The second part of proceedings at the reception held on 21 September at the Maltese Centre in Parkville to commemorate the 51st Anniversary of Malta’s Independence consisted of the presentation of the MCCV Community Awards 2015.
In 2012 the MCCV established its Annual 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, arts and generally to the well being of our Maltese community.
This year the MCCV honoured twelve 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: Mrs Frances Bonnici
- Culture: Mr George Aquilina
- Welfare Services: Mrs Mary Dingli
- Youth: Mrs Rita Catania (in absentia)
- General services to the community: Mr Eddie Micallef, Mr Gejtu Deguara, Alfred Bonello and Mr Reno Grima
MRS FRANCES BONNICI
Frances Bonnici was born in Paola, Malta. A teacher by profession, she trained as a teacher at the Mater Admirabilis Training College in Malta. In 1986 she arrived with her family in Melbourne, where started teaching after completing conversion studies at the Phillip Institute in Coburg. Initially, she started as an emergency teacher, then as teacher of Italian, at a small country school, Panton Hill She also taught Art, before progressing to classroom teacher.
An active member of our community, in 2002 Mrs Bonnici was elected President of the Maltese Historical Association, a position she held for some 12 years. She also held the positon of MHA Treasurer for some time prior to her presidency.
In 2005 she started to look at encouraging students to learn Maltese and she organised student bursaries for this purpose. She established the Maltese language immersion morning activities, mostly conducted in the Maltese language. To run these immersion mornings she was assisted by the Maltese Literature Group and Newport Maltese Association.
She attended as a Victorian delegate at meetings of the Federation of Maltese Language Schools held in Canberra and Sydney.
MR GEORGE AQUILINA
George Aquilina is the founder of the Klabb Għannejja Maltin. Through his efforts club premises were established at Gooding Street, St Albans. He was personally responsible for considerable improvements made to the premises, including the construction of the carpark and driveways. Over many years, the club provided an excellent opportunity to showcase the beauty of Maltese folk music, known as “għana”, in Australia.
Maltese għana singing has been traditionally with the Maltese nation for centuries and was always regarded as the music of the peasant, the farmer, the labourer and the washerwomen. It has generally been associated with the working classes.
Klabb Għannejja Maltin was formed to provide an environment and a meeting place for the Maltese għannejja (singers of għana) and kitarristi (guitarists) living in Melbourne to meet and express themselves in this traditional form of Maltese folkloristic music, thereby keeping it alive in their adopted country of Australia.
The Maltese community is grateful to Mr Aquilina for his leadership in the field of Maltese culture as expressed in traditional Maltese music and singing.
MRS MARY DINGLI
Mary Dingli was born in Malta and came to Australia in her mid-20s in 1959. Together with her family, she always lived in Springvale which in the early days was the hub for the Maltese migrants living in the South Eastern Suburbs.
Since 1970 the Maltese community of the South Eastern Suburbs had their chaplaincy based at St Paul’s Missionary College in Wantirna South, looking after the social and cultural welfare and religious needs of the Maltese in the area. Mary joined a committee which helps the Maltese chaplain to care for the needs of the community.
Mrs Dingli was the President of a Ladies Auxiliary Group which was started to work with women in the Maltese community in the late seventies. This group addressed the needs of women who were not in the workforce and felt isolated. She was instrumental in organizing outings and other cultural and social activities for this group.
Mrs Dingli freely shared her knowledge and great talents to help these women to widen their interest by involving them in arts and craft work, such as, paper tales, lace work, and other crafts. For many years she organized a craft stall at the College Fete and the Maltese Cultural Festival.
For many years Mrs Dingli has championed and supported the MCCV by attending and organising groups to participate in Maltese community activities. For many years she has organized a bus to take people to the Friday night bingo at theMaltese Centre.
Still active in the community, Mrs Dingli currently holds the positions of Treasurer and Social Secretary of the Maltese Seniors of the South Eastern Suburbs and also Social Secretary of St Paul’s SE Suburbs.
MRS RITA CATANIA (in absentia)
Mr Michael Catania accepted the award on behalf of his wife, who was unable to attend.
Born in Australia of Maltese parents, Rita Catania has been involved in Maltese community affairs for several years. As member of the MCCV Youth Committee, she started the highly successful youth group, known as Generation AusMalts, which have a very active Facebook page with hundreds of followers.
As leader of this group, Rita was the driving force behind several professionally organised and highly popular community events, such as, masterclasses for the making of figolli, ravjul and, most recently, pastizzi, which brought together the older and younger generations of Maltese in Melbourne to celebrate and enjoy the Maltese food culture.
Rita has also been in involved with Maltese language classes, where she made several presentations in Maltese. She has been on interviews conducted in Maltese on the Maltese programme of SBS Radio. Rita has also been involved in the running of the MCCV Children’s Christmas party this year.
In 2012 Rita was the recipient of the inaugural Bishop Joseph Grech Memorial Scholarship. On her trip to Malta she took every opportunity to familiarise herself with all aspects of Maltese culture. She also shared her experiences by posting regular contributions to the GAM Facebook page. On her return, she continued to infuse other young persons of Maltese heritage with her enthusiasm for Maltese culture.
Rita studied Travel and Tourism Management and started her career in hospitality and travel. During the past 14 years she has been working in marketing communication in the sports entertainment industry.
MR EDDIE MICALLEF
Eddie Micallef was born in Brunswick in Melbourne to Francis Emmanuel Micallef, a tradesman’s assistant, and Rita Margaret, née Dali, who worked as a clothing machinist. He attended Catholic schools before studying at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology, becoming an apprentice fitter and turner in 1958. He completed his apprenticeship in 1963, becoming a turbine fitter in 1965.
In 1968 he joined the Australian Labor Party, and he became vice-president of the Reservoir Branch from 1973 to 1974. In 1983 he was elected to the Victorian Legislative Assembly as the member for Springvale in a by-election and served in Parliament until 1999.
Mr Micallef was promoted to the front bench in 1992, serving as Shadow Minister for Industry Services and also assisting the Shadow Minister for Industrial Relations. Ethnic Affairs was added to his portfolio in 1994, but he stepped down from the front bench in 1997. He retired from politics in 1999.
Mr Micallef has been an active and prominent member of the Maltese community in Melbourne. He attended the Convention of Maltese Living Abroad in Malta in 2010. For several years, he represented the MCCV on the Ethnic Communities Council of Victoria and last year he was elected Chairman of the ECCV, a position which he still holds. He is always keen to support and assist the MCCV in its activities.
MR GEJTU DEGUARA
Gejtu Deguara has been a very active member of the Maltese community in Melbourne for decades. He is a former President of St Gaetan’s Society Inc, an MCCV-affiliated association, a position he held for several years.
For 16 years, Mr Deguara formed part of the MCCV Executive Committee and for a number of years as Vice President. During this time he played a major role in organising various community activities.
For many years Mr Deguara was also responsible for maintenance works that were required to be carried out at the community centre. The MCCV thanks Mr Deguara for his efforts in ensuring that the Centre has been maintained to a high standard.
MR ALFRED BONELLO
Alfred Bonello has been a very active member of the Maltese community in Melbourne for decades. He was co-founder of the Maltese Australian Seniors Club Glenroy.
For some 30 years he served as the Secretary of the Maltese Association Northern Suburbs, formed in 1976 to provide an opportunity for the Maltese community in the Northern Suburbs of Melbourne to meet at social functions and gatherings as well as on specially organised trips and outings.
In the early 1980s Mr Bonello held the position of Secretary and Assistant Secretary on the MCCV Executive Committee.
Many of us would recall Mr Bonello, together with his late wife Lina, participating in the Maltese Cultural Festival events by manning the bigilla stall.
MR RENO GRIMA
Reno Grima is the founder of St Helena Maltese Australian Social Club Inc. He started the club in 1980 and was its President for 10 years.
For the past 35 years Mr Grima has been promoting events involving artist singers and comedians from all over Australia and, particularly, from Malta, to provide entertain the local Maltese community. His main motivation in promoting such events is simply to bring the Maltese together and to see them enjoying themselves.
While he founded and closely supported St Helena Club, Mr Grima extended his assistance to several other Maltese associations and at 79 is still keen to continue to provide assistance to those seeking his help. S