Chairperson: Miriam Cocking
Miriam was a school teacher before arriving in SA in 1981. Miriam has been associated with the MCCSA since 1983 and has been the Chairperson since 2015
In 1981 she was enlisted as SA’s 600th skilled migrant from the Philippines, which has since grown to more than 12,000.
“At first I felt homesick and looked for opportunities to meet people and contribute to society by volunteering to make a difference in peoples’ lives,” she said.
Her volunteering with different non-government agencies expanded immensely to different areas including, fundraising, supporting and mentoring other migrant women to find jobs, supporting and protecting women and children who experienced domestic violence.
Miriam believes that all people regardless of where they came from should have an equitable access to resources and for the MCCSA to advocate for more focused and appropriate services for new and emerging and established CALD communities. Advocacy is only a part of the MCCSA role, it supports wider CALD communities to be productive citizens in their adoptive land, she said.
Miriam believes that the MCCSA is professionally equipped, has strong connection to ethnic communities and has the capacity to grow to fully service and support the communities it serves. Currently the MCCSA delivers a range of services including: volunteering, employment readiness, social support, transport, capacity building, volunteer placement for international students, skilled migrants and tertiary student placement, early childhood programs and facility usage.
Miriam said, “The MCCSA’s Gilbert St premises is a HUB for communities who have no formal infrastructure support and its facility continues to be in high demand. Diverse community usage of our facility enables communities to organically intersect with one another developing greater intercultural understanding of each other.”
On a personal level Miriam says that “by joining the MCCSA years ago it assisted her in navigating the local system which enabled her to integrate into the South Australian community”. As a result she shares her experiences with other migrants assisting them to settle in their new adopted homeland.
Deputy Chairperson: Dr Ian Harmstorf OAM
Born and raised in Adelaide, Ian is a third-generation German after his grandfather migrated to Australia in October 1882. He however moved to Germany between 1960 and 1967 as he felt he ‘did not fit in’ by the local community; he did not feel comfortable with his German name as he was a target for abuse as during his school days Australia was at war with Germany.
“I was influenced by the ill-treatment by fellow Australians during my school days in the second world war and this shaped my future,” he said.
“SA has proportionately three times as many people of German descent than any other Australian state and their vilification during the war left many deep scares.
“The contribution of Germans to SA society had been swept under the carpet during the world wars including the changing of 69 SA German placenames.”
This lead him on a journey to search for his German roots in north Hamburg, where he taught English. On returning to Australia he received an MA on his work on German migration to SA from Hamburg and in 1987 he completed a PhD looking at the assimilation of Germans in SA.
Languages teach culture as well as language, he said. Organisations such as the MCCSA, whom he has been a member since 1999, have an impact on the wider Australian perspective; more people of Anglo background are often not aware of the contributions of non-English speaking persons and background.
A long-term contributor in the field of ethnic affairs, both in the academic and administration aspects, he has widely published on migration and multicultural positions in SA. He is a respected authority on the German contribution to SA and has lectured at The University of Adelaide, and taught overseas including United Kingdom, Italy and Germany, including the American Air Force School System, in Germany.
Ian was awarded the BVK, the German Order of Merit for his contribution to German-Australian understanding. He is currently the vice Chairman of the MCCSA and Chairman of the German Speaking Aged Care Services. Ian has previously been President of the SA German Association, Chair of the School for the German Language and a member of the Multicultural Education Coordinating Committee.
Treasurer: Silvio Iadarola
Silvio, who was just 7 years old when he arrived in Australia from Campania, Italy, says mainstream Australia is now a blend of cultures as we are all migrants.
Bringing people together is important and especially within the health care industry, he said. Silvio, his mother and older sister arrived in Australia 5 years after his father as he could not afford to buy airline tickets for the entire family. He worked tirelessly at Holden’s car factory to bring his family here.
“My aim through the MCCSA is to highlight the importance of health and to see the equality for all in accessing mental health services which is language, culture and linguistic appropriate,” he said.
Silvio has a wealth of knowledge in this area having experience on the board of Bene Aged Care and on the board of the Coordinating Italian Committee of the Italian community volunteers.
“A separate unit needs to be set up to deal with multicultural issues to focus and work as a cohesive team,” he said.
As a former nurse and mental health care professional, he aims to highlight the importance of needing to establish a multicultural hub in the psychiatric unit of hospitals – a transcultural mental health unit for mental health patience.
“This service would help people who have suffered from cultural change and trauma from war-torn countries,” he said.
“The unit should have health professionals who are linguistic appropriate and integrate with mainstream services.”
Multicultural Health Units have been proven to assist with decreasing the pressure on mainstream services as they offer programs appropriate for CALD communities.
“There are already people in the workforce who are bilingual, so this service would simply encourage them to do interpreting and they would get a small payment for it, just as First Aid Officers,” he said.
“This is a human rights issue and we need to keep up with the way we treat people.”
Malgorzata (Gosia) Skalban OAM
A Polish migrant who arrived in Australia in 1968, Gosia has spent many years offering her experience and skills in multicultural community work, specifically within the aged care industry.
With an extensive higher education background – with a Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Social Administration and a Master of Business Administration – Gosia has served on a range of community and state government committees and is now employed with RDNS SA Dom Care part of the Silver Chain Group as a Multicultural Consultant.
One of her achievements was to set up a link and advocacy service in the metropolitan area, Whyalla and Riverland. Aside from the aged care industry work, Gosia has also worked with refugees and domestic violence victims.
Within her own Polish community, Gosia has been actively involved for decades and is currently the President of the Polish Women’s Association of SA, a member of the Dozynki Harvest Festival and Polish Hill River Church Museum. Aside from her involvement in the Polish community, Gosia is also on the Council for Women of Diverse Cultural Backgrounds and was a member of SA Multicultural and Ethnic Affairs Commission for 14 years.
“I want to give back to the community, my experience, knowledge and expertise . Whether we are Asian, European, non-Christian we all have the same humanity and all of us need to link and integrate,” she said.
“When I was growing up in pre-multiculturalism culture it was assimilation. I was forced to Anglo-Saxonise my name and that is how I became Margaret.”
Gosia is on the MCCSA Board with the determination to contribute her knowledge to enrich the future so the bad experiences of the past are not repeated.
“We have a new stream of migrants and it will be ongoing if we are to grow as a nation. We need to assist new arrivals to feel part of mainstream society,” she said.
“We need more educational programs to have a cultural exchange amongst our existing communities,” she said.
“Cultural awareness will end stereotypes and negativities in our diverse communities and we need to have diversity in all workplaces and to reflect our population in all spheres.
“We need a leap not a step and it must become mandatory to acknowledge the benefit of diversity by having diversity in the workforce.”
Gosia’s hard work has been acknowledged and the Polish Government awarded her the Gold Cross for services to the Polish community in 2000. In 2009 she received the Commander’s Cross of the Order of Merit of the Republic of Poland for services to the Polish community.
The Australian Government also recognised her hard work and in June 2005 she was awarded an OAM for services to the community.
A lover of travel and exploring new cultures, Lenard Sciancalepore is studying a Bachelor of Languages and a Bachelor of International Development at The University of Adelaide to better appreciate global diversity of the world we live in, and make a tangible difference in the lives of others.
“I have a deep passion for human rights advocacy through mixing with a range of people, mainly migrants who have made Australia colourful and exciting,” he said.
“I enjoy community engagement and interculturalism. I was co-opted onto the MCCSA board along with being involved in Rotary, Rotaract, and previously with the UN Association of Australia (UNAA) as Peace Representative (SA Division).”
“I joined the MCCSA as I see immense value in bringing people together to better understand perspectives and how different people think, and to demonstrate how positive collaborations can effect meaningful change,” he said.
Thankful for the support provided by the MCCSA, Lenard would like to see the annual signature charity fundraiser of the Adelaide University Rotaract Club, Cultural Night, continue to grow in size and community impact. It’s a positive expression of peace, belonging, and identity which is very much needed in the current political climate, Lenard said.
Coming from a second-generation Southern Italian family, Lenard says he understands how it can feel to be disconnected from one’s cultural background.
“This is very much the case with many young people across Adelaide, which results in a lower sense of belonging, identity, confidence and participation in society as a whole,” he said.
Through the MCCSA, he aims to assist in providing opportunities and initiatives which allows Adelaide’s young people to reconnect with their traditions, language and heritage.
An avid volunteer, Lenard has become involved with and supported initiatives across South Australia including TEDx Adelaide, the Salvation Army, Multicultural Youth SA, the Zahra Foundation, and Shelterbox Australia.
Lenard is also volunteering his time in advisory roles with various non-government organisations including the Children’s Welfare and Opportunity Network (CWON), PAN South Sudan, Amicus Global, and Roma World United.
Lenard has frequently travelled to Nepal, by hiking on mountainous treks to remote indigenous villages and running programs to assist local people in finding ways of self-help.
His favourite quote is from the late Nelson Mandela: “If you speak to a man in a language that he understands, that goes to his head. If you speak to a man in his language, that goes to his heart.”
Lenard says: “Language is more than just a means of communicating with people, it’s a form of connection that speaks volumes of the human spirit”.
Lenard’s long-term goal is to work with the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights in securing and protecting the rights of minority languages of oppressed and displaced ethnic groups.
In the meantime, Lenard will be focusing on building connections of Adelaide’s multicultural youth to programs of the MCCSA.
Arriving in Australia in 2012 as a skilled migrant, Rajendra Pandey instantly got busy volunteering with St John Ambulance and local council.
He wanted to make a difference in his new homeland and use his skills gained from working for the Australian Government, between 2005 and 2012, as Team Leader in the Department of Immigration and Border Protection, which has an office within the Australian High Commission in New Delhi.
“I identified the need for improving coordination between community organisations and took up the position of state president of Vishva Hindu Parishad of Australia Inc. (World Hindu Council of Australia),” he said.
Rajendra is busy with serving as a Lieutenant in the Australian Army Reserves, Area Manager with St John Ambulance SA, working as a professional accountant and auditor, President of the Vishva Hindu Parishad of Australia Inc. (SA) and Convenor of the, Hindu Organisations Temples and Associations (HOTA) Forum.
Aside from now being a public servant in South Australian as a contract management and compliance specialist, Rajendra joined the MCCSA as he is committed to helping women and children and young families migrate to Australia and to fulfil their “full potential”.
“I am passionate about bringing various ethnic communities together so that they can collectively contribute to a stronger Australia,” he said.
Contributing to society is what Nasir Hussain is committed to doing. Making Australia his new homeland in 2007, he is also volunteering as the President of the Muslim Australian Connections of SA (MACSA) and has been the Secretary with the Pakistani Australian Association of SA. He has also volunteered for many more projects including for Baptist Care, Red Cross ‘You are not alone’ project, the Positive Change Movement project with PEACE Multicultural Services and the Sturt Street Community School Governing Council.
“I believe in sharing my blessings and giving back to the community. I get involved in community projects for the benefit of the wider community, to promote the positive image of the Pakistani community and break the stereotype barriers, misconceptions and to improve social cohesion,” he said.
Mr Hussain works at the Department of Child Protection and has also completed a Master of Social Work degree from Flinders University, whereby he has extensive experience and education to identify the issues impacting migrant families.
Programs regarding mental health, domestic violence, aged care and youth are important in bringing communities together. All migrants have similar issues to deal with. “We need to gather information by networking together then speak with the decision-makers to ensure we contribute to policy building.” he said.
“Mental health and suicide prevention are big issues and it is important for leaders to understand this and to encourage a sense of belonging and contributing throughout the Australian community.”
New skilled migrants who are on temporary (TR) visas are not entitled to Medicare benefits, childcare assistance, unemployment assistance or any other benefits. They receive their visas because they have the qualifications and the skill Australia needs yet when they arrive the reality of finding employment is not so straight forward.” Mr Hussain said.
I am offering my time to MCCSA as migrant issues can be very complicated, needing ongoing support and assistance. I believe MCCSA provides that support which helps them cope with their challenges in settling into their new homeland and to flourish within their communities and into the wider society.
“Mental health and suicide prevention are the big issues and it is important for leaders to understand this and to encourage a sense of belonging and contributing to the Australian community.”
New migrants who are on temporary visas have no Medicare benefits, no childcare assistance, no unemployment assistance and public schools cost the more, Mr Hussain said.
I am offering my time to the MCCSA as migrant issues are very complicated and they need ongoing support and an agency to assist migrants. I believe the MCCSA is that support which helps them cope with their challenges in settling into their new homeland.
Born and raised in Chile, South America, Eduardo Donoso migrated to Australia in the 80’s under the Australian – UN Humanitarian Program as a Political Refugee and spent his early years in Whyalla – Upper Spencer Gulf.
Prior to his arrival in Australia, Eduardo completed his High School in Minnesota, USA and studied Oceanography at the Catholic University of Valparaiso – Chile. Upon his arrival over thirty years ago, Eduardo made use of the opportunities that Australia had to offer. He obtained a Bachelor of Industrial Engineering and an Associate Diploma of Mechanical Engineering with Associate Studies in Welding and Joining Engineering. Since completion of his studies, he has worked as an Engineer in Mining, Defence, and the Maintenance Service Industries.
“My extensive career has allowed me to develop and refine my skillset to communicate and build relationships at all levels from small to large companies and organisations, through to Governments and its related entities. I develop strategies for meeting their needs and work with industry participants to provide safe, quality, and cost-effective services”.
Serving as board member of MCCSA is just one of the many roles Eduardo performs in South Australia. He is / was also a Member of the Regional Development Board – Whyalla & Eyre Peninsula Inc. (Federal Government – Individual Appointment), a Member of the Australian Institute of Company Directors, was a Member of the Aboriginal Employment Cluster, Fellow/Member/Council Member of Ai Group Business Council for SA, Member of the Advisory Committee to the Industry Capability Network of SA and Past-President of the Australia Chile Chamber of Commerce.
Eduardo will use his experience to build relationships, contributing to the growth of South Australia’s multicultural community organisations. His numerous engagements both nationally and internationally within the corporate sector have given Eduardo a broader insight into the norms and cultures of people from different parts of the globe. This ranges from the Americas and Europe through to the whole of Asia Pacific and the Middle East.
“Cultural acceptance and modesty have been the most important tools contributing to my success in business and other engagements. I believe now is the time for me to use my knowledge and experience to support our Culturally and Linguistically Diverse communities in SA.
I consider myself a citizen of earth more than of a particular nation. I believe that as human beings we hold the power to create change for the better. People and Communities are the center of this so-called universe. If we all do the right things for each other, without clouding our activities focusing on personal gain, then I am sure that as community we can do great things with sustainable outcomes.
I believe in empowering the youth and supporting the elderly. Creating a powerful environment for socializing and networking is the beginning of good ideas and great outcomes”.
Having a nursing, events management and aged care background for over 30 years has given Patrizia insight into what diverse communities need for cultural and language appropriate services.
People need to be empowered and some are not articulate in their own language so knowledge and background of culture is needed to allow people to have choices. Many elderly needing aged care services want to stay home and there are home care packages which encourage this, so culture is a must and language is also important to have choice and be empowered.
Patrizia joined the MCCSA board as she saw the need for people to have appropriate resources to make decisions and choices about lifestyle and the need for culture and language.
She understands the complexity and experience of the migration process on a personal level as she migrated to Australia from Italy with her parents at a young age but felt she did not feel part of the community and moved back to Italy as a young adult.
Patrizia returning to Australia, after living in Rome for three years, with an understanding of the power of advocacy and acknowledging that information and knowledge is power, as it encourages an individual to make choices and to enrich the diverse Australian community.
It is this level of personal experience which puts Patrizia in a position to promote and advocate information which is uniquely ‘culturally and linguistically’ necessary.
“I encourage and support advocating in specific languages to have the messages delivered in a culturally appropriate way,” she said.
Integration is important and not assimilation, whereby culture and history are not lost, and Australia becomes a richer nation. Through MCCSA she hopes to advocate for the community to be more integrated to add further value to our nation.
Patrizia said: “I would like to see decision-makers embrace full participation within the diverse communities in social, economic and cultural lifestyles. Understanding culture and language removes barriers and allows us to integrate.”
Suren Edgar is one of the co-founders of ARTA Cultural Centre. He has always been interested in different cultures, their effects on each other, maintaining cultures and introducing them to the multicultural society of Australia to enhance mutual understanding among different generations.
As a proactive board member of an Iranian nonprofit organisation in Adelaide for more than seven years, Suren coordinated and initiated many cultural events to support community members and enhance their social inclusion.
Suren received an Appreciation Award from the Assistant Minister to the Premier, the Hon Jing Lee in 2019 for his contribution in the Silk Road Caravanserai Concert in which 60 artists from more than 20 community groups participated.
Suren is an electrical engineer and project manager who established “Delight Electrical” company in Adelaide in 2016. He has a Bachelor of Electrotechnic Engineering from Azad University and Electrotechnology from Victoria University.