We celebrate Australia Day.
A perfect day, cool, a slight breeze and few flies, a good start one would say. People started arriving at about 8am as the aroma from the barby wafted across the area. Soon the first of the eighty people who attended were enjoying fruit, lamb chops, bacon, steak, eggs and toms. The three chefs were kept busy for about two hours keeping the multitude fed.
Our Australia Day Ambassador this year was Vedran Drakulic from Melbourne. Vedran and his wife migrated to Australia as refugees in 1995 from war torn Bosnia. The Bosnian war lasted from 1992 to 1995, the capital Sarajevo where he lived was under siege for forty four months, the longest seige of a capital city in history. They arrived in Brisbane with few clothes and no money, he knew only one person in Australia and that person lived in Queensland.
Vedran said that coming to Australia gave him a new chance which he enthusiastically embraced, this is evident in the success he has had working in the humanatarian field. Being a refugee himself he has a great understanding of the needs of people who have suffered because of war and conflict.
Vedran worked for The International Committee of Red Cross throughout most of the conflict in Bosnia Herzegovina. Following his arrival in Australia he spent fifteen years working for The Australian Red Cross, International Red Cross and Oxfam, where he was involved in public affairs, fundraising, marketing, communications and sponsorship.
Vedran then took up a position with RACV spending three years as General Manager Public Affairs. Since December 2011 Vedran has been the CEO of Gandel Philanthropy which provides grants in a number of key areas of interest including arts and culture, education, health and medical research, Jewish identity and leadership and indigenous programs.
Coming from a war torn country he really appreciated the freedom of Australia, &”there is something very special about it” he said. Because of his past involvement with the Red Cross he had delved in to our local history and found that Arcadia had an active Red Cross branch back in the early 1900’s. Possibly a fact that many in the gathering did not know?
The Arcadia Citizen of the Year was awarded to John Gribben, John is a worthy winner of the award this year. As well as being involved in the local fire brigade, he has been involved with the local Uniting Church Parish as secretary for ten years. John has a keen interest in local history especially regarding the POW camps at Tatura and Murchison, he has given his time freely to address various groups on the history.