On Wednesday 18 January, Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard congratulated forty Australians who have been recognised for their outstanding work in building strong and cohesive local communities. Among them was Mr Lawrence Dimech, a prominent Maltese personality from Sydney. The Maltese Community Council of Victoria congratulates Mr Dimech on his appointment.
Australians were encouraged to nominate inspirational people who have helped to build bridges, promote inclusion and strengthen ties in their communities. The forty local champions were independently selected as the new People of Australia ambassadors following hundreds of nominations from the public.
The ambassador program is a key initiative of the Gillard Labor Government’s multicultural policy, The People of Australia, announced on 22 August 2011 at Parliament House in Canberra. The ambassadors have a new platform to promote their good work and share their ideas and initiatives that can help inspire others. “Those chosen are a who’s who of ethnic affairs in Australia” said a spokesperson for the Dept of Immigration and Citizenship.
The Gillard Government recognises good work that is happening in our communities and that good work deserves to be championed at the national level. The new ambassadors will be able to provide advice to government and the Australian Multicultural Council if they wish. Their contributions will help assist and strengthen the government’s multicultural policy.
The ambassadors have been recognised for the real impact they are having on the lives of many Australians – from bringing kids together through sport, to helping small business owners from diverse backgrounds get up and running. The inaugural ambassador program speaks to the strength of Australian communities and their capacity as a nation to welcome people and make them feel part of them. The 2012 ambassadors’ one-year term ends on 30 December 2012.
Lawrence Dimech OAM JP from Greystanes, NSW, said that it was indeed an honour and a privilege to be recognized as he has “worked tirelessly in the area u multiculturalism knowing very well that only together we can build a stronger and more cohesive nation”.
The People of Australia Ambassador Programme is part of the Australian Multicultural Council whose priorities are covered in its terms of reference, namely:
- advise the government on multicultural affairs
- have a formal role in a strengthened access and equity strategy
- have a research and advisory role around multicultural policy
- assist with cultural diversity celebrations and Harmony Day activities
- implement a ‘People of Australia Ambassadors’ Program to articulate the benefits of, and help celebrate, our multicultural nation.
Lawrence Dimech OAM, J.P. was born in Hamrun Malta and has lived in Sydney, Australia for the last 58 years. He is married to Marlene Meli. They have two sons, Mark and Matthew and six grandchildren. He was appointed by the Malta Government as its representative in NSW for a period of eleven years. He served as Migration Attache’, Consul and as the first Consul General in NSW. He was also the founder-editor of the Maltese Herald, the national Maltese weekly newspaper in Australia and has been an editorial consultant since 1961 and is regarded as the pioneer of Maltese print journalism in Australia.
Mr Dimech one of the founders of the Parramatta Melita Eagles Football Club, one of the leading soccer clubs in Australia, and served as Secretary and President. He was presented with a Special Award by the NSW Soccer Federation in 1998 for outstanding services. He worked in Malta with Il-Berqa/Times of Malta, daily newspapers as senior sub-editor. He was Director/Co-Ordinator of the first Migrant Resource Centre in Australia run by the Federal Government. Executive Office, Department of Immigration and Ethnic Affairs.
Mr Dimech was awarded the HMQ Silver Jubilee Medal for services to the community and the Manoel de Vilhena Award and the Maltese Cultural Award for his contribution to Maltese journalism in Australia. He is the author of a research study “The Ageing Maltese – a minefield of need and neglect”, editor of the Maltese Resource Directory and the Maltese Community Directory and author of two sell out books about Maltese migration to Australia “Telqu ghal ghonq it-Triq”.
Mr Dimech was a broadcaster with SBS Radio and a representative in Australia for the Institute of Maltese Journalists (IMJ) and the Union Press Publications (Malta).He is a prolific writer on migration affairs and a regular contributor to The Times, l-orizzont, it-Torċa, and the electronic website allmalta.com.
He was appointed Assistant Attaché with the Maltese contingent at the Sydney Olympic Games 2000 and marched in the opening and closing ceremonies. He served as Officer i/c Blacktown’s NSW office of the Bank of Valletta.
Mr Dimech was awarded the Order of Australia (OAM) in January 2003 for this contribution to the Maltese community. He served for many years as President and Secretary with the Parramatta, Holroyd, Baulkham Hills Migrants Resource Centre and the CALD Committee of the Holroyd City Council. he is at present Vice President of the Maltese Community Council of NSW, Past Pupils of Don Bosco, teacher with the Maltese Language School of NSW and President of the Maltese Welfare (NSW) Inc.