On 3 June, the Ethnic Communities’ Council of Victoria (ECCV) held our 50th anniversary celebration at Parliament House. More than 130 guests gathered in the majestic Queen’s Hall to reflect on and commemorate what ECCV has achieved over the past half-century as Victoria’s peak body for migrants and refugees.

Speakers included the Minister for Multicultural Affairs Ingrid Stitt MP, Leader of the Opposition and Shadow Minister for Multicultural Affairs John Pesutto MP, Greens Spokesperson for Multiculturalism Samantha Ratnam MP and First Peoples’ Assembly of Victoria co-chairperson Rueben Berg.

A highlight of the evening was a speech by ECCV co-founder George Papadopoulos, who spoke about his pride in seeing the organisation he helped establish not only “survive but flourish” in its mission to advocate for the rights and interests of Victoria’s diverse communities.

ECCV Chairperson Eddie Micallef paid tribute to the tireless efforts of community leaders who fought for multiculturalism throughout the decades, helping set up not only ECCV, but the multicultural sector as a whole.

ECCV CEO Mo Elrafihi echoed this sentiment, stating that he stood “on the shoulders of giants” who were instrumental in paving the way for the “vibrant multicultural state” we live in today. He also highlighted the significance of Rueben Berg’s presence at the event, which he described as “illustrative” of ECCV’s commitment to strengthening engagement between multicultural and First Nations communities.

Minister Stitt elaborated on these ideas, praising the “trailblazers” who generously gave their time and energy to building ECCV into a “bastion of strength for multicultural and multifaith communities.”

“I want to acknowledge the huge role ECCV has played in the last 50 years, but particularly in the current climate, in advocating for harmony and social cohesion across our great state,” Minister Stitt said.

In his inspiring address, Rueben Berg highlighted the common experiences and goals shared between First Nations and multicultural communities, and called on all Victorians to continue working together to “create a society where every culture is celebrated and every individual can thrive”.

Samantha Ratnam drew attention to the profound impact ECCV’s work has had in promoting cross-cultural understanding and “collective power”.

“Congratulations to ECCV on 50 years of shaping Victoria and helping to make multiculturalism possible here and our communities stronger for it,” Samantha Ratnam said.

John Pesutto similarly expressed his admiration for Victoria’s “multicultural success” story and named ECCV as one of the key players in making this a reality.

ECCV patron, The Hon Steve Bracks AC, was unable to attend, but addressed guests in a video message which emphasised his pride in delivering, during his time as Premier, landmark reforms that ECCV had advocated for, including the first Multicultural Act for Victoria.

MC for the event was Voula Messimeri AM, who is a long-time supporter and friend of ECCV, having served for 27 years as CEO of the Australian Greek Welfare Society, one of the organisation’s founding members.

The event was attended by the Federation of Ethnic Communities’ Councils of Australia Chairperson Carlo Carli, Ethnic Communities’ Council of NSW Chairperson Peter Doukas OAM, Ethnic Communities’ Council of Queensland Chairperson Elijah Buol OAM, Victorian Multicultural Commission Chairperson Vivienne Nguyen AM and Deputy Chairperson Bwe Thay, Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commissioner Ro Allen, parliamentarians including Sheena Watt MP and Lee Tarlamis MP, and many others.

ECCV is currently producing a digital exhibition to commemorate our 50th anniversary, which will be launched in the latter half of 2024.