Pasifika communities celebrated at parliament

16 May 2024

Traditional blowing of the conch shell by Fijian elder Savanaca Rauroro, calling people together at the start of the event.
Traditional blowing of the conch shell by Fijian elder Savanaca Rauroro, calling people together at the start of the event.

Queen’s Hall was transformed into a cultural showcase to recognise the contributions of Pasifika communities to Victoria.

Community leaders, support organisations and Members of Parliament came together to meet and connect over their shared interests and values.

‘You have enriched our state with your culture, art, food, sporting prowess, and skills in a variety of fields.'

Speaker Maree Edwards

‘Economic opportunities, educational pursuits, and family ties have brought many Pasifika peoples to Victoria,' Ms Edwards said.

‘We also want to strengthen our connections with you so that you have many opportunities to actively participate in our democracy.’

The communities, including elders, of 10 Pacific Island nations took part in the showcase: Samoa, Tonga, Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Nauru, Tuvalu, Cook Islands, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu and Niue.

Members of various Pasifika communities took part in the showcase.

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‘To my Pasifika brothers and sisters, thank you for the good work you do for community,’ the first Victorian Multicultural Commissioner of Pasifika background, Sylvia Coombe said.

‘May today be the dawn of a new era.'

Victorian Multicultural Commissioner Sylvia Coombe

According to the 2021 census, there are over 79,000 Pasifika people in Victoria, 35 per cent of whom were born in the Pacific Islands.

‘So be heard, be seen, be vocal, not just in the rugby fields, and help us,’ Ms Coombe said.

United Pasifika Council of Victoria President Anthony Sofe said the showcase was a history-making event for Pasifika communities.

‘I want us to appreciate this monumental occasion.’

United Pasifika Council of Victoria President Anthony Sofe

‘On behalf of the Pasifika community I’d just like to give my sincere heartfelt appreciation and gratitude to the Victorian Parliament for opening your doors, allowing us to share our voice,' Mr Sofe said.

The co-chairs of the newly formed Parliamentary Friends of the Pacific Islands also spoke.

‘This partnership embodies our commitment to fostering a robust and enduring relationship with the Pacific Islands, grounded in mutual respect, understanding and co-operation,’ Lee Tarlamis MP said.

‘Hopefully this is the first of many opportunities we get to come together and celebrate what unites us and our common values, and we look forward to being an important part of that.’

'It is so importnat that we do foster these relationships because without our Fijian friends, our Tongan friends, our Samoan friends, everyone from the Pacific Islands, the great north west of Victoria certainly wouldn't be what it is,' Jade Benham MP said.

The Parliament of Victoria was presented with a tapa cloth during the ceremony arranged by Bale Sigabalavu, to signify and celebrate its twinning relationships with the Pacific.

Speaker Maree Edwards and Bale Sigabalavu unveiled the tapa cloth that was gifted to the parliament.

Various displays of cultural artefacts caught the eye of attendees. Many of the items were provided by the diverse communities and some were on loan from Museums Victoria.

Traditional dance and performances by Flowers of Nauru and Bula Meke Group of Fiji brought the event to a close.

Ms Edwards also launched a new youth leadership program, co-designed by parliament’s community engagement team, Culture Spring and young Pasifika people.

Young Victorians from Fijian and Nauruan dance groups performed at the showcase.


‘The youth leadership program will help raise awareness and understanding of parliament among young Pasifika people and help them explore aspects of leadership as they grow into community leaders we can all be proud of,’ Ms Edwards said.

Representatives of other organisations including United Pacific Council of Victoria (UPCOV), Centre for Multicultural Youth, The Pacific Australia Labour Mobility (PALM) Scheme and Rugby Victoria attended the event.