After many months of preparation, on Friday 27 May, we closed our computers, rolled our sleeves up, and prepared 75 Reid St, Fitzroy for our celebration dinner to be held that night. We were fortunate in having our Adelaide contingent, Chleo and Bec, join us for the evening.
Guests started arriving at 6:30pm to enjoy a pre-dinner drink, mingle, and peruse our silent auction items.
Suiyin Cheah, our Master of Ceremonies (MC) for the night, started the programme with an ice-breaker that had people forming groups to build their idea of a flourishing community with building bricks. Many laughs were had and colourful creations built. It was interesting to see common themes emerge – nature, diversity, a place for everyone, creativity, and breaking down barriers.
Dinner guests heard about our some of our projects from our team and partners. Theo Mbazamutima, from Burundi, and Dicky Sofjan, from Indonesia, spoke of the interactions and projects they’re involved with, in pre-recorded speeches. I spoke about our almost completed homelessness project, PATH, and the next stages. While Nigel Smith spoke of some of the upcoming international projects we’re working on.
Guests were entertained throughout the night by the incredibly talented band, The Experimentals, who picked the demographic well and played songs we could all sing or hum along to. We were also entertained by award winning performance poet, John Englezos, who took us back to the days of Nintendo 64 Mario Kart and Sunday lunch with grandparents.
Our meals prepared by caterers, Free Burma Café, turned out better than any of us anticipated. We’d all envisioned plated meals for all courses, but were delighted by the presentation of our main meal that had us passing around bowls of chicken, beef, and vegetable curries, as well as rice and salad. It really added to the ‘community’ vibe of the night.
Our guest speaker for the night was Federal Greens Senator, Lidia Thorpe, a proud Djab Wurrung Gunnai Gunditjmara woman. Lidia spoke of her community development days in her community and the importance of being with ‘real’ people. One of the stand-out stories she recalled was about a women’s group in Gippsland that comprised of mainly Indigenous women and a few ‘powerful’ white women. Lidia convinced the Indigenous women that they would need to set the rules for the group. The main rule was that nobody was to mention what job they had. Despite the initial discomfort, some of those women are still speaking to this day, more than a decade on. We also heard about a group of Indigenous kids who she trained for a school cross-country. They had the passion, but lacked the confidence. Her support had a positive impact on the children and the town as a whole.
Last, but not least, the night’s programme ended with a speech from CBBC’s Managing Director, Andre. Nigel told us the results of the silent auction, and also spoke more broadly about CBBC’s Giving Community, which enables people to financially contribute to our projects on an ongoing basis.
We’d like to thank all who came to the event, those who bought tickets, and everyone who supported the night, including the fantastic people and businesses who contributed items for the silent auction. Lastly, we’d like to say a huge thank you to Euan, Florence,Iona, and Josh who gave up their Friday night to volunteer as bar and waitstaff, ensuring the night went incredibly smoothly.
Header image: (top) The Experimentals, (bottom left) John Englezos, (bottom right) Lisa Peterson.