The Ethnic Communities Council of Victoria (ECCV) celebrated its 50th anniversary at Parliament House last Monday, a milestone for the Victorian representative of migrants and refugees. Over 130 guests gathered in the Queen’s Hall to reflect on ECCV’s role over the past half-century.

There was a significant Greek contingent in attendance at the celebration, most notably the ECCV co-founder George Papadopoulos.Papadopoulos, a lawyer, became deeply involved in social welfare issues. He co-founded the Australian Greek Welfare Society and played an instrumental role in numerous ethnic institutions. Recognised for his contributions to multicultural policy development, he has held key positions, including Chair of the Victorian Multicultural Commission and Chair of Multicultural Arts Victoria. In his speech, Papadopoulos expressed pride in seeing ECCV “survive and flourish in its mission to advocate for the rights and interests of Victoria’s diverse communities”.

ECCV Co-founder George Papadopoulos and wife Melody. Photo: Supplied

Voula Messimeri, former CEO of the Australian Greek Welfare Organisation (now PRONIA), who has a long association with ECCV, was the MC for the event. Last year, she was honoured with a Life Membership in recognition of her dedication and service.

The celebration featured addresses from several notable speakers.

Minister for Multicultural Affairs Ingrid Stitt praised ECCV as a “bastion of strength for multicultural and multi faith communities” and acknowledged its crucial role in advocating for harmony and social cohesion across Victoria. Leader of the Opposition and Shadow Minister for Multicultural Affairs John Pesutto MP echoed those principles as a son of immigrants himself.

ECCV CEO Mo Elrafihi echoed these sentiments, highlighting the significance of Rueben Berg’s presence as illustrative of ECCV’s commitment to strengthening engagement between multicultural and First Nations communities.

Voula Messimeri, Voula Messimeri, former CEO of the Australian Greek Welfare Organisation George Papadopoulos co-founder and Eddie Micallef chair of the ECCV. Photo: Supplied

Former Victorian Premier and ECCV patron Steve Bracks AC addressed guests in a video message, expressing pride in delivering landmark reforms during his tenure that ECCV had advocated for, including Victoria’s first Multicultural Act.

The event was attended by leaders from various ethnic communities’ councils across Australia, including Federation of Ethnic Communities Councils of Australia Chairperson and former Victorian minister Carlo Carli and Ethnic Communities Council of NSW Chairperson Peter Doukas OAM.

Others included VMC and ECCV Chair George Lekakis, Greek Community of Melbourne President Bill Papastergiadis, Mike Zafiropoulos, Theo Theophanous and Lee Tarlamis MP.

In celebration of its 50th anniversary, ECCV is producing a digital exhibition, which will be launched in the latter half of 2024, to commemorate its rich history and ongoing contributions to multiculturalism in Victoria further.