Marie Pietersz

Sri Lankan Consuls meet 

Marie PieterszContributed by Marie Pietersz, Melbourne

During a recent visit to Melbourne, Hon Consul for Sri Lanka in Queensland, Mr Anton Swan, and wife Bronwen, made a courtesy call on the Consul for Sri Lanka in Victoria, South Australia and Tasmania, Mr W G S Prasanna, at his offices in Melbourne.

A cordial meeting and informal time was spent together, with both Consuls discussing matters that will improve the services to Sri Lankans in the respective States under their jurisdiction as well as nationally in Australia.


L to R: Hon Consul Mr WGS Prasanna, Bronwen Swan, Hon Consul Mr Anton Swan

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Sri Lankan for Victorian Parliament – Virosh Perera –
Contributed by Marie Pietersz, Melbourne




“With the Victorian State Elections to be held on Saturday, 24 November 2018, it is important that you know your Candidate and what he/she stands for making a difference in shaping Victoria,” Virosh says.

Virosh Perera is a proud Australian from a multicultural background, and honoured to be the Liberal candidate for Dandenong. Virosh is seeking your vote and has this message for the constituents of the City of Greater Dandenong about his political platform and what he can do for you and for the State of Victoria if elected.

“It’s a great honour and a privilege to be your Liberal Candidate in Dandenong; the 5th biggest city in Victoria, where I started my new life in Australia nearly two decades ago.

“I was born in a country town in Sri Lanka called Moratuwa and then moved to UK to complete my postgraduate studies. I started serving the community at the age of 10 at the local church.

“Current policies in Victoria have resulted in rising drug-fuelled crime, punishing cost of living, including electricity prices, congested roads, inadequate public transport and loss of local jobs caused by anti-business policies. As lecturer and entrepreneur, Virosh understands the importance of our children getting a good education and having policies which encourage businesses to employ.

“As a community Advocate, I would like to make difference in the lives of people.

“I was Born in Sri Lanka, Bred in the United Kingdom and Made in Australia.

“When I moved to Melbourne, my first job was as a sales person for Telstra – door knocking. At the same time, my desire was to establish a business, so I remained connected with my roots, which saw my former partner, Geethika, and I started Serendib News in 2000, the first free Sri Lankan newspaper in Australia. The newspaper soon became the backbone for the Serendib Awards, a platform to honour and acknowledge the people who make up the numerous hard-working Multicultural Communities, especially Indians, Fijians, Bangladeshi, Sudanese, Nigerian, Vietnamese, Afghanis, Turkish, Pakistanis, Iranians, Iraqis, Cambodian, Chinese, and others, in this wonderful country.

“Through all these initiatives there were so many opportunities to serve the community and to become an advocate for issues including domestic violence, community integration and of course employment opportunities.

“To support these initiatives, I have lobbied government agencies, charities, Councillors and local government, State Government and even the Federal Government of the day. In addition, I became a Community Ambassador for the AFL, Cricket Australia, Melbourne Stars, the Commonwealth Games, Real Madrid and more, ensuring that multicultural Victoria is considered when it comes to garnering its support and engagement for Sport as a catalyst to nurture and grow young migrants and to integrate them further into the general community.

“I am currently Director Diversity at the South Asian Link Group, a platform for the celebration of culture, diversity and inclusion among multicultural Victorians. As a Head of the Business faculty for the Australian Education Academy in Springvale, I lecture International students in the areas of Business Marketing and Management and offer Career Counselling, Consulting and Mentoring for a range of constituents.

“I am currently involved with a real estate start-up, which is aiming to be next the big innovation in real estate apps in Australia.

“My experience in the community and business world spans 20 years and over three continents.

“I see myself as making a difference to my own child’s future in the areas of Safety, Education and timely Infrastructure and playing a role in making Dandenong even more liveable for our diverse community and preserving it for the future of our children’s children.

“Let’s walk the path with me to make a difference in Victoria especially for the City of Greater Dandenong and endeavour to make this the most vibrant, multicultural Municipality in the world where our differences are nurtured, celebrated and supported.”

Please note if you are an Australian citizen, 18 years and over, you must enrol to vote and be on the Electoral Roll by 6 November. It is compulsory that you vote in the Victorian State Elections. There are a range of options for casting your vote to have your say and make a difference.



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Be Real – Be You!

Fathima Zeenath

Marie PieterszStory and pics by Marie Pietersz, Melbourne





Fathima ZeenathFathima Zeenath, young entrepreneur, title holder in the Miss Sri Lanka Australia Pageant in 2017 and owner of Style by Zee styling service and fashion event organiser is holding an inspiring styling and networking event to celebrate the uniqueness of women. She invites you to join her on the 10th November at The Manningham, 1 Thompsons Road, Bulleen, from 10 am to 3 pm where you will be inspired to celebrate your own uniqueness.


“When I tap in to the styling world, I find it so hard to find events that are inspiring and focus on feeling beautiful both inside and out. Keeping that in mind, I started to host styling events that inspire women and men to do better. This is so far the best styling collaboration I have put together and I am so looking forward to meeting you all at the event,” says Zeenath. 

Most of the money from ticket sales will go towards supporting Make A Wish Australia, a charity partner she has chosen because she can identify with the charity’s mission of granting children’s wishes. She is reflective as she ponders on her mission for women.


“How many times as women have you been told to look a certain way, act a certain way, and be a certain way? But do you ever wonder what will happen if you don’t follow any of these rules and let your authenticity make you true to yourself?” Zeenath asks. “What will happen if you choose to look at your life story in a completely different way and start celebrating your own uniqueness? If you are one of those incredible people who wants to make this change, then this event is for you!”


Your ticket will include-


Inspirational talk by keynote speaker

Molina Swarup Asthana, is a respected Victorian lawyer and winner of the Victorian Multicultural Award for Excellence 2014-2016 and many other community awards for her work with the Indian community in Melbourne and women’s leadership. Molina will share her wisdom and inspire you to act on finding your true potential.

Inspiring and Educational Styling workshop

Lucy Owens is a woman with a great styling knowledge and has worked for international styling brands like Kathmandu, French Connection and Just Jeans. She will inspire you to upgrade your styling game for life.


Health and wellbeing workshop

Shavita Kotak has a great understanding of how to live a mindful life. She gave up her lucrative business role to find out her true alignment of life and will inspire you to live a happy and healthy life.


You will also have the opportunity to mingle with like-minded people and check out skin care products, have your photos taken by professional photographers, choose from a variety of food options from The Manningham, and even showcase your business merchandise.


For all enquiries, contact the Style by Zee team at

Text: 0469861542

Tickets are priced at $20 and also available through Eventbrite.


Fathima Zeenath

Style by Zee services include:      

Motivational workshops

Styling and networking workshops 

Styling and organising for fashion events 

Personal styling / wardrobe upgrades. 





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CoffeeHead by day turns PizzaHead by night – Story and pics: Marie Pietersz, Melbourne

Camberwell’s 1961CoffeeHead launches PizzaHead, its pizzeria menu of gourmet wood-fired pizzas for every palate, inspired by New York’s funkiest pizza joints, at its Happy Hour last week.

Gourmet pizzas made under the expert eye of pizza dough expert Dario Lo Nigro kept marching out the kitchen at a steady pace throughout the evening to a packed café of guests eager to sample CoffeeHead’s new range of wood-fired pizzas, keeping owners Ash and Shiroma Nathan and Bill Sibonis delightedly busy. Adding his special touch to this favourite Italian fare, Ash showcased his pizza creations, the Bee Sting, Little Mermaid and Beastmaster, a real hit with diners, his tasting platters of risotto, gnocchi, calamari and salted watermelon salad, also a huge success. Bar staff were run off their feet with thirsty patrons eager to wash down some of the hot and spicy pizzas. ‘I am delighted with the response,’ said Shiroma. ‘Camberwell diners have been wanting a new line of pizzas to add to their already amazing variety of gastronomical experiences.’ CoffeeHead hosts happy hour from 5-6 pm on Fridays when its range of wood-fired pizzas are on the menu. To dine in at this delightful café in the heart of Camberwell with indoor and outdoor seating, book on 9882 6441 or through Open Table and be pleasantly surprised with the friendly service and seriously good food. Walk-ins are welcome. Take away service and Uber Eats available. CoffeeHead is located at 8 Railway Parade, Camberwell, open for night trading on Fridays and Saturdays until 9.30 pm.


pizza oven pizza
Wood-fired pizza oven New range Gourmet pizza
Ash-Shiroma-Bill busy-bar
Owners Ash, Shiroma and Bill Busy bar
diners family_dining
Bustling with diners Family dining



Marie PieterszStory and pics: Marie Pietersz, Melbourne

12 October 2018


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Aus-Lanka Business Council and Deakin Uni Business School form partnership

Aus-Lanka Business Council


Marie Pietersz

Story: Contributed by Marie Pietersz, Melbourne

Photo: Courtesy of Aus-Lanka Business Council


The Aus-Lanka Business Council and Deakin University Business School signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on 4 April 2018. Signatories to the partnership are Ms Dilkie Perera, National President of the Aus-Lanka Business Council (second from left) and Prof Michael Ewing, Vice Chancellor of Deakin University (second from right).  Also in the picture are Mr Mohan Perera, Vice-President of the Aus-Lanka Business Council (extreme left). and Dr Luckmika Perera of Deakin University Business School (extreme right). The MoU provides a framework through which the two organisations hope to work together to achieve their mutual objectives.

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Dilki receives State Award for Outstanding Community Service 

Marie Pietersz
Story: Marie Pietersz, Melbourne

Pictures: Courtesy of Savish


Balwyn resident Dilkie (Dilrukshie) Perera is the latest recipient of the coveted Victorian Government’s Multicultural Award for Excellence – Meritorious Service to the Community. This award recognises her 20 years of outstanding service to the community, her leadership and dedication towards the promotion of Sri Lankan culture in Victoria, her work in uniting South Asian communities in business, cultural celebration and fundraising initiatives, and her support and empowerment of multicultural youth.

She was presented with the award by the Victorian Multicultural Commission Chairperson Helen Kapalos, in the presence of the Governor of Victoria Hon Linda Dessau AC and the Minister for Multicultural Affairs Hon Robin Scott MP. 

Dilkie immigrated to Australia in 1987. A Chartered Accountant, she held many prestigious positions in Sri Lankan businesses and was Finance Manager of the Sugar Corporation before migrating to Australia and gaining her title of Certified Practising Account (CPA).  In Melbourne Dilkie worked as a financial controller in private organisations and chartered accountancy firms such as PKF Australia and HLB Mann Judd.

In the past 25 years Dilkie has dedicated her time to promoting business between Sri Lanka and Australia and providing​ a platform for the business community to enhance its knowledge on business matters, taxation and commercial law in Australia. She served on the executive committee of the Sri Lanka Australia Council, and was head-hunted to lead the Auslanka Business Council as President, a post she held for seven years, and is currently the National President. 

She extended her service to the South Asian community by joining  SAPAC (South Asia Public Affairs Council) and served on the Committee for Sri Lanka for over two decades, involved in cultural and social activities in the community and assisting with organising the Sri Lankan Independence Day celebrations in Melbourne, which she still does, lately working working closely with the Sri Lankan Consulate in Melbourne on this event. ​

Seeing a vaccum in the involvement of young people in community events, she started the Miss Sri Lanka Australia Pageant with the objective of creating community leaders of young adults with Sri Lankan heritage with the many training opportunities and exposure to community events they receive through participating in the Pageant. In the past two years she has extended this Pageant to the South Asian community and has now run five Miss Sri Lanka Australia Pageants and two Miss South Asia Australia Pageants. As part of the Pageant training program, she has participated in the Australia Day parades in Victoria and SA with the winners from both pageants for the past five years.

She created her own cultural fashion label Savish to promote traditional Sri Lankan garments and designs for the young, especially bridal wear. She provides advice on cultural celebrations for those who like their Melbourne weddings to be conducted in traditional Sri Lankan style. More recently, Dilkie joined the South Asian Designers in Australia and has conducted over 25 cultural bridal and fashion shows, also for the purpose of promoting cultural wear among young people.  

Dilkie’s South Asia Pageant is dedicated to promoting awareness against domestic violence. This year the pageant held on 16 September included a compulsory two-hour session on the problem. The program is run in partnership with the Australasian Centre for Human Rights and Health (ACHRH). The Centre uses interstate coordinators for the program and participants in the Pageant from other states will have the opportunity to become interstate coordinators for the ACHRH. 

Dedicated to serving the community, Dilkie is supported by husband Hilmey Jainudeen and daughters Savindi and Vishni, who have been involved in community service from their early teens. Older daughter Savindi has already received many community service awards and has recently been appointed to the South Asian Ministerial Advisory Committee of the Victorian Multicultural Ministry. 

Dilkie now devotes her time to promoting South Asian youth as the next set of community leaders. Dilkie has demonstrated commendable service to her heritage and the Australian community and is a very worthy recipient of this award. Congratulations to Dilkie with best wishes for her enjoyment of the public recognition bestowed to her through the award.

Dilki (Dilrukshie) Perera

Dilki (Dilrukshie) Perera
Dilki and husband with Sri Lankan community leaders

Dilki (Dilrukshie) PereraReceiving the award from Helen Kapalos

Dilki (Dilrukshie) Perera

Dilki with family

Dilki (Dilrukshie) Perera

The award

Dilki (Dilrukshie) Perera

Dilki and family with Robin Scott MP

Dilki (Dilrukshie) Perera

The Governor oversees proceedings

Dilki (Dilrukshie) Perera

Dilki (Dilrukshie) Perera

Recipients of the award

Also posted on eLanka Facebook page – Click here to visit eLanka Facebook page

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Thursday night is Street Food Night at the Walawwa – Story and pics: Marie Pietersz, Melbourne


Click here or on the photos below to view the full album of photos on eLanka Facebook page

Thursday night is Street Food Night at the Walawwa  Thursday night is Street Food Night at the Walawwa

Thursday night is Street Food Night at the Walawwa

Thursday night is Street Food Night at the Walawwa

Thursday night is Street Food Night at the Walawwa

Thursday night is Street Food Night at the Walawwa

Thursday night is Street Food Night at the Walawwa

The Walawwa “The Bungalow” Restaurant and Bar at Sandown Regency, 477 Princes Highway, Noble Park, is seeing a resurgence in popularity under the capable management of Walter Perumal and his team. Walter is a patient listener when it comes to discussing  potential clients’ complex needs and nothing is too much trouble in his attempts to accommodate and cater for events to suit the customer. Team members Chef Saman and Food and Beverages Manager, Suranga, will make sure your appetite is satisfied and your thirst is quenched. 

Friday to Sunday are busiest for private functions at the Walawwa, but Manager Walter has created a special theme night for walk-in guests, so Sri Lankan food lovers can kick off their weekends earlier – on Thursdays – and eat out at the Walawwa, and for that he promises you a  Street Food Night when the Walawwa dedicates its catering to Sri Lankan village cuisine, the only one of its kind in Melbourne. 

On the deguatation menu you will find mouth-watering Sri Lankan fare. Main meals include hoppers, pittu and babath (tripe), kothu roti, egg roti, pol (coconut) roti, parathas and stringhoppers, served with the usual complementary accompaniments and your choice of curries of either chicken, beef, pork, mutton (goat) and fish – all for the very affordable price of $15 and under. Desserts like wattalappan and creme caramel will cool you down after your hot and spicy dinner. You can BYO wine, but spirits and soft drinks can be purchased at reasonable bar prices.


Although Thursday night caters for walk-in diners, bookings are recommended from the full house I encountered on my recent visit. It appears Street Food Night is gaining popularity from reviews about the delicious food at affordable prices and ample servings to be had.  Friendly staff and efficient service add to a pleasant dining experience, and speculative diners are now trying out this Noble Park restaurant, joining regulars to check out what makes Thursday nights at the Walawwa so popular.


So unplug yourself from the day-to-day work routine, leave your late night shopping for Fridays and go and tantalise your tastebuds with family and friends on Thursdays at the Walawwa. Join the Sri Lankan food lovers set at either the first sitting from 7.00-8.30 pm or the second from 8.30-10.00 pm. Call 9548 2798 for more information or to make a booking.


Restaurant and function centre

The Walawwa is the place for tasty eastern/western food at reasonable prices. Great ambience and venue for celebratory occasions and dances, and offers two function rooms.  The downstairs room can seat 130 people and the venue can be configured and decorated to fit the occasion, serving both buffet and a la carte. You can pick from a variety of live music options. It is open from 10am-10pm. 


For your next function, consider the Walawwa and call 0424 299 226 and discuss your needs with Walter.


Other services offered by the Walawwa are:

Friday nights buffet with live music, $25 pp, 7.30 pm-10 pm

Weekends lunch buffet $18 pp 12 noon-4 pm

Cafe opens week days for lunch until 4 pm – choose from tasty snacks to mini buffet to village fare (game kema) for $10-12 pp.


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Sri Lankan bridal designer launches Indian collection – Story: Marie Pietersz, Melbourne, Photos: courtesy of Savishaus

Click here or on the photos below to view the full set of photos on eLanka Facebook page

Sav Jainudeen chose India Day celebrations at the Mint-O-Mustard Indian Restaurant, Docklands, on 17 August, to launch a preview of her Indian collection, ahead of her full showing at the Brides of Asia Melbourne show on 18 August.

Amidst the riot of colour and array of the costumes worn by guests, this Sri Lankan designer captured the essence of Indian couture with her runway designs, which stood out with the Savish hallmark of beauty and elegance. 

A spokesperson for Festivals of South Asia Inc, organisers of the Brides of Asia, Melbourne show, said they couldn’t wait to unleash some of the masterpiece sarees and bridal flower pieces by favourite Sri Lankan Bridal Designer, savishaus.

Petite and pretty, Sav is fast gaining a reputation as the darling of Sri Lankan bridal couture, with invitations from many South Asian bridal show organisers to preview her collections at their events. 

Savish’s latest launch was in Perth, Western Australia, adding to her expansion in Colombo, Melbourne, Sydney, Adelaide, Canberra, Brisbane and New Zealand.

Also celebrating India’s 72nd Independence Day were special guest speakers Matthew Guy MP, Leader of the Victorian State Opposition and Inga Peulich MP, Shadow Minister for Multicultural Affairs, who encouraged guests, who are migrants like themselves, to take up positions in the community to help shape Australia. 

Dilki Perera, President of the Australia-Sri Lanka Business Council was also there to support designer daughter, Sav, and to announce her initiative, the Miss Australia-Sri Lanka Pageant, which will again take place on 16 September this year, and to invite potential participants to take advantage of this platform of opportunity and training.

Savish is able to produce and supply all your Sri Lankan wedding needs, from traditional Sri Lankan Kandyan wedding sarees and groom’s national and Nilame outfits, to a draping service, hire of traditional jewellery, hair and make-up and flower bouquets. Savish also welcomes and caters for South Asian customers. 

For more information and to enquire about the on-trend services Savish can provide for your traditional nuptials, visit her Facebook page where your enquiries will typically be responded to within the hour.

Click here or on the photos below to view the full set of photos on eLanka Facebook page

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From dream to reality, a new haven for Sri Lanka

Story contributed by: Marie Pietersz, Melbourne

Pictures: courtesy of Project BEAP

Foundation Supporting a National Trauma Service in Sri Lanka

Australian members of the Foundation Supporting a National Trauma Service in Sri Lanka Inc (Foundation) recently returned from a visit to Sri Lanka where they joined Sri Lankan dignitaries and people of the township of Batticoloa to witness the opening of the new Accident & Emergency Treatment Unit (A&E) within the General Hospital on Hospital Road, Batticaloa, on 17 June 2018.

Hon Rajitha Senarathna, Minister for Health, Nutrition & Indigenous Medicine (MOH), and his deputy Mr Faizal Cassim, together with Dr David Young, President of the FSNTSSL, who represented this Australian initiative, declared open the new facility with the singing of the National Anthem and unveiling of a commemorative plaque.

The building was funded with the Sri Lanka MOH outlaying Rs.547m and the Foundation subscribing Rs.260m plus the architectural drawings and supervision of the construction.

It took seven years since the plan was conceived and three months since the stone was laid for the three-storey, 80,000 sq.ft. building to be constructed by the Central Engineering & Consulting Bureau under the watchful eye of the Architect, Dr Locan Gunaratna, of Gunaratna Associates.

The Foundation was established in Melbourne in 2011 to provide the Sri Lanka healthcare sector with leadership and motivation to construct A&E Units to cater for the burgeoning need for this service lacking through the Sri Lankan public sector. The Foundation is spearheaded by Dr David Young, prominent Melbourne Orthopaedic Surgeon with a keen interest in Sri Lanka, derived mainly from his involvement in sports medicine with the Sri Lankan Cricket team and other faculties of sport. The Foundation’s Patron is Dr David de Kretser, former Governor of Victoria, Australia, who has Sri Lankan heritage.

Foundation CEO and Coordinator Nihal de Run, past pupil of Royal College and former employee in the Sri Lanka tea industry, recruited a team of volunteers and business specialists to assist with fund-raising activities and liaison with Sri Lankan government officials. Committee members include Jerome Adams (Deputy CEO), Dave Paramanandan, Lorraine Fernando and Kirupa Sathanantha (Treasurer). The Foundation has a membership of over 300 and pledged over US$2m for the building and US$1m for medical equipment and furniture. Nalin Pathikirikorale (Vice President SL), Jayantha Jayewardene, Indrajith Fernando, Bobby Jordan Hansen, Chandi Page and Bill Deutrom also assisted with raising these funds through donations from both Sri Lankan and Australian corporates, including an individual donation totalling Rs.45m. 

The Foundation provided the following data:

This new A&E Unit is the second in a series of 14 modern state-of-the-art  units to be constructed throughout the island to cater for the rising demand for healthcare in this category. Karapitiya in the south was the first, Batticaloa is the next and it is expected that twelve more will be constructed soon. Work has already started at the Jaffna, Polonnoruwa, Kalmunai and Matara hospitals. The MOH is to be congratulated on taking the advice that A&E Units are vitally important not only for citizens of Sri Lanka, but also for the growing number of tourists that visit.

Road accidents is the number one reason for people seeking admittance to A&E units. The better the roads the faster people tend to travel and the abundance of road traffic vehicles is causing a rapid increase in accidents. Other reasons people seek assistance in these A&E facilities are dog bites (anti-rabies treatment) snake bites, stings, poisons, burns and industrial and domestic accidents.

In the calendar year 2017, 21,654 people were admitted for surgery. Of this fifty percent was for major surgeries. Now, with the addition of three new operating theatres, the Batticaloa Teaching Hospital will be in a better position to deal with the patient demand.

An inspection of the new facility revealed, on the ground floor, a spacious reception area for incoming patients and their family members, an Ambulance Transfer area, Triage, Burns Decontamination room, Poison Treatment room, Rabies treatment unit, Resuscitation Unit, Treatment room with 20 beds, Procedure room, Radiology Room, Ultrasound Scanning Unit, and a CT Scanning room.

The first floor has a sixty-bed male & female short stay ward and six high dependency beds.

The second floor has the three operating theatres, one for general surgery, one for orthopaedic surgery and one for specialty surgery including eye surgery, with accompanying preparation and recovery areas.

Nihal attributes the success of this initiative to the public-private partnership (not for profit) between the Sri Lanka MOH and the  private sector, a partnership he believes can and should be repeated in Sri Lanka to help grow the country’s health care sector quickly and efficiently. He says this needs special arrangements in key government departments and fast communication lines between public sector organisations as the private sector is accustomed to prompt responses and more written communication.  He believes this partnership model can work well anywhere in the world. 

“The Foundation’s goal now is to fund a CT Scanner, w​hich will cost US$600,000,  and the wheels are already in motion to do this within this year, said Nihal. 

For more information, or to make a donation to support the Batticoloa Emergency Accident Project (Project BEAP), contact Nihal on +61-419382142 or Skype: dderun.


Foundation Supporting a National Trauma Service in Sri Lanka

 Foundation Supporting a National Trauma Service in Sri Lanka

Foundation Supporting a National Trauma Service in Sri Lanka

 Foundation Supporting a National Trauma Service in Sri Lanka

Foundation Supporting a National Trauma Service in Sri Lanka

  Foundation Supporting a National Trauma Service in Sri Lanka

Foundation Supporting a National Trauma Service in Sri Lanka

Foundation Supporting a National Trauma Service in Sri Lanka

Foundation Supporting a National Trauma Service in Sri Lanka

Foundation Supporting a National Trauma Service in Sri Lanka




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Oh What A 70’s Josephian Night – Story: Marie Pietersz, Melbourne ; Photographs: courtesy Bryan Perera et al

Please click here or on the photos below to view the full album of photos on eLanka Facebook page

  70s Josephian Night-Melbourne

70s Josephian Night-Melbourne

70s Josephian Night-Melbourne

70s Josephian Night-Melbourne

70s Josephian Night-Melbourne

The Josephines’ Club of Australia Inc held its 2018 mid-year soiree at the Sacred Heart Church Hall, Oakleigh, on Saturday, 7th July, in true hippy 70’s style.

The Josephines’ theme-oriented mid-year functions are always a sell-out because of patron feedback that they are “fun”, represent “value for money” and provide “superb food and decor” and this reputation is spreading. In the past five years the dress-up themes have included Sri Lankan, Rock ‘n’ Roll, Back to School, Bollywood and the Groovy 70’s. 

Once again this year’s event was a load of fun and you could be forgiven for thinking you were back in the 70’s or on a 70’s movie set, with a roomful of 255 guests, all dressed in costumes from this era – famous bell bottoms, Annette Funicello sunglasses, peace pendants, glamorous beehive and Afro hairdo’s, hippy headbands, loud shirts and flower-power chains and accessories. Past pupils travelled from Queensland and NSW for the event.

In its very popular format, the soiree commenced with the entrance of the newest Royal, Megan Markel, a.k.a. Committee member and MC, Delreen Cramer, with her hilarious send-up of the Duchess of Sussex, attracting loud cheers.  Music from the 70’s was provided by DJ Jeremy Ekanayake, with Jolly J’s catering serving up their usual sumptuous food. 

The highlight of the evening was the fancy dress competition. With so many beautifully dressed people, the judges had a hard job choosing the winner, with Tessa Meyn (Queensland) and Shirin Arulanandam (Victoria) crowned equal female winners and Hamish Scully the unanimous male winner.

President Danielle Gunatilaka provided an insight into the club, its activities and the causes it supports:

“St Joseph’s Convent, Sri Lanka, as it was previously known, is now a government school and barely receives funding from the government. In fact the government is only able to pay the teachers’ salaries. These dances are a way to fund-raise to help keep the school functioning on a day-to-day basis. 

“The St Josephine Australian chapter was instituted in 1997 by a small group of past pupils with a present membership of 160. The club is always on the look-out for more past pupils to join for a mere membership fee of $10 per annum. 

 “The club holds three events per year: a major end-of-year dinner dance, a mid-year dance and a celebratory lunch at the Feast of St Joseph. 

“Monies raised from these events go to fund school projects in whatever area we have learned requires funding. This year we are concentrating on an electronic whiteboard and much needed refurbishments of the toilets. We have funded the stocking up of brand new books for the whole of the Junior School Library. We have funded the refurbishment of the St Joseph’s statue to continue the element of it being a Catholic school. We have upgraded the school band with instruments such as trumpets, saxophones, drums, music stands and band uniforms.

“Every year we send funds for St. Joseph’s Feast day in Sri Lanka to give the 2200 children in school a treat on this significant day. This year also saw us contribute $500 to the Children’s Cancer Ward (in SL) in dire need of milk powder. We also support an Australian charity each year with a donation of $500. We are currently in discussion with authorities of the school re sponsorship of a couple of underprivileged girls attending the school in regards to their school fees, school books and uniforms. 

“If finances permit more could be done. Attending our functions means you are helping us to help. Thank you for your past support and please support our worthy cause with your presence at our future events. Next year’s mid-year dance will definitely be themed again, so we do hope you will attend and join the dress-up for a night of fun.”

The club is to be congratulated on such a tremendous philantropic effort from such a small organisation.

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