By Emily Robinson
Diversitat’s 40th birthday celebrations lasted all 2016, according to CEO Michael Martinez.
Geelong’s peak multicultural services provider had an official party on 10 December but also celebrated at 40 other events during the year, he said.
“It’s been a big milestone for us.”
Norlane’s Northern Community Hub hosted over 200 staff and Geelong Ethnic Community Council representatives and their families at last month’s party.
Local Indonesian, Greek, Filipino and Maori communities provided guests with a “yummy lunch”, Mr Martinez said.
Other highlights included games, jumping castles, henna painting and a birthday cake.
“It was kind of like a mini festival,” Mr Martinez said.
Diversitat had become “a big part of Geelong” over the 40 years, he said.
“Although it appears to be Caucasian, Geelong is very European.
“In the last 20 years it’s changed. There are more Indonesian, Indian, Chinese, Filipino and Thai people.
“I think this is reflected in the great community halls around Geelong but also in everybody’s communities.”
Diversitat first operated under the name Geelong Migrant Planning Committee before rebranding as Geelong Migrant Resource Centre in 1996. The resource centre became Diversitat in 2005.
“Branding is difficult when you have so many programs, so we brought it all under the one name, Diversitat,” Mr Martinez explained.
“It means diversity, so even back in 2005 we were ahead of the pack. The word wasn’t used then.
“These days ‘diversity’ is often talking about the broad spectrum of our community.”
Mr Martinez said he had worked at Diversitat for 22 years.
“I started in ’94. One of our employees, Grazia Shrimpton, has hit 30 years of employment here.
“We have a lot of staff who’ve been here more than a decade.”
The organisation has called Pakington Street home since day one.
“Many of us can remember this street in the early ’80s – it’s the best strip in Geelong,” Mr Martinez said.
“There’s a lot more cafes and styles, it’s a lot hipper,” he laughed.
Martinez said the team would like to “see more development at the Norlane hub” over the next 10 years.
“As our programs develop and expand we’ll also be growing more programs.
“I don’t think we’ll be going backward, put it that way.
“But it’s not just about growth, as an organisation we haven’t lost our soul.
“We haven’t just become an instrument of government policy, our role is to challenge them and we’re still doing this.”
Mr Martinez said he wanted to thank all the volunteers and community members who had supported Diversitat throughout the years.