2015 - A Recap

by Esther Lozano - Thursday, 17 December 2015

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This past year has been one of the most eventful in the recent history of the ECC. Importantly, celebrating our 40th year of ECC.

Our celebrations throughout the year, including the 40th Anniversary dinner held in May, prioritised showcasing the work of the ECC over the last 40 years and secured the vision for the future through renewed planning and a new team. 

AGM 2015

I would like to thank the members of the 2013-15 Board and Members’ Forum for their dedicated work and support. The ECCNSW AGM held in October saw the election of a new Board and Members’ Forum who I have no doubt will contribute to the ongoing work of the Council. 

Achievements of the ECC NSW

In this 40th year as a state peak body it noteworthy to acknowledge and appreciate the many achievements of the Ethnic Communities’ Council, and to recognise the significance of these successes.  It is important that these achievements be recognised and celebrated:

  • Assisting in the creation of the Racial Discrimination Act
  • The Australian Multicultural Foundation
  •  Lobbying for the establishment of the Special Broadcasting Service
  •  Migrant Resource Centres in every state
  •  The Ethnic Affairs Commission, which later became the Community Relations Commission, and is today Multicultural NSW
  •  Anti-Discrimination Act NSW, and it’s successful application of it becoming unlawful for a person to discriminate against person on the grounds of race
  •  Lobbying for and drafting the definition of Multiculturalism included in the Community Relations Commission Act.
  •  Coordinating community responses to the Cronulla Riots
  •  Environmental projects for which we were awarded a Premier’s Award
  •  Coordinating response to Federal Government’s proposed changes to s. 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act whereby over 100 ECCNSW members took action.

Always, and without hesitation remaining independent οf any and all inter community conflict

Launch of Strategic Plan

In recognition of the 40th Anniversary of the Ethnic Communities’ Council of NSW, the Board took it upon itself to initiate a full review of the organisation. This review was to encompass all aspects of the organisation and acknowledge the need for us to be an agile, competitive and representative NGO into the 21st century.

The result was the Strategic Plan launched by the Minister for Multiculturalism, the Honourable John Ajaka MLC in November 2015. Through this document, the ECC will maintain its position as the pre-eminent member based representative body in multicultural Australia. I applaud the work of the Board, Members’ Forum and Executive Officer in preparing and finalising our Strategic Plan for a 21st Century ECC . I also wish to thank Jenny Bray of Jenny Bray Consulting for her insightful assistance throughout this process. Our challenge now is implementing this bold new plan into the future.

Challenges

I have consistently maintained that we must not fall into complacency. The Australian multicultural project is far from complete and current events show us all that the challenges remain within this delicate framework. These include:

The radicalisation of young Australians

  • Islamophobia
  • A resurgent Anti-Semitism
  • Social mobility among migrant communities
  • Challenges of increased racism among more established immigrant communities
  • The continued and illegal incarceration of children in Australian detention centres
  • The outward growth of the large metropolitan areas and the social issues to tackle
  •  Ever increasing economic disparity between rich and poor

 Achievements of the FECCA Conference

Over 500 delegates from every state and territory attended the FECCA Conference held in November 2015. Furthermore, contributors to the content of the deliberations were sought out from the widest possible grouping. This has had the effect of people recounting to me that the 2015 FECCA Conference was the most rewarding experience and the best they had ever attended.

Importantly, the most significant aspect for delegates was the integration of scholarly philosophical discussions of the future of Australia through the prism of multiculturalism and grass roots reviews of life in Australia in 2015.

In this world of ever increasing complexity, the FECCA 2015 Conference proved that the role of the Ethnic Communities’ Councils is more important now than it has ever been. Furthermore, their relevance to the preservation of a harmonious, open and pluralistic society has increased tenfold.

I acknowledge the important work of the dedicated Boards and the staff of the Ethnic Communities’ Council of NSW and of those in the Federation of Ethnic Communities’ Councils of Australia (FECCA).

I also wish to pay a special tribute to the work of the Chair of FECCA, Mr Joe Caputo for his leadership over the last two years and wish him well as he takes on the role as Chair for a further 2 years. 

Holiday Greeting and Thank You

Thank you for your commitment to the cause of the Ethnic Communities’ Council over the past year. I would also like to thank the dedicated staff at the offices of ECC, led by our dynamic Executive Officer, Ms Mary Karras for all their work throughout the year.

I wish you and your families all the best for the Holiday season and look forward to building a happy and prosperous multicultural Australia together with you in 2016.

Peter Doukas

Chair

Ethnic Communities’ Council of NSW