By GLORIA SEIBEL/NORMINDA VILLANUEVA
The Center for Philippine Concerns Australia inc (CPCA) celebrated its 18th Anniversary with dinner at RSL Dandenong on 23 October 2009. The founding members, community leaders, volunteers and parliamentarians gathered to celebrate the organisation’s years of achievement in providing settlement, women’s advocacy, youth sports, and community visiting and elderly services to Filipinos living in South Eastern Metropolitan Melbourne and Gippsland Region since its inception in 1981.
The Guest Speaker The Hon Anthony Byrne MP, Federal Member for Holt and Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister, spoke about Filipinos’ integration into mainstream Australian society. “I commend the founding members of CPCA for their leadership in addressing the Filipino community’s needs, especially the issue of family violence and social isolation of women”, he said. “I encourage the members to develop other services and to continue responding to current needs of the community”, he added.
The Director for Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) in Victoria, Mr Jose Alvarez (pictured left) talked about his role in government during CPCA’s initial work in tackling the issue of serial sponsorship of Filipino women coming to Australia. “CPCA programs were a lifeline to many women needing support in their early years in Australia way back then”, Mr Alvarez told the audience, who included founding members Gabby Ocampo, Melba Marginson, Rose Cerdena and others.
Mr Sam Afra, Chairperson of Ethnic Communities Council of Victoria, outlined the current progressive work of CPCA among young people, seniors and newly arrived migrants in the region. “It is time to turn the page now and continue supporting existing social networks that have been formed through the settlement program through CPCA’s first 10 years”, he said.
The attendees were entertained by cultural performances from Tunog Kawayan Seniors Bamboo Band, Phil-Oz Hip Hop Youth Group and Eliza Kuirip, a young Filipino concert violinist. CPCA Outstanding Volunteer 2009, Mr Orfilio Baltazar received the award from Department of Human Services Program Service Adviser, Ms Gwen Loke (pictured right), for years of dedicated community transport in driving the seniors around for activities day and night, rain or shine.
Norminda Villanueva, CPCA Centre coordinator presented the Strategic Plan for 2010-2012 and the current service structure of the Centre. The final highlights of the night were the candle lighting ceremony to symbolise the passing of the baton from one generation to the next, the blowing of 18 candles and the cutting of the anniversary cake by founding members and the current Board of Management under the leadership of Mrs Consejo Chavarria.
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