35 Years of Shaping Culture

On Tuesday 13 February 2024, we hosted a truly memorable event commemorating CMY’s 35 year history, held at the iconic State Library of Victoria. The evening was filled with warmth, inspiration, and an overwhelming sense of community as individuals from all walks of CMY life gathered to celebrate our legacy and ongoing impact.

The stunning Conversation Quarter, within the State Library, buzzed with energy as guests mingled and shared stories, reflecting on CMY’s journey and their connection to the organisation. The evening kicked off with a heartfelt welcome to country from Wurundjeri man, Daniel Ross, whose message set the tone for an evening.

“Why? That three-letter word is so powerful. It leads to who we are and what is next.” 

Daniel Ross, Wurundjeri man 

We can’t thank our guests speakers enough, each bringing their unique perspective and insights to the room. Our incredible MC duo for the evening – CMY Board Director, Asanga Seneviratne, and CMY Youth Consultant and Project Officer, Sherry-Rose Bih Watts, kept the energy high and guests engaged throughout the evening.

CMY CEO & Founder, Carmel Guerra OAM, reflected and shared her upbringing as a migrant girl in Australia, to CMY’s humble beginnings in the 1980s and the evolution to where it is today. CMY has grown into the organisation it is now thanks to her 35 years of service and dedication, and it was a special moment to celebrate both Carmel and the organisation’s milestone.

“For me, it’s most rewarding to see those that face challenges that most of us would not understand and see them succeeding.” – Carmel Guerra OAM, CEO & Founder CMY

“CMY is the pep-talk before the speech.” – Asanga Seneviratne, CMY Board Director

“If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” – Sherry-Rose Bih Watts, CMY Youth Consultant & Project Officer

We are so grateful that Premier of Victoria, the Hon. Jacinta Allan MP, was able to attend and generously shared her support for CMY’s mission and emphasised the importance of diversity and inclusion in building a vibrant society.

Minister for Youth, the Hon. Natalie Suleyman MP, kindly shared words too and her lived experience as a daughter of migrants coming to Australia. She officially launched our new digital history project, history.cmy.net.au, which documents the full CMY journey through audio, film, photography, and written accounts, and showcases the rich history and diverse stories that have shaped CMY. Both speakers’ words resonated deeply with guests, and reaffirmed the significance of CMY’s impact for multicultural young people.

“In 35 years, CMY has supported so many young people and tonight speaks volumes on the organisation you lead, Carmel.” – The Hon. Jacinta Allan MP, Premier of Victoria

“As a young girl going into Prep with no English, I was petrified and it was challenging growing up in the 80s and 90s and I wished that I had that support back then.” – The Hon. Natalie Suleyman MP, Minister for Youth

A highlight of the evening was undoubtedly the special performance by Halo Vocal Ensemble, who lifted the room and got guests moving to their beautiful harmonising to much-loved songs. From Whitney Houston to Chaka Khan, as their voices filled the room it also filled hearts and was a unforgettable and inspiring performance.

As the night drew to a close, CMY Chair of the Board, Bao Hoang, delivered the closing remarks, shared his personal story and why he’s involved in an organisation like CMY. He reflected on the incredible journey of CMY over the past 35 years, reiterating CMY’s unwavering commitment to supporting and empowering multicultural young people.

We couldn’t have a milestone celebration without a cake – Bao invited former Chair, Dr. Hass Dellal AO, Carmel and Minister Natalie Suleyman to the stage for the ceremonial cutting of the cake, which officially concluded the event’s proceedings.

“As we’ve reflected on our 35-year history and working with young people, we also want to take this opportunity to look at now and into the future.” – Bao Hoang, CMY Chair of the Board

Big thanks to everyone involved in the makings of the event and the history website – from past to present, CMY wouldn’t be where it is today without our incredible community working towards the same goal. Special thanks to historian Jennifer Rose, PhD candidate, Institute for Humanities and Social Sciences, Australian Catholic University (ACU) as well as ACU more broadly and the Australian Government Research Training Program Scholarship for making the digital history project possible. Jennifer was integral in the collection of historical content and development of the written, audio and video components of the history website and we cannot thank her enough.

Images credit: Harjono Djoyobisono