HOW WE GOT TO WHERE WE ARE NOW


July 2003

Written By: CARMEN GARCIA
PRESS RELATIONS OFFICER

Most community members are aware of the establishment of the Filipino Settlement Co-ordinating Council of South Australia, and in fact many of us were actively involved in its fruition. But it’s the reason how it all began that seems to be missing and there are a few gaps we need to fill in. Many remarks I have received have been “who cares how it’s happened but finally it has”. As the Press Relations Officer, my role is to ensure everyone is well informed and fortunately having been involved from the very beginning gives me a clear and concise view of what actually happened and how we got to where we are now.

The aim of the FSCC is to take on the management of the current Filipino Community Settlement Services Program in SA, a program that has been successfully managed by the MRC for many years producing some of the Filipino community’s devoted workers including Joan Dicka, Cynthia Caird, and Regina Betts, through their work with the Filipino program. We have witnessed many milestones including case management, establishment of the various organizations covering the needs of women, youth, aged, employment and recreation to name a few. However, our program remained under the wing of MRC whose guidance and mentorship contributed to the success of the program. Similar to many other communities, it is time for us to be accountable for our own program, well at least that is what the Hon Gary Hardgrave MP, Minister for Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs thought, that it was time the Filipino Cmmunity of SA managed their own program.

As the Filipino Youth representative of the Filipino Advisory Committee at the Migrant Resource Centre, I was present when Eugenia Tsoulis, Executive Director of Migrant Resource Centre of South Australia, advised the Filipino Advisory Committee of the correspondence between Minister Hardgrave’s department, DIMIA and MRCSA in relation to the Filipino Community Services Program. We were told that the Federal Minister was encouraging the Filipino Community to self-manage their affairs and more particularly the program, as MRCSA would no longer be applying for the funding of the Community Settlement Services Scheme (CSSS) on our behalf. We were also told that in order to be fair and democratic to the Filipino community at large, we needed to enter into consultation to ascertain the wishes of the Filipino community in the way in which we would move forward.

Under the guidance of Eugenia Tsoulis and MRCSA, a working committee was formed consisting of Miriam Cocking (FILCCOSA) Dante Juanta (Community Leader) and myself (Filipino Youth Leader) to produce a survey that would be distributed to all the Filipino organsations in SA, as well as individuals and key stakeholders. The survey passed through many hands including MRCSA and the entire Filipino Advisory Committee. It was also pilot tested prior to the distribution in October during a consultation where we explained the survey to Filipino community members and community organisations.

The survey’s distribution was monitored by the CSS worker, Regina Betts, to ensure each Filipino community organization was given an opportunity to express their opinions and a due date was set in order to collate the results. MRCSA engaged and independent party to tabulate the results and among other statistics, obtained a clear indication that preference was given to the option to establish a NEW coordinating body in the Filipino community to manage the Filipino Community Settlement Services in SA with 58.1%. No other option was substantially supported in comparison to this one.

The Filipino community was eager to participate in this process and the results spoke for themselves that what was in the past is history and now we wanted to establish a new future for our community with a clean slate. This was demonstrated through the will of the community to form a new coordinating body – a body that would represent all organizations with an executive committee consisting of their elected representatives to ensure the program will truly be reflective of the Filipino community at large. This option was that of the people, it was democratically ascertained that a New independent coordinating body was to be established, and it is what the Filipinos in SA chose rather than utilise an already existing organisation.

This is how YOUR Filipino Settlement Coordinating Council of South Australia, Inc (FSCC) was formed and I am confident to say it went through a democratic process, as fas the official definition of the term states. I must admit this process like any other was full of obstacles and adversities. Fortunately, I had the opportunity to witness some of our community leaders come together, too many to mention but we all know who they are, and they remained focused on the task at hand with a tight deadline for applying to the Federal grant through the CSSS. It was only through the enthusiasm, dedication, persistence and vision of these community leaders that have brought us, our Filipino community to where we are now.

 

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