After the launch of the Springvale Street Marker an afternoon tea was held at the Springvale Neighbourhood House to celebrate all that had been achieved. Merle Mitchell spoke about the history of the project: Today we celebrate the achievements of a project which began as a small community project and grew into a project of national significance
It was staff at the Department Of Immigration who first used that description
It started in November 2007 when the Melbourne Immigration Museum called for expressions of interest to develop an exhibition for their Community Gallery. We put in a submission and were thrilled when it was one of three submissions selected. I remember the briefing session at the Museum so well. We wanted an exhibition with a difference and had lots of wild ideas which at the time frustrated the Museum staff. ‘Focus on the words you want for the information panels on the walls’ we were told. But we were not ones to let good ideas go so we eventually had a video made by a professional film maker, Eileen Wright, which is playing today, glass cases of artefacts, an A3 size album of photos of Enterprise and another with all the stories which had been written by residents and workers. The exhibition was so good the Museum kept it open for 5 months. Then it came to Springvale for a further three.
We planned a short term project but it took on a life of its own. As you came in today you would have seen the list of our achievements but none of them would have happened without the support of many people, some of whom are here today
Firstly it was the support of the Enterprise residents and workers who responded to our call for help to get the information we needed for the exhibition. You recognised the importance of your experience and the role that Enterprise had played in your lives. We were overwhelmed by your response.
The support of the City of Greater Dandenong has been invaluable. John Bennie’s strong belief in the importance of preserving and learning from history, and his deep understanding of what we were doing has been wonderful.
Grissel Walmaggia from the City of Greater Dandenong has been our inspiration, our guiding light, our rock. She encouraged us to think creatively, to believe that nothing was impossible, and she helped in so many practical ways too.
We have worked closely with Christine Smitten and staff from Lexington Gardens. Starting with the website they have hosted launches and all the consultations we held. For many people the attachment to the site is still very strong and we thank Christine for her warm interest and co-operation which enabled people to retain that attachment.
Some of our early support came from the Victorian Multicultural Commission. George Lekakis and later Hakan Akyol saw the value in what we were
doing and encouraged us to apply for financial support, starting with the funding of the website. Sandy Kouroupidis from Solid Strategies developed
this wonderful comprehensive website for us and we are grateful for the volunteer work of David who has, since early 2017, continued to update
After we launched the website the community demanded a commemorative physical ‘something’ but what ‘the something’ was to be was unclear. We needed funding to do a consultation and the former Department of Planning and Community Development responded very quickly to our cry for help and gave us the funding we needed.
We needed to employ consultants. Grissel introduced us to Phin Sinatra and Jim Murphy. What a gift that was. Their highly skilled consultations led to the I’m Home report and everything that has flowed from that – the naming of the rose, the Tribute Garden at Lexington Gardens, the wonderful Enterprise Trail.
It was time for a promotional video. Mark Wilson who has taken so many photos at our various launches agreed to make it. The response from the high profile people who we approached to speak in support of the project was extraordinary. To name just a few – the Late Malcolm Fraser, the late Joan Kirner, Jon Faine, Geoffrey London, then the Victorian architect, Jose Alvarez, then the State Director of Immigration. We did not receive one rejection from all our approaches and the video which can be seen on the website has been invaluable.
The Tribute Garden is magnificent but raising the money for it was a challenge. I received a phone call came from the Victorian Multicultural Commission. ‘We will give $50,000 if you can raise another $50,000 in 2 weeks’ a voice said at the end of the phone’. What a challenge. Thanks to former residents and workers, community organisations such as AMES, the Neighbourhood House we met the deadline.
Today we have witnessed the almost completion of the Enterprise Trail which has been funded by the City of Greater Dandenong. The hosting of each of the launches has demonstrated how important this story is for the community. Great launches were hosted by the Springvale Rise Primary School, Centrelink, the Springvale Neighbourhood House and at South East Community Links (formerly Springvale Community Aid and Advice Bureau)
But we have not quite finished. The Trail will end at the Springvale Community Precinct, the plans for which are on display today. We called for an architect’s competition to help select the architects for the development. When we heard that one was to be held we wrote a document which was included in the competition brief. We have met with representatives from Lyons, the firm which was awarded the contract and discussed our ideas with them.
Our dream, and we have had lots of them over the years is that on completion we will have a huge community walk from Lexington Gardens to the Community precinct. May this dream, like the others, also come true.
Finally I want to thank our auspice body, the Neighbourhood House. You have all been fantastic. We have had the privilege of remaining as we started – a group of friends with a passion who just ‘got on with it’ without being weighed down with paper work and formalities
Thank you everyone and enjoy the afternoon.
Phil Reed the MC for the day then invited people to speak about their time at Enterprise and a number of them did so.