NEWS Radio 3ZZZ, the largest ethnic community station in Australia Radio broadcasting from Melbourne, celebrated its 25th anniversary with a multicultural concert and book launch on Sunday 6 July 2014 held in the hall of Alphington Grammar in Alphington.
Among the distinguished guests present were: the Hon. Inga Peulich MLC, Cabinet Secretary representing the Premier of Victoria; the Hon Jenny Mikakos MLC, Shadow Minister for Community Services representing the Leader of the Opposition; Councillor Trent McCarthy, representing the Leader of the Victorian Greens; Mr Peter Bachelor, President of the Community Broadcasting Foundation; Ms Marion Lau, Member of the Victorian Multicultural Commission; and Mr Eddie Micallef, Chairperson of the Ethnic Communities Council of Victoria (ECCV).
The second revised edition of the book titled From 3ZZ to 3ZZZ – A Short History of Ethnic Broadcasting in Australia was launched by MCCV Vice President and former ECCV Chairperson Mr Victor Borg, who was one of the pioneers and trailblazers in community radio as a foundation member of the original Radio 3ZZ in 1975 and in the establishment of Radio 3ZZZ in 1989.
The participants in the multicultural concert entertaining the audience included the Harmonico Filipino Choir, the Mir Kumen On Melbourne Yiddish Choir, the Laotian Hmong Dance Group, the Indonesian Sanggar Lestari Dance Group, the German Accordion Accents Ensemble, the Mauritian Fiesta Kreol Dance Group, Solo Flamenco Guitarist John Poulianakis, the Colombian La Cambiamba Dance Group, Samoan singer/songwriter Raerae, the Croatian HKUD “LADO” Dance Group and the Greek GOCMV Dance Group.
Radio 3ZZZ President Mr George Salloum gave a warm welcome to the large audience present consisting of language program co-ordinators and broadcasters from a broad cross-section of ethnic groups as well as staff and friends of 3ZZZ.
Mr Salloum said that, continuing with the philosophy of giving non-English speaking communities broadcasting access, Radio 3ZZZ is one of the greatest achievements of Melbourne’s ethnic communities resulting from the hard work and commitment of thousands of volunteers from all ethnic groups. “The majority of these volunteers are leaders in their own communities who know and feel the pulse and needs of our diverse nation,” he said.
Radio 3ZZZ broadcasters provide important the local community and overseas listeners with wide-ranging information about settlement, government services, health services, employment, education and, more importantly, provides encouragement to become involved in Australian affairs.
Mr Salloum said that over the last 25 years the station has accumulated a wealth of broadcasting experience and other human and material resources. Radio 3ZZZ will soon be moving to its own new studios with state-of-the-art broadcasting facilities in the multicultural suburb of Brunswick.
Mr Salloum said that the station pledges to make full use these new facilities to better serve the communities in the years to come.
Mr Salloum paid a special tribute to the many special people of made Radio 3ZZZ happen, including members, broadcasters, staff, countless community and socio-political leaders and other partners, who provided a wider support base for 3ZZZ ongoing success and growth.
Mr Salloum acknowledged with appreciation the support that has been provided by the federal and state governments as well as many municipalities.
Messages of congratulations
In a very short pre-recorded video message shown on a screen at the concert, the Minister for Communications the Hon Malcolm Turnbull congratulated Radio 3ZZZ on its great achievements over the past 25 years.
On behalf of the State Government the Hon Inga Peulich congratulated Radio 3ZZZ on its 25th Anniversary and 25 years of service and dedication to broadcasting in ethnic languages.
Thanks to multiculturalism Victoria is a very different place to what it was when Ms Peulich arrived here as a 10 year old with her parents and her older brother on the Galileo Galilei from Bosnia and Herzegovina landing at Station Pier late in the 1960s, with four suitcases, no money, no friends and no English … and no dark face in the streets to be seen, she said.
Ms Peulich said that Radio 3ZZZ’s 25th Anniversary marks its rich contribution to multicultural communities. 26 percent of Victorians are born overseas and they are grateful for the opportunity to come here in order to start to rebuild a new life for themselves and their families. She said that her parliamentary career of 18 years illustrates what one can achieve in this great country.
Ms Peulich referred to the state government’s new policy Victoria’s Advantage: Unity Diversity Opportunity, which is the new iteration of a multicultural policy supported by all political parties. The policy encourages every child in primary school to learn a foreign language by 2025. (Click here to download a copy of this policy.)
On behalf of the Victorian Leader of the Opposition, the Hon Jenny Mikakos congratulated its 25th anniversary of public broadcasting. She said that ethnic community broadcasting has been around for almost 40 years and 3ZZZ has played a significant part in its success. It is important that we keep ethnic broadcasting services alive.
Ms Mikakos said that she is proud that her leader, Mr Daniel Andrews, stood by the campaign to save funding to the multicultural community broadcasting recently when the National Commission of Audit recommended scrapping funding to community radio. She said that that support and the community rallying around this issue has saved community broadcasting funding.
Ms Mikakos said that it is important that ethnic radio stations continue on. Radio 3ZZZ is giving a voice to the ethnic communities, helping them to stay connected with what is going on in different levels of government, and providing an independent source of information.
Councillor Trent McCarthy of the Victorian Greens congratulated Radio 3ZZZ for the 25 years of service to the Victorian ethnic community. He said that the history of the station reflects the waves of migration that had taken place in Melbourne, Victoria and Australia.
President of the Community Broadcasting Foundation Mr Peter Bachelor congratulated Radio 3ZZZ for 25 years of fantastic broadcasting. The foundation helps provide some of the funds that put 3ZZZ to air.
Mr Bachelor said that this year it will be providing about $330,000 to the station to pay for the program plants and help subsidise the transmission costs. Over the past 10 years it contributed $2.7 million to 3ZZZ. The foundation, which receives its funds from the federal government, has also supported special information programs, such as, one on asylum seekers, one on citizenship and another on international students, which were played not just in Melbourne but right across Australia.
Mr Bachelor said that over the next 25 years 3ZZZ will need to rise to its new challenges including assisting the new and emerging ethnic groups find time to broadcast in their language on the radio, involving young people in ethnic broadcasting, looking after existing groups particularly as their communities age, dealing with new technology, the internet, podcasting, streaming and making sure that community radio stations show continuing care about issues sometimes not very popular with governments such as about asylum seekers, helping and welcoming them, fighting racism, support for continuing migration.
Representing the Victorian Multicultural Commission, Ms Marion Lau said that congratulated Radio 3ZZZ for 25 years of great services to the multicultural community. Everyone associated with the station have worked hard to encourage respect, harmony and understanding of each other’s communities, all on a voluntary basis.
Ms Lau said that Victoria has a great worldwide reputation as a successful multicultural society. It is the work of Radio 3ZZZ and other organisations like it that have contributed to this success. As individuals, we are all very proud of our backgrounds, our stories, our traditions, our cultures, religions and languages, and it is great to have the opportunity to be able to share this with the rest of Australia, said Ms Lau.
Mr Micallef paid tribute to Mr Walter Lippmann as one of the pioneers of multiculturalism, with whom Mr Micallef had been involved in setting up the Ethnic Affairs Commissions in the early 1980s. Recently there was the fourth Walter Lippmann memorial lecture by Indira Naidoo about asylum seekers and the environment. She was able to passionately bring those two issues together, so much so, that she broke down during the speech when talking about asylum seekers.
One of the things that we need to do is to be open and supportive in acknowledging that asylum seekers have a right to come to this country to seek asylum and we should give them all the support we can rather than be critical as some aspects of the media is saying today, said Mr Micallef to the applause of the audience.
Mr Micallef said that the ECCV is the organisation that develops the stories that is news for 3ZZZ to impart to their listeners. This partnership will continue and later this year, on 18 August, the ECCV will celebrate its 40th anniversary and he invited those present to join in those celebrations.
Mr Borg said that in 1975 the station 3ZZ came together with the help of a number of ABC staff Richard Zoeller, Joan Dugdale, Alex Butler, Richard Brown and others. It was a great experience for the ethnic communities. They grasped at it and felt as if they were wanted and at long last as if they had become members of the true Australian community.
Launching the revised edition of the history of Radio 3ZZZ titled From 3ZZ to 3ZZZ – A Short History of Ethnic Broadcasting in Australia, Mr Victor Borg recalled that he too came to Australia as a young boy in 1955 and knows what it’s like to try and speak another language to your father, mother, brother and sisters. “If you are on a tram, there was every likelihood that you would have been pushed out. And that was the Australia that we came to,” he said.
Mr Borg said that we know today that we have come a very, very long way. We are proud to be Australian, we are proud to help and assist to make this a great nation and we know also that we have an obligation to do so.
He said that “back in the 1970s, there was a huge thrust by people born overseas to try to get access to the radio waves. It is true that there were newspapers that were being published in ethnic languages, but they were not sufficient to really get the message to the people that we represent, people who broke their back working in factories, often in the lowest jobs possible, often moved from one bench to another so that they don’t stand alongside someone from the same country of origin.”
Mr Borg said that the Ethnic Communities Council under the leadership of Walter Lippmann and George Zangalis, as the convenor of the committee for ethnic broadcasts, made a number of representations to government, saying it was high time that there was some equity and justice in the system.
He said that after a number of submissions it was announced that the federal government was to grant two licences, one to Sydney and another to Victoria. The Sydney licence was to be for young people to be entertained with music and other things. The Melbourne licence was granted specifically to provide access to people who had not previously had access and wanted to take part in the whole process.
He said that, if it was not for ethnic broadcasting, many of us would not be able to get the message across to our people, be it matters of work, social security, government regulations or otherwise.
Mr Borg said that all good things face challenges. 3ZZ faced a number of challenges: the government in an attempt to close it down said that it was really doing the same work that Radio 3EA was. They did not grasp the idea that here was free access to anyone who applied. They said that we were duplicating the process and sought to relegate 3ZZ to a similar project as the Sydney one to play music to young people. However, the ethnic communities would not stand for it and in great numbers they protested.
Shortly after Radio 3ZZ opened General Motors Holden sent a letter of complaint that the station was being used for partisan purposes. That was the sort of background that the station was trying to function in. Ultimately the government got its way. Mr Borg recalled taking part in a public demonstration at the Melbourne Town Hall, when the Federal police “took over the station locked us out”.
Mr Borg said that, following this shut down, there were some groups that made an attempt to get some time on Radio 3CR, which imposed some conditions that every program had to include sufficient English content so that people who were not of that language background putting on the show would understand what was going on. They subsequently relented and started off with news in community languages.
Mr Borg said that there was a long wait until 1989 when the ECCV and George Zangalis fought hard to try and get a grant from the 150th Anniversary Board. They put up a proposition to open a new station, Radio 3ZZZ.
He said that the book gives some great details about the trouble and the trauma that people had to go through to ensure that at long last we would be able to continue with the work that had been started with 3ZZ. There had to be a feasibility study, test broadcasts, a transmitter and the state government decided to give the station $170,000 on the understanding that the federal government would be prepared to fund the station.
“After many months Radio 3ZZZ eventuated. And what a great station it has been,” said Mr Borg. “What a great reward to the people of Australia, not just Victoria. It really does you good sometimes to realise that anyone of any background can have an opportunity to join in radio broadcasts. It has brought out communities together and much closer and it has taught us to respect other cultures and to get the message to our people whenever it was needed.”
Mr Borg said that in 1989 Radio 3ZZZ had its first broadcast. It still had to face many challenges, such as, when there was some talk about relegating 3ZZZ and merging them with 3EA. There were difficult financial challenges as all public broadcasting is dependent on government funding, although many of these stations had work on raising some of their funding. Radio 3ZZZ holds a radiothon every year and there are also memberships, and other supporting organisations, bearing in mind that we cannot progress unless resources are available.
Radio 3ZZZ has gone a long way in its resources. From humble beginnings at the ACTU building in the basement, the station moved to Fitzroy and now will be moving to a huge warehouse in Brunswick that will guarantee the future of this station, said Mr Borg.
“It is very difficult sometimes to tolerate criticism. But there are still some within the community who cannot accept that we are not talking about them when we speak another language or hiding something from them and that we are here by way of right the same as everyone is,” he said.
The second part of this book deals specifically with the histories of the broadcasting language groups and it is worth reading through them. It is most impressive to see how long some of these broadcasts have been devoting their time,
Mr Borg said that he believed that this is one of the best and biggest community service exercises that one can actually have. For people who turn up week after week, day after day to produce a program to educate, assist and be of service to their community, the satisfaction that arises from that is something that one never forgets.
Mr Borg urged those present to continue to support the station. “No doubt the station will have other challenges in the future and, when you are aware of these challenges, stand up with a backbone like many do and come and help the organisation,” he said.
Finally, Mr Borg thanked Mr George Zangalis, Mr George Sallloum and others, who work tirelessly in managing Radio 3ZZZ. He thanked the people on the board who meet monthly, all the committees and everyone else who in some way or other has helped 3ZZZ.
Mr Borg urged those present to purchase a copy of the book which really shows that when a community works together the sky is the limit.
About Radio 3ZZZ
Radio 3ZZZ is the largest ethnic community station in Australia. Located at 92.3 on the FM radio band, 3ZZZ started broadcasting on a regular basis in June 1989. Broadcasting 24 hours a day, the station is heard across the Melbourne metropolitan region, with more than 400,000 people listening to 3ZZZ every week. Since October 2000, the station can also be heard across all Australia and the rest of the world through internet broadcasting.
3ZZZ is a community-based radio station, primarily financed by listener subscriptions and donations, through sponsorship, and through special fundraising events including the annual Radiothon. Radio 3ZZZ also receives government funding through the Community Broadcasting Foundation.
There are more than 5,000 financial members from nearly 63 ethnic groups affiliated with the station. All the major ethnic communities living in Melbourne are represented. Up to 400 volunteers broadcast in one of these 70 community languages for and on behalf of their own community.