by S Lowe for 5THE FM’s newsonline wattlerangenow
Ownership of the Millicent Italian Social Club Inc clubrooms will now be transferred to Wattle Range Council and used as a Multicultural Hub. Council voted to take ownership of the building at last night’s council meeting, after receiving a formal request from the club. This request followed the public meeting on Sunday 31st May 2015. Mayor Peter Gandolfi opened last nights discussion by acknowledging the valuable contribution the Italian community has made to the wider community and as an Italian descendant on his father’s side, said, he has many memories of the very successful events held at the club rooms over the years. Current Italian Social Club President Albino Cecotti and draftman of the original plans, Bruno Bosco, attended the council meeting; waiting out the long meeting to witness council’s historic decision. The club rooms were built by hand by volunteers and has held a special place in the hearts of the Italian community for as long as it has stood and will remain a place where many fond memories were created.
The Italian Social Club was established in the 1960’s, the building was built in 1978 in Short Street Millicent, is owned by the Italian Club but was built on land owned by council on a 100 year lease arrangement. There is 27 years left of the current lease. The land is zoned, community, according to council documents.
The building is currently valued at $350,000 and is in generally good repair, features a large parquetry auditorium, commercial kitchen, bar and bathroom and several smaller rooms which housed the club in the early days before the large extensions were constructed.
In a formal request to council from the Italian Club, the following considerations were included; the Millicent Italian Social Club name would be retained on the building and the sign at the entrance, the club members retain on-going access to the original part of the building, they have use of the building for events free of charge through the booking process to be established, and the building now be included on the 100 year lease on the land.
Council will pay the lapsed insurance and estimate the cost of required maintenance to be in the vicinity of $20,000. The council will make the building available for hire until such times a Multicultural Club be established, which council say would take some time and need community input to achieve. It is also proposed a Management Committee be established.
The Italian Social Club Inc. has been an important part of the Millicent and surrounding districts landscape since post war migration brought many to our community. The club rooms has been like a second home to many Italian families. Due to dwindling numbers and finances in recent times, the club members had to make a difficult decision; they needed to either close the club or find a way for it to continue and they invited the general community to be a part of that decisions. The committee called a special public meeting held on Sunday 31st May 2015.
Many of the remaining members were among the 50 people attending. Acting Wattle Range Mayor Rob Dycer, Councillors Brown & Muhovics, Ecomomic Development Manager Ed Scanlon and representatives from 5THE FM attended the meeting.
Cnr Brown chaired the meeting and invited suggestions about the future of the club from those attending. Cnrs Dycer and Muhovics opened discussions inviting the members to say what they would like to see happen. The members were open to suggestions.
Representatives from 5THE FM proposed finding a way to carry on the club but with a focus on Multiculturalism, forming a new committee which included representatives from the Italian members and with the ability of 5THE FM to source funding through Multicultual and Ethnic avenues to maintain the building, and with increased numbers, new life could be breathed into a once vibrant club again.
The proposal to re-launch the Italian Club as a Multicultural Centre was welcomed and discussions about a settlement program to attract new migrant communities which had been very successful in Nhill was discussed. 5THE FM’s Rebekah Lowe explained the program which had seen 80 migrant families settled into Nhill, bringing $40m into their economy through various means including settlement funding, over the past 5 years.
Acting Mayor Rob Dycer suggested the committee write to Wattle Range Council requesting they take over ownership of the building which would see Council pay the outstanding insurance premiums; also a management committee for the hall and a Multicultural Committee be established to re-launch the Italian Social Club as a Multicultural Club. Cr Dycer said it would be discussed at council’s briefing meeting this week and invited representatives of the Italian club and interested persons to attend the June council meeting.
Members attending Sunday’s meeting were clearly passionate about their club and it was obvious that many minds were reliving the club’s heyday when up to 300 people danced the night away and it was a time that dreams were made of.
Cr Gwenda Lawlor moved that council take ownership of the Italian Club building; make it available for community hire, it be used for a Multicultural Hub and grant funding be sought for its upgrade. The motion was seconded by Cr Dennis Muhovics and the motion was unanimously passed by council.
The Italian Social Club Committee are in favour of the building being used as a Multicultural Venue and will now formally pass ownership of the building to Wattle Range Council.
Wattle Range Council meeting Tuesday 9th June 2015. Agenda item 11.3.4.