More than 100 people came along to ECCV’s 2023 Annual General Meeting on 30 November, making it one of our most well-attended AGMs in recent years.

The event highlight was the special announcement that the evening’s keynote speaker, former Victorian Premier The Hon Steve Bracks AC, had been appointed ECCV’s new patron. Mr Bracks’ appointment comes after the retirement of previous patron, Governor of Victoria, The Hon Linda Dessau AC, who was preceded by ECCV’s inaugural patron, former Prime Minister The Hon Malcolm Fraser AC.

The meeting opened with a moment of silence led by ECCV CEO Mo Elrafihi. Mr Elrafihi acknowledged the pain and grief felt by many in our multicultural and multifaith communities, and reiterated the importance of unity and social cohesion during these challenging times.

In his keynote address, Mr Bracks echoed the sentiments expressed by Mr Elrafihi, emphasising the importance of maintaining social inclusion in the face of “division and acrimony.” The former Premier quoted from and offered his support for a statement made by Mr Elrafihi, which called on Victorians to demonstrate “empathy, compassion, and mutual respect” in standing with communities affected by the Israel-Hamas conflict.

Mr Bracks also reflected on his decades-long relationship with ECCV, and expressed his excitement in continuing to work with ECCV in this new capacity “to champion multiculturalism, inclusivity and social cohesion”. Mr Bracks acknowledged the strong advocacy demonstrated by former Chairperson of ECCV and the Victorian Multicultural Commission George Lekakis AO, whom he worked with during his time as Premier to introduce important law reforms, such as the Racial and Religious Tolerance Act (2001), the Multicultural Victoria Act (2004) and the Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities Act (2006). The speech was met with a rousing round of applause, followed by an impromptu Q&A session.

Mr Lekakis was honoured with Life Membership of ECCV for his outstanding contributions to ECCV and multicultural Victoria. He gave a powerful acceptance speech touching on ECCV’s rich legacy of advocacy, including the 10-point plan he proposed successfully to then Premier Steve Bracks, and the importance of empowering future generations to keep up the fight.

“Continue on with your great work. Make sure you influence the generations to come, and make us proud for the work we took on in the same way I was very proud of the work that Walter LippmannGeorge Zengalis and other ECCV founders took on,” said Mr Lekakis.

Life Membership was also bestowed to Voula Messimeri AM. Ms Messimeri was unable to attend in person, but she passed on a heartfelt message, saying she was “deeply honoured” and felt it a “privilege” to have contributed “to the important work undertaken by ECCV” for over two decades.

Eddie Micallef delivered his Chairperson’s Report, announcing the publication of our latest Annual Report and highlighting the organisation’s achievements over the last 12 months.

Mo Elrafihi also delivered his CEO report, outlining the work currently undertaken to develop the new Strategic Plan, which will guide ECCV’s work over the next decade and enable us to “shape the national conversation” and “increase the capacity of the multicultural sector and our communities”.

Mr Elrafihi’s speech looked ahead to ECCV’s 50th anniversary next year by recognising the accomplishments and sacrifices made by the people and communities who have built organisation for almost five decades. Mr Elrafihi named multiculturalism as our state’s greatest strength and committed to uphold ECCV’s mission to being the leading voice for multicultural Victoria.

“We have shown that the more we come together as multicultural communities, the better able we are to not just carry the weight of history, but create a better future,” said Mr Elrafihi.

Elections for the 2023-25 Board of Directors were also conducted at the AGM. Congratulations to newly-elected directors Richard Ogetii, Kenny Tran and Minwen Wu, and to re-elected directors Abiola AkinbiyiJoe CaputoDr Medha Gunawardana, Gabrielle Marchetti, Jenny Matic, Eddie Micallef and Jill Morgan AM. The election of Office Bearers will take place at the next Board meeting in January.

The AGM was a wonderful opportunity to connect with our members and supporters to reflect on the challenges and triumphs of the past year, and consolidate our vision for the year ahead. Thank you to everyone who attended, and to everyone who has helped shape ECCV’s work throughout another challenging year.