half of the 1990s she volunteered as a Choreographer for Carnival dances and stage productions in the village of Xaghra in 1994 and for stage productions at the Oratory of Don Bosco in Victoria in 1996.
Between 1993 and 1998 Marlene worked as a Physical Education Teacher at St Francis Primary School, Victoria, Gozo.
In 1989, Marlene was introduced to broadcasting by Joe Borg Ghigo in the weekly PBS Radio magazine from Gozo – Mill-Gzira ta’ Calypso – formerly known as Mit-Tokk t’Għawdex. She was the presenter for 10 years until 1998.
For six years following her return to Australia in 1998, Marlene was the choreographer for the Young Maltese Australian Dancers, a group of 20 young Australians of Maltese descent, performing Maltese traditional dances at various multicultural events around Melbourne.
In Australia, Marlene settled in Victoria and resumed her career in broadcasting. She started off as a contributor for Maltese Language Programs on SBS Radio and in 2001 became a permanent Broadcast Journalist.
During her 14 years in that role at SBS Radio, Marlene made a significant contribution to culture within the Maltese community in Australia. With her professionalism as a broadcaster and her mastery of the Maltese language, she became a household name among the Maltese in Melbourne.
For 10 years, she was the Senior Producer for the Maltese Language Program, a position she held until the rescheduling of programs on SBS Radio in 2013, when Maltese language programs were reduced from 9 hours to 2 hours per week. She soon returned to SBS Radio for another two years, after SBS agreed to temporarily restore two one-hour Maltese language programs per week until 2015.
As broadcaster at SBS Radio, Marlene interviewed numerous Maltese and Australian personalities, including Presidents and Prime Ministers of Malta and other visiting Maltese politicians, musicians and artists.
She has also presented numerous community events both in Malta and Australia. Marlene attended two Conventions for Maltese Living Abroad in Malta, both as a main speaker and as a reporter for SBS Radio.
In 2011 Marlene co-founded nisġa, a not-for-profit organisation set up to promote and enhance Maltese culture and cuisine in Melbourne. nisġa organises an annual Maltese Cook Off competition, where 10 teams made up of 3 members cook Maltese traditional dishes.
More recently, Marlene was Director, Executive Producer, Presenter & Editor of Maltese DownUnder, a Maltese cultural TV show produced in Melbourne and aired on the community TV Channel 31.
The program showcased Maltese cultural heritage, the arts, music, food, travel, cultural events and sport. Its aim was to inform and entertain its audience through stories that inspire and strengthen the pride of all Maltese Australians.
Some segments were presented in Maltese for Maltese native speakers and some in English for the younger generation of Australians of Maltese descent wishing to know more about their Maltese family heritage. Unfortunately, the program had to be discontinued due to a lack of sponsorship.
FR EDWIN AGIUS mssp
Fr Edwin Agius mssp was born in Malta. He joined the Missionary Society of St Paul as an aspirant at the age of 12 years. He commenced his novitiate in 1961 and was ordained in Malta on the 22 March 1969.
Following his ordination, he was appointed as a teacher as St Paul’s Missionary College in Malta.
He arrived in Australia on the 4th February 1971 as an assistant Priest at St Bernadette Parish in Sunshine.
In 1981 he returned to Malta and was appointed as the Master of Novices. He became a member of the MSSP General Council and in 1994 was appointed as the director of St Joseph’s Home in Hamrun.
In 1995 Fr Agius returned to Australia initially as an assistant priest and in 1998 became the Parish Priest of St Bernadette Parish in Sunshine.
In 2004 he was appointed Chaplain to the Maltese at Parkville and later the Rector at Parkville. He served for two terms as a member of the Provincial Council.
Since his arrival at Parkville, Fr Agius has been Chaplain for the Maltese Community Council of Victoria and has worked tirelessly in providing religious services to the community. He has given great spiritual leadership and comfort to many members of the Maltese and general community.
Fr Agius is also on a roster for the Royal Melbourne Hospital where he attends at short notice and at all hours of the day.
He has been extremely helpful in providing weekly masses for the MCCV Planned Activity Groups at Sunshine and Parkville. He is constantly in demand to officiate at marriage celebrations, baptisms and requiem masses.
He is also the director of the Spiritual Program and responsible for organising religious activities at St Paul’s Chapel for Christmas, Easter, Maltese feast days and days of obligation. He maintains a meaningful contact with Maltese families who seek his counsel from time to time. He is a much-respected member of the community.
Fr Agius attends MCCV Executive and Council Meetings on a regular basis. His contribution is very much appreciated.
MR VINCENT CALLEJA
Vincent Calleja was born in 1931 in Valletta, Malta and married his wife Lillian in 1953. They had 2 children, Maria and Natalin, 2 grandchildren and 2 great grandchildren.
At the age of 18 years Vincent joined the Malta Police Force, an occupation which he held until his departure for Australia in 1955.
Vincent arrived in Australia on the 10th March 1955. Amongst his occupations, Vincent joined the Australian Post Office as a postman and later promoted to the investigation section, becoming a senior security officer. He retired in 1988 aged 57.
Vincent was a founding member of the Newport Maltese Association together with other prominent Maltese Community members living in the Newport area. For some 22 years Vincent served the Association as a Vice President and held the position of President between 1994 and 2010.
Vince served the Maltese Community Council of Victoria initially as the Social Secretary and for 6 years held the office of Vice President.
Vincent has for some 25 years assisted with organising the Maltese Cultural festival and was heavily involved with the running of Bingo sessions at the Maltese Centre in Parkville.
Vincent and his recently deceased wife Lillian, were a formidable team in raising funds and running activities at the Maltese Community Centre. Their regular visits to the Centre and their involvement in all activities was a clear indication of their commitment and their dedication to the advancement of members of the Maltese community.
Vincent was awarded the Medal for Meritorious to the Community and the Order of Australia Medial (OAM) for his outstanding voluntary contributions to the Maltese Community in Victoria.
MRS MARLENE XERRI
Marlene Xerri was born in Hamrun, Malta. After the war her family moved to St Julians. In 1964 her family migrated to Melbourne, Australia, initially settling in Thornbury and later moving to Thomastown.
Marlene’s first job was in the notes printing and issue branch of the Reserve Bank of Australia. Later, Marlene moved to Unilever as an invoice clerk. In 1967, she married Andrew and left work in 1968 to start a family. Together they have three daughters.
Late in 1970s Marlene became involved with the Maltese Community Council as a volunteer, working in the office at the old house in Parkville, answering phones and help with Social Security (Centrelink) forms. Later Marlene was employed as a Social Worker Aide, working with all the social workers employed by the MCCV. Marlene also worked on other MCCV projects, e.g. the Home Visitation Program.
In 1990 Marlene enrolled at the RMIT campus in Coburg as a mature age student. In 1994 she graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Multicultural Studies.
Marlene worked at Centrelink as a bilingual officer on the Multilingual Call Centre line. She later transferred to the Family Call Centre. She was also employed by the National Accreditation Authority for Translators and Interpreters (NAATI) as an Interpreter for the Maltese Community.
While working, Marlene remained active within the Maltese Community Council Ladies Auxiliary (LA) as a volunteer, as in the role of Treasurer and later as President.
The Ladies Auxiliary provided support during the Maltese Cultural Festival, Fete, and functions for VIPs visiting the Maltese Centre. The Ladies Auxiliary continues to run weekly bingo session on Tuesdays for the aging Maltese in our community which it is an important social & recreational activity.
Marlene has been President of the Ladies auxiliary for over 20 years.
MR CHARLES BELLI
Charles Belli was born in Msida, Malta in 1932. He was educated at St Aloysius College in Malta. He arrived in Australia in 1954 aged 22 years. He married his wife Doris on the 17th September 1955. They have three children, Raymond, Anthony and Yvonne, seven grandchildren and two great grandchildren.
Charles and his wife built their home in West Street, Glenroy, where they raised their family and have resided since. Shortly after arriving in Australia Charles continued with his education and obtained a Certificate of Civil and Civic Industrial Chemistry (Oxford) at RMIT Melbourne and a Certificate of Business Management at Melbourne University.
Charles worked for over 8 years as Production Assistant and later Production Manager with the Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation. Later he spent almost 20 years at Port Philip Mills in Melbourne as Dye House Manager and Centre Controller.
Charles served on various sport and social committees in Malta and in Melbourne. For some 30 years he held the position of President of the Broadmeadows Soccer Club and other positions on its executive committee.
At its meeting held in October 2016 the MCCV Executive Committee awarded an MCCV Community Award to Charles Belli for Community Services over a period of many years, including his significant contribution to the establishment and management of the MCCV library.
On Thursday 15th December 2016 MCCV President Victor Borg and Vice President Joe Stafrace attended at the Belli home to personally inform and congratulate Charles Belli of the MCCV Community Award, as they had been advised that he was in a poor state of health. He was extremely pleased and expressed his gratitude to the Council for the award.
Sadly, three days later, on Sunday 18th December 2016, Charles Belli passed away peacefully surrounded by his family.
Mr Belli’s widow, Mrs Doris Belli, accepted the presentation of the Award Certificate.