On March 8 the international community celebrated the achievements of women across the world. Recognised by the United Nations in 1975, International Women’s Day has been observed for more than 100 years and this year theme was #PressforProgress.
The Multicultural Communities Council of SA marked the day by the introduction of the Quiet Achievers Award to celebrate and acknowledge hard working women from CALD communities whose enormous contribution to the South Australian society which often at times goes unnoticed.
The event was hosted at the Adelaide Town Hall by the Lady Mayoress, Genevieve Theseira-Haese and her husband the Lord Mayor Martin Haese. MCCSA would like to share a brief history of the twelve proud award recipients who were nominated by the diverse communities we work with.

Wendysia Sen
Temple Christian College School Prefect Wendysia Sen is a leader within the Multicultural Communities Council of SA youth group. With passion and drive that is well beyond her years, Wendysia has a genuine interest in promoting and supporting the Cambodian youth and wider Cambodian community in South Australia.

The 17 year old has played an active role in recent years at running community events and assisting with fundraising and activities for children. Wendysia’s peers have praised her for her active engagement with young people in relation to various large scale events, including the Australia Day Parade, Walk Together and the Harmony Day celebrations. She also attended the 2017 Multicultural Youth Parliamentary Reception.

For her work in the multicultural community sector, as a House Leader and School Prefect, Wendysia has been nominated for the 2018 Channel 9 Young Achievers Award.

Shahla Rostami
Following a 20-year professional career in translation, procurement and project and event management in Iran, Shahla Rostami and her family migrated to SouthAustralia in 2013. Shortly after completing the Multicultural Women’s Leadership course, Shahla founded the Iranian Women’s Association in 2015, an organisation
which has since grown to 20 female members and has since organised more than 50 innovative projects to create community cohesion and social inclusion while also promoting the Iranian culture amongst the South Australian multicultural community.
Shahla was fortunate enough to enhance her knowledge in the areas of leadership, event management and industrial cooking through various vocational courses in South Australia. Shahla has been praised by her peers for empowering women, being an active member in the South Australian multicultural sector and for standing up for women’s rights at every opportunity.

Vivien Shae
Registered nurse Vivien Shae has played an instrumental role in the Chines community in South Australia, including serving as President of the Chinese Welfare Services of SA. This organisation exists to give the wider Chinese speaking community a place to come to in times of special need, for social contacts and the sharing of cultures with other organisations.
After being initially asked to teach adult English classes in 2004, her desire to assist in serving the needs of people of Chinese speaking background grew. Vivien took on the role as coordinator of the Gambling Awareness Project which saw her elected to the
Board of the Chinese Welfare Services of SA in 2005, and then being elected President in 2007. Her time as President continues to see a period of rapid change and growth for the organisation and the relocation to a larger premise near China Town on Grote Street
in Adelaide’s CBD. Vivien believes the greatest strength of the Chinese Welfare Services of SA is the renewed collaborative community strategies and the forming of friendship networks within the Chinese speaking communities.

Margota Pukitis
Born in a German bomb shelter during WW2, Margota and her family fled to Australia in 1945, eventually residing at Plympton in the western suburbs of Adelaide. Following her University studies in English and History, and with a passion for the Latvian culture, teaching and education, Margota commenced her 28-year professional career as an English teacher at the Norwood Girls Technical High School. She also taught English as a second language at the Latvian Daugavpils Pedagogical University in Latvia and the Hunan Agricultural University in China. In 2009, Margota was recognised as the Teacher of the Year for Ethnic primary schools in South Australia.
Margota also played a key role in establishing the Latvian language program during her time as a Board Member of the Senior Secondary Assessment Board of South Australia. Outside of her teacher career, Margota is heavily involved in the Latvian community throughout South Australia. Margota represents the Latvian community through Ethnic Link and on the Board of Multicultural Communities Council of SA. She is a life member of the Adelaide Latvian Association, a member of the Latvian choir and works with the Latvian primary school as their cultural events coordinator. Margota is also a Board Member of Amber Aged Care.

Patricia Whitelaw
Born in Mexico City, Patricia was inspired by several family members to gain a temporary Visa in regional Australia 2008 and now currently works in the South Australian disability sector. Patricia completed her Diploma of Enrolled Nursing in 2013 and currently works in the Brain Injury Unit at the Hampstead Rehabilitation Centre. She is currently doing her Masters in Occupational Therapy.

With a love of traditional Mexican dance dating back to her childhood, Patricia founded the dance group Mexican Revolution in 2015 with the aim to showcase and promote the Mexican culture to the wider South Australian community and to work towards social inclusion amongst migrant communities.

Patricia’s dedication to Mexican Revolution since 2015 has seen the group double its membership with a vast increases in regular stage performances. The group has had the privilege to participate in a variety of events, from the Multicultural Awards ceremony at Government House, the Adelaide Fringe, the Multicultural Festival and many other South Australian, African and Latin American community events. Patricia’s community work with the language and culture of Mexico has inspired other communities to have their own dancing groups and to also proudly promote their culture amongst the South Australian community.

Buoyed by her passion, work ethic and attitude, Patricia also ran successful fundraising events in Adelaide last year to raise financial assistance for those affected by the earthquakes in south-west Mexico in 2017.

Vera Sočković
Vera emigrated from Croatia to South Australia in 1986 after meeting her Adelaide born future husband and quickly started working as an Office Manager for a Doctors surgery.
As her children became more independent, Vera began volunteering with the Ethnic Schools Association where she taught Croatian language classes for adults. Vera became further involved in the Croatian community through the Croatian Club, the Croatian Club newsletter and managing membership, ticket sales, general hospitality and event operations. Vera also teaches at the Croatian Ethnic School, serves as a Board Member of Croatian Care for the Aged, is the Function Coordinator of the Croatian Women’s Auxiliary SA and acts as the librarian for the Croatian Club Adelaide Library.
In 2001, Vera was awarded a ‘Certificate of Appreciation’ by the Federal Government for her work in assisting migrants and refugees settle into Australia.

Lily Michailov
Lily Michailov was a student at the Donetsk University in eastern Ukraine when she met her future Adelaide-born husband in 1974. Following her physiology studies, she and her future husband moved to Adelaide and have since married and started a family.

With her main interest being female infertility, Lily pursued her career in the South Australian medical industry, working for almost 30 years as the Endocrine Diagnostic Centre coordinator at the Flinders Medical Centre. Lily is also a Russian-speaking tour guide.

Lily is the founder and inaugural President of the Russians Women’s Association of SA. She has also volunteered for over two decades of her life with several other community organisations, including the Russian Ethnic Representative Council, Multicultural Communities Council of SA, the Unley Council, the Adelaide Botanic Garden, COTA and the Seniors Information Service (now Catalyst Foundation).

Nilda Centurion
Nilda Simmons (nee Centurion) was born in southern Paraguay and following her University studies in accountancy and business administration, followed members of her family to Australia through the Skilled Migration Program where she soon met her future husband, another newly arrived immigrant from England. With no local schools
able to accommodate Nilda’s request for her children to speak, read and write in Spanish, Nilda and three other mothers established the Gabriela Mistral Spanish Speaking School and Cultural Centre.

With a passion for helping people in the community, Nilda has also helped establish the Paraguay Community and was the coordinator of the Paraguay Dance Group. Nilda is currently involved in the seniors art group Buena Amistad Group and the Spanish Speaking Inspirations Group as a volunteer assistant coordinator. In the past few years, Nilda has also joined the Spanish Speaking Communities Network of SA.

Today Nilda manages the finance of their family auto electrician business.

Krystyna Kubiak
In 1947, Krystyna Kubiak and her family fled Germany to Australia. Initially living in Bonegila and then the Woodside Migrants Hostel, Krystyna and her family finally settled in Royal Park in Adelaide’s western suburbs.
Krystyna pursued a long and successful career in the South Australian media sector, working and producing shows for ABC Radio and volunteering with Polish Radio(5EBI FM and 5PBA FM).

She also volunteered with many community organisatons and served as President for both the Adelaide and Amity Red Cross Clubs and Kiwanis Club of Adelaide. Krystyna also served as a Board Member for the Dom Polski Centre, the Polish Hill River Church Museum, the Federation of Polish Organisations and the Polish ‘Kolo Polek’ Women’s Organisation. Krystyna also helped establish the Polish Dozynki Festival and taught English to newly arrived Polish and Czech immigrants into Adelaide. She is also a member of the Polish ‘Cantores’ Choice which performs at various functions and at Polish Nursing Homes throughout the South Australia community.

Tina Karanastasis
As the daughter of Greek immigrants who settled in South Australia in the 1950s, Tina’s experiences of the hardship and discrimination experienced by ‘new Australians’ left a very strong imprint, which ultimately led to a long and fulfilling career in multicultural and ethnic affairs.

In a professional career spanning almost four decades, Tina has held senior management and policy positions within the State and Federal Governments, as well as the Not-For Profit sector. She has worked with the Migrant Resource Centre, Ethnic Affairs Commission, Migrant Health Unit of the SA Health Commission, Multicultural Communities Council of SA and Ethnic Link Services at Uniting SA. Tina was also a founding member of the Migrant Women’s Emergency Support Service, the Multicultural Respite and Dementia Service within Woodville Domiciliary Care and the Multicultural Advocacy and Liaison Service of SA.

Tina is perhaps best known for her role as Regional Coordinator with the Office of Multicultural Affairs within the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, a position she held for seven years in the 1980s and 1990s. The National Agenda for a Multicultural Australia, the commissioning of an extensive collection of Policy Options Papers, and the roll out of the Australian Government’s Access & Equity and Community Relations Strategies resulted in what many have described as the ‘Golden Years of Multiculturalism’. As the Regional Coordinator
for South Australia, Tina was responsible for implementing these strategic initiatives on the ground and for consulting widely with all sectors of the South Australian community. This included establishing and chairing the Commonwealth Agencies Access and Equity Network to oversee the implementation of departmental Access and Equity Plans.

In 1989, Tina was awarded an Australia Day Achievement Medallion by the Australia Council for her contribution to the work of OMA and for her service to South Australia’s multicultural communities. In her voluntary capacity, Tina has held the positions of Senior Deputy Chair with the Federation of Ethnic Communities Councils of Australia (FECCA) and National Chair of Welcome to Australia.

Maria Dnistrjanski (OAM)
Maria Dnistrjanski OAM manages the Commonwealth Home Support Program, providing home support services for elderly Ukrainian men and women. In 1990, Maria was awarded an OAM for her Outstanding Contribution in the Ukrainian Community and in 2014 was a recipient of The Governor’s Multicultural Awards for Senior Volunteer.

Maria continues to have extensive involvement with a large number of Ukrainian based community organisations, some for more than 40 years of voluntary community service. She serves on the management committee for the Association of Ukrainians in SA, the Seaton Aged Care Facility, the Ukrainian Senior Citizens Club in SA and the Ukrainian Community Radio Committee of SA.

She also volunteers with several community programs, including the Multicultural Communities Council of SA ‘community visitor scheme’, the migration committee assisting newly arrived immigrants from Ukraine and performs Ukrainian Memories at a Croatian, Ukrainian and Belarusian Residential Care Facility. Other organisations Maria volunteers at includes the Ukrainian Dancing Group, Ukrainian Community School, Ukrainian Youth Association, Ukrainian Catholic churches, Ukrainian Women’s Association and the USC Lion Soccer Club.