Overseas Chinese Association of South Australia

29 March, 2017

The Hon. J.S. LEE ( 17:42 ): I move:
That this council—

  1. Congratulates the Overseas Chinese Association of South Australia Inc. for celebrating its 35th anniversary in 2016;
  2. Acknowledges the work and commitment of the past and present committee, staff and volunteers of Overseas Chinese Association for delivering educational programs and important services to its members and the broader multicultural community of South Australia; and
  3. Recognises the wonderful contribution of the Chinese community in South Australia and OCA’s achievements in promoting Chinese language and cultures to enrich South Australia as a multicultural state.

It is a great honour today to move this motion congratulating the Overseas Chinese Association of South Australia for reaching a special milestone in celebrating its 35th anniversary. The Overseas Chinese Association (OCA) is one of the largest incorporated leading Chinese community organisations in South Australia. In its earlier days, OCA was initially established as the Indo-China Chinese Association in the late 1970s and was one of the primary organisations that was set up to assist Chinese migrants in South Australia at the time.

Over 35 years, with the support of a dedicated committee, staff and volunteers, OCA has worked diligently with the responsibility to help improve the lives and welfare of their members from a culturally diverse and non-English-speaking background. It is a privilege to have this opportunity in parliament today to highlight some of their wonderful efforts and dedicated community service to South Australia.

In 1980, the association recognised the changing needs of its members. The decision was made to change its name and it became an incorporated organisation, which is now known as the Overseas Chinese Association of South Australia. Many of its key services were introduced in 1981, when they started to operate at 110 Crittenden Road, Findon, which was formerly the old Findon Primary School Site.

OCA has over 700 members from diverse Australian and multicultural backgrounds. Members come from countries such as Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, China, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Taiwan, Singapore, Indonesia, Thailand and other Asian countries. Since its beginning, OCA has been devoted to supporting and uniting the ethnic Chinese community in South Australia by providing a range of welfare and educational services to its members.

The association promotes intercultural understanding and friendship between ethnic Chinese and Australian multicultural communities. Their mission is to help Chinese migrants settle comfortably into the Australian way of life while also maintaining their Chinese traditions and connections with their countries of origin.

Over the years, the outstanding community services delivered by the OCA has been achieved through the hard work and perseverance of community leaders, community members and dedicated volunteers. I would like to take this opportunity to express my sincere appreciation to past presidents, past committee members, staff, volunteers and supporters over the last 35 years.

Strong leadership is a foundation of every organisation and, in the case of the OCA, many community-minded individuals have served the association with great passion and distinction. It is with privilege that I am able to place the names of past presidents on the public record in the parliament today. Maria Xu was the first president of OCA in 1980, followed by Peter Ong in 1981 until 1982. Then Maria Xu returned as president in 1983 until 1984. Claudia Cream was president in 1984 until 1985 and Susan Le was president in 1985 until 1986. Cu Vong was president in 1987 and 1988, Peng Hak Lim in 1989, Qingbo Li in 1990 and Ich Mau Chiem in 1991.

Susan Le returned in 1991 until 1993. Yong Koh served consecutively from 1993 until 1997. Peter Do served from 1998 until 2001. Yong Koh then returned and served as president from 2001 until 2005. Peter Do also returned as president in 2005 until 2009. Tung Shen Chin served from 2009 until 2013 and Charles Tran has been president from 2013 until now.

I have developed great relationships, particularly with Yong Koh, Claudia Cream, Peter Do, Tung Shen Chin and Charles Tran. I want to say a special thanks to them for their friendship and support over the years. I want to particularly mention Yong Koh because Mr Yong Koh and his wife, Hwee Kheng, are close family friends. I babysat their children when I was a teenager.

During the time that he was president, under the leadership of Yong Koh I emceed many OCA events, all the major spring festivals, the Chinese New Year and the Moon Lantern Festival. He has been a great mentor to me and many young people from the Chinese community. He is a dynamic business leader as well, an entrepreneur, and a great exporter.

For those who have heard me sing karaoke songs at OCA events, Yong Koh was the one who introduced me to karaoke. Many a time you would see me doing karaoke at OCA functions; the love for karaoke throughout OCA functions is evident in the way they love to sing. Every president brought leadership skills and resources to expand the services of the OCA and ensure that members and the broader Australian community enjoyed a high level of engagement and settlement services.

The vast range of services that OCA offers to culturally and linguistically diverse communities in South Australia is truly astonishing. From education to aged care, income support to women's health, the association provides a comprehensive range of services tailored to assist Chinese South Australians, international students, as well as new migrants.

The OCA has worked closely with state and federal government agencies and the local community for many years. Some of the programs they have delivered include the Gamblers Rehabilitation Services, the Low Income Support Program, Community Aged Care Services, the Reconnect program for youth and families, Adult Community Education, women's health, OCA Joblink Services, free coaching for taxi drivers, English training, and Tai Chi lessons.

The OCA has been fortunate to employ dedicated staff members across their welfare and aged-care programs. The association employs three full-time social workers, one part-time youth worker, two part-time workers and is supported by approximately 100 volunteers. I wish to personally thank each and every one of them for their immense contributions to delivering important and valuable community services.

I would like to place some names on the record: Rebecca Li Kam Yu Cheung is a project coordinator for the Commonwealth Home Support Program, Chinese aged-care services. She works there full-time. She is considered a big sister of OCA and has worked there for 22 years. Martin Ting Tung Cheung is a project coordinator for the Commonwealth Home Support Program as well. Martin works there full-time and is another familiar face at OCA. He is called the big brother and has served OCA for 14 years now. Rebecca and Martin are hardworking professionals who are dedicated to serving members of OCA wholeheartedly. They are a wonderful husband and wife team.

Fong Kuan Ung is project coordinator for gambling health services, Adult Community Education and the women's health program. Fong has worked there for 12 years. She has a very caring nature and warm personality, is always very friendly and helpful, works tirelessly and is a popular staff member of OCA.

Judi Jing is a project worker for Adult Community Education. She works there part-time and has been there for nine years. Jian James Lan is a youth worker for the Reconnect project. He works there part-time and has been there for eight years. He is another very friendly and capable young man who is always doing his best to motivate vulnerable young people to engage with their family, school and community, to stabilise their situation and create long-term goals for their wellbeing and future development. Dan Chen is project officer for Gambling Help Services. He works there part-time and has been there for 18 months.

The services offered by OCA staff have had an enormous impact on the lives and wellbeing of so many South Australians over the last 35 years. In terms of educational services, the OCA Chinese ethnic school operates from the premises in Findon, offering courses in Mandarin for over 800 students of various ages every Saturday. From a very humble beginning of only 10 students, the school has expanded to become the renowned and highly respected institution it is today.

In 2009, I am incredibly proud to learn, the Chinese Overseas Education Board labelled the OCA ethnic school as an 'overseas model school', and the Overseas Chinese Affairs Office of the People's Republic of China described the school as a 'most outstanding school'. Full credit goes to the dedicated team of principal and teachers at the school, who have contributed to its success.

Three of the OCA's past committee members have been recognised in the Governor's Multicultural Awards: Mrs Hue Linh Ly was a joint winner of the Volunteer Award at the 2012 Governor's Multicultural Awards; Mr Peter Do, past president of OCA, received the Outstanding Individual Achievement Award at the 2010 Governor's Multicultural Awards; and Ms Claudia Cream OAM, also past president of OCA, was honoured with an Outstanding Individual Achievement Award at the 2009 Governor's Multicultural Awards.

Furthermore, last year in September 2016, OCA was named the 2016 learning community of the year at the Adult Learners' Week Awards, an annual celebration of community and individual learning. Many Chinese migrants within OCA are involved in business and trade, establishing thriving businesses and contributing enormously to the export sector and to the economy of our state.

ChAFTA, the China-Australia Free Trade Agreement, will no doubt increase opportunities for South Australian companies to export and do business with China and open new doors of possibilities for promoting more of South Australia's tourism, agriculture and education to the Chinese market.

The establishment of a Consulate-General's office of the People's Republic of China in South Australia will also enhance the relationship of South Australia with China. OCA has played a significant role to support the establishment of the Chinese Consulate office in Adelaide. The temporary office of the Chinese Consulate is currently located on land owned by OCA, where a part of its property is leased out to the Chinese Consulate.

I am honoured to have this longstanding relationship with the Overseas Chinese Association and have had the opportunity to witness firsthand the valuable contribution it has made to serve the vibrant and growing Chinese community in South Australia. I want to take this opportunity to also thank John Gardner, the member for Morialta, who joined me for the OCA 35th anniversary celebration. I also want to place on the record my thanks to the state Liberal leader, Steven Marshall, for his support of OCA over the years. I am pleased to report that the Liberal leader's Chinese pronunciation was excellent and everybody enjoyed his warm Chinese New Year greetings immensely during the lunar New Year Festival celebration.

Last but not least, I would like to place my sincere congratulations and thanks to the current president of the OCA, Mr Charles Tran, for his efforts in organising many celebrations marking the 35th anniversary of OCA. With those remarks, I commend this motion to the chamber. I would also like to say that I have shown my personal appreciation to OCA by hosting a Parliament House reception and tour for members of OCA for the celebration of their 35th anniversary.

I conducted a bilingual, personalised tour. Many of the Chinese members of the community told me that, although they have lived in South Australia for over 35 years, they have never stepped foot inside Parliament House. It was the first time they had done a Parliament House tour and they appreciated the fact that I conducted the tour in Chinese for them to enhance this memorable experience for them. With those remarks, I commend the motion wholeheartedly to the Legislative Council.

Debate adjourned on motion of Hon. T.J. Stephens.