Arriving at the Multicultural Hub in Elizabeth Street, opposite the Victorian Market, we were welcomed by our first speaker, Mr Ross (Spiro) Alatsas – Deputy Chairperson and Multicultural Commissioner of the Victorian Multicultural Commission. His current term is 31 August 2013 to 30 August 2017 and he was first appointed on 1 September 2011
Mr Alatsas has a long and impressive history of involvement in the Greek and wider Victorian communities, having been the General Manager of the Greek Media Group since 1997. He has been involved with various committees and advisory councils promoting Victoria’s cultural diversity, including the Steering Committee for the Asian Football League Asian Cup 2015. Mr Alatsas assisted in the establishment of the first 24-hour Chinese Radio station, 3CW and also served as a member of the Business Advisory Council for community television station, C31.
Our second speaker, Ms Kerry Boland, is a United Nations Association of Victoria Board member and a member of the Refugee Status Review Tribunal. She worked as an international consultant with UN agencies in the field of human rights and protection and shared some of her experiences with the group.
Our third speaker, Mr John Hennessey-Niland, Counselor for Political Affairs, U.S. Embassy Canberra (pictured above) was born in Chicago, Illinois and moved at the age of seven to Europe, where he lived for over a decade in the United Kingdom and the Netherlands. He graduated with honours from the International School of Amsterdam in 1982. He received a Bachelor of Arts in International Relations, Magna Cum Laude, from Tufts University in 1985 and a Masters in Law and Diplomacy from the Fletcher School in 1987. He graduated Summa Cum Laude from the International Cycle of the Ecole Nationale d’Administration (ENA) in 2006.
John Hennessey-Niland’s foreign languages are French and Dutch. He is a graduate of numerous specialized courses and is an alumnus of the Brookings Institute Young Leaders program. He has been a guest lecturer at the National Foreign Affairs Training Center, a regular speaker to the Irish Diplomatic Corps new officers program and was a teaching assistant at Tufts University. He is the recipient of several individual and group Superior and Meritorious Honor Awards.
Prior to becoming Political Counselor at the U.S. Embassy in Canberra, he recently served as Foreign Policy Advisor to the Commander, U.S. Marine Corps Forces Pacific and as Counselor at the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad, Pakistan. Mr Hennessey-Niland was the Deputy Chief of Mission and later the Charge D’Affaires at the U.S. Embassy in Dublin, Ireland from 2010 to 2013 and served at the White House at the National Security Council, as Director for the G-8 and G-20, from 2008 to 2010.
Mr Hennessey-Niland entered public service in 1987 as a Presidential Management Intern and joined the U.S. diplomatic corps in 1988. Mr Hennessey-Niland’s first diplomatic assignment was to Paris, France in 1988, where he served in the Consular and Economic sections and as a Staff Aide to the Ambassador. He was acting Consul of the U.S. Consulate in Martinique in the summer of 1989. In 1990, he returned to Washington D.C. to be the Staff Aide to the Assistant Secretary of State for International Organization (IO) Affairs at the time of the first Gulf conflict. In 1991 he was a Desk Officer at the Department of State responsible for IO issues and in 1992 was seconded to the U.S. Organizing Committee of the 1994 FIFA World Cup. He was subsequently assigned to the UN International Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia and later Rwanda, where he was a member of the Prosecutor’s staff. In 1997, he was appointed Head of the Political and Economic Section of the U.S. Embassy in Fiji. While there, he served as Charge a.i. and organized the evacuation of the American community during the 2000 coup d’état. In 2001, he returned to the U.S. and was responsible for trade issues in the Bureau of European Affairs at the State Department. From 2003 to 2005 Mr Hennessey-Niland was the Desk Officer for Danish and Norwegian Affairs and played a leading role in negotiations to establish a new civilian and military relationship between the U.S., Denmark and Greenland. In 2005, Mr Hennessey-Niland was selected to attend France’s Ecole Nationale d’Administration and served afterwards in the economic section at the U.S. Embassy in Paris. Questions and discussion ranged from the USA and Asia-pacific bilateral relationships, leadership lessons and life learnings to the role of an international diplomat.
Our fourth speaker was Mr O’Conroy Doloksaribu, Consul at the Consulate General of the Republic of Indonesia in Melbourne (pictured right), accompanied by Mr Prima Januar Sastrawiria, also Consul at the Consulate General of the Republic of Indonesia in Melbourne.
Mr O’Conroy Doloksaribu’s responsibility is the social and cultural domain and was most informative about the cultural and religious history of Indonesia and the symbolism of famous images like the Garuda bird. Questions ranged from religious symbolism and groups, diplomatic relations and challenges, tourism and opportunities for study grants in Indonesia.
Our fifth speaker was the Honourable Nick Wakeling, MLA, State Member for Ferntree Gully and Shadow Minister for Education. The topics centred on teaching and education and the expertise, knowledge, values and skills required to prepare the next generation. This session was an interactive discussion with the participants asked for their ideas and experiences.
Our sixth speaker was Superintendent Charles Allen, Priority Communities Division (pictured left) based at the Victoria Police Centre in Docklands. He spoke about collaboration and networks and strategies, tools, methods and theories that underpin collaborative networks across sectors. This session was wide-ranging and interactive, with many questions and discussion about challenges, opportunities, strengths and weaknesses and personal skills.
Future Voices would like to thank the speakers for their engaging and motivating presentations and for giving up their valuable time to speak to our group of young people. For many, it was a life-changing moment to hear of such diverse and inspirational experiences.
Future Voices arrived at Government House, Melbourne for a tour of the public rooms and a morning tea in the State dining room. Ms Katie Pahlow, Community Engagement Advisor for the Office of the Governor of Victoria at Government House, gave us a warm and informative tour of many of the rooms, the paintings and architectural features of Government House.
“Shepparton students toured #GovHouseVic #GOVHouse as part of the Future Voices Inc mentoring program helping our regional students to access skills, knowledge ,cross-cultural experiences and their understanding of the importance of vision and commitment.”
Our next stop was Parliament House (pictured above), where we assembled for a tour of the building and information about parliament and its history. We were joined by Wendy Lovell MP Member for Northern Victoria Region, who said:
I hope they all enjoyed their visit and learning about how Parliament works.
Our beautiful Parliament House, is open to the public Monday to Friday each week and is well worth a visit. Tours are operated every hour on non-sitting days.”
Our last stop was the Melbourne Zoo, where we received complimentary entry.
The Royal Melbourne Zoological Gardens, commonly known as the Melbourne Zoo, contains more than 320 animal species from Australia and around the world. The zoo is 4 kilometres north of the centre of Melbourne. Modelled on London Zoo, this family-friendly establishment has animals from all around the world.