On 23 November 2023, Serbian Community Association of Australia (SCAA), celebrated 30 years of service to the Serbian community in Victoria.
The event was held at the Dandenong Memorial Hall in Dandenong with SCAA members, representatives from various organisation, Serbian groups and other distinguished guests in attendance.
The official part of the program included the welcoming speech by the President of SCAA, Ms Silvana Vukadinovic, followed by speeches from our prominent guests the Hon. Gabrielle Williams MP, Hon Jullian Hill MP, Ms. Vivienne Nguyen, Chairperson Victorian Multicultural Commission and newly elected Mayor of City of Greater Dandenong, Ms Lana Formoso.
During the event, SCAA volunteers were presented with Certificates of Appreciation.
The entertainment was provided by the Serbian singing group “Prelo” and the folkloric assemble “Ravanica”, which was greatly enjoyed by the audience.
At the end of the program, guests had the opportunity to talk to one another other and spend time in a pleasant and festive atmosphere and enjoy traditional food.
History of Serbian Community Association of Australia (SCAA)
The Serbian Community Association of Australia was incorporated in October 1992 under the name Serbian Welfare Association of Victoria (SWAV).
The organisation’s first grant was received in 1993 from the Department of Immigration and Ethnic Affairs, which aimed to assist with the settlement of newly arrived migrants and refugees who fled former Yugoslavia.
For over 15 years, SWAV provided settlement services to Serbian refugees and migrants. During this time, thousands of clients were provided with various services such as assistance with accommodation, material aid, referral, advocacy, education and employment, together with other support services.
SWAV delivered its services across several regions of Melbourne where Serbian people were largely dispersed, namely, Dandenong, Preston, St. Albans and Footscray.
Although a small community organisation, the SWAV Board of Directors and staff were proactive in advocating the interests of the Serbian community during those turbulent times, by organising forums and conferences, and attending meetings with government representative and politicians.
By the end of the 1990s, the number of Serbian people who were coming under the humanitarian program reached its peak. The last major influx of refugees of Serbian background arrived in Australia in the period 2001 to 2006. Since that time, a large proportion of the community has overcome its initial settlement issues and challenges.
In 2009, SWAV conducted a feasibility study to ascertain the needs of the Serbian community. The study, which was funded by the Victorian Multicultural Commission, demonstrated that the needs of the Serbian community had changed dramatically. In that same year, the organisation changed its name to Serbian Community Association of Australia (SCAA).
Given the needs of the Serbian community have changed since its inception, SCAA has endeavoured to address the issues relevant to the current Serbian community which, in recent years, has been focused on delivering programs to the ageing Serbian community. In this regard, SCAA has received funding from the federal, state and local government to provide aged care information, promote health and wellbeing projects, increase access to mainstream services and programs, provide social support, advocacy, and referral.
Further, SCAA has been running two social support groups; the Serbian Playgroup from Hallam which is run by SCAA’s volunteers on a weekly basis, and the Social Support for the Senior Serbian Women Group in Dandenong, which is run by SCAA and which provides ongoing social support by way of information sessions, recreational activities and outings.
SCAA continues to be a leader in the community and is continually striving to implement new programs and initiatives to cater more effectively to the needs of the Serbian community.