Legislative Council: Wednesday, November 15, 2023


United Nations Association of Australia (SA Division)

The Hon. J.S. LEE (Deputy Leader of the Opposition) (17:03): I move:

That this council—

1. Notes that Australia's relationship with the United Nations (UN) dates back to its formation, with Australia as one of the founding members that ratified the UN Charter in 1945;

2. Recognises the important work of the United Nations Association of Australia (UNAA) as a not-for-profit organisation that promotes the aims and ideals of the United Nations throughout the Australian community;

3. Acknowledges the outstanding contributions by the president, committee, sponsors, supporters and volunteers of UNAA (SA Division) in South Australia;

4. Congratulates UNAA South Australia for its commitment to organise the United Nations Day Dinner 2023 in Adelaide, which features a vintage fashion theme to raise awareness about the value of sustainability and sustainable fashion; and

5. Notes UNAA South Australia holds a wide range of events each year to raise awareness about important international issues from human rights to peacekeeping, celebrating the work of the United Nations and advocating for a more peaceful and just society.

It is a great honour for me to rise today to speak about the United Nations Association of Australia (SA Division) and to recognise that Australia's relationship with the United Nations dates back to its formation, with Australia as one of the founding members that ratified the UN Charter in 1945. United Nations Australia (UNAA) is a not-for-profit organisation that promotes the aims and ideals of the United Nations throughout the Australian community. These ideals include global development and respecting the principles of equal rights and the self-determination of all peoples and international cooperation in solving economic, social, cultural and humanitarian problems around the world.

UNAA is represented in every state and territory through its divisions and the national body that collectively runs 150 events throughout the year. The national programs and many events the UNAA hold help educate Australian citizens and leaders about the United Nations' vital work.

In South Australia, through the most tenacious UNAA SA president, Lidia Moretti, and her committee, many interesting and meaningful events are being organised each year. Those of us who have the pleasure of knowing and working with Lidia Moretti would know that she is incredibly persuasive and tenacious, and it is difficult to ever say no to her requests. UNAA SA is greatly supported by their patrons, which include the chief patron, Her Excellency the Hon. Frances Adamson AC, Governor of South Australia, as well as patronage from Sister Patricia Pak Poy.

UNAA SA is passionately led by its president, Lidia Moretti, whom I mentioned before. For those who may not know Lidia, she has a teaching background and was a lecturer at the University of South Australia for over 25 years. She taught English at Huizhou University, China, and was coordinator of a food and wine study tour of South Australia for the University of Gastronomic Sciences in Italy. She has led delegations to the Terra Madre Salone del Gusto, and been an adviser to the Australian Slow Food Management Group and co-leader in South Australia.

Lidia hosts a weekly information and interview radio food program on 5RPH (Vision Australia) and is a board member of 5RPH. She has been an ambassador for the OzHarvest food rescue program since 2011 and helped to establish the organisation in South Australia. She is a committee member of the Australian Committee for UN Women, Adelaide Breakfast, an active member of the Italian community, and a justice of the peace. Lidia seems to have more time; she can pack more things into a day than most people. She really does everything so well and passionately, and it has been a great privilege to work with her over the years.

I also want to take this opportunity to congratulate all the UNAA SA committee members for supporting Lidia in this work, particularly working in partnership with the business sector and not-for-profit organisations, where they sponsor many events and art installations to boost awareness of the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

The flagship event for UNAA SA each year is the United Nations Day celebration dinner. This year, the 78th anniversary UN Day dinner was held on Sunday 5 November at the National Wine Centre. It was a great honour to once again join Lidia Moretti and other distinguished guests, including the former Governor of South Australia the Hon. Hieu Van Le AC and Mrs Lan Le, the Hon. Mira El Dannawi MLC, attending her first official event, and Councillor Quin Tran from the City of Charles Sturt, as well as many, many other community leaders.

This year's UN Day dinner had a vintage theme, with Amanda Blair as the master of ceremonies as well as the keynote speaker, focusing on sustainability and the value of vintage fashion. While Amanda Blair may not require much introduction because she is a well-known Australian radio broadcaster who was also a former columnist with the Sunday Mail. She is also a former member of the Social Inclusion Board, and has been a board member of the Adelaide Festival since 2004, it is worth acknowledging her work, because not only does she do a lot in the media space, she also uses her talent to give back to the community.

For example, she produced an event, Comedy for a Cause, as part of the Adelaide Fringe Festival in 2004, 2006 and 2008. Those shows raised significant money for homeless charities. While Amanda is a household name in South Australia, she started her radio career in Melbourne in 1996, when she made an appearance on The Richard Stubbs Breakfast Show on Triple M to promote her book The Essential Pauline Hanson. She was promptly signed with Austereo, and that turning point made her pack her bags to come to Adelaide to co-host the breakfast show on SAFM with Paul Gale and James Brayshaw in March 1998. The show then secured number one position in the market by the end of that year and maintained it until the show completed its session in July 2003.

In 2007, after a three-year break from radio, she began work at FIVEaa, hosting the afternoon program. She later resigned from FIVEaa in May 2012 to spend more time with her family. Of course, when she spent more time with her family and had more time up her sleeve, she started a philanthropic adventure, which is Dulcie's Bus. It became Australia's first mobile vintage clothing bus. It started off 13 years ago as a fundraiser for the Hutt St Centre and Centacare, but three years ago, Amanda moved the collection into a shop and now focuses on the environmental disaster that is fabric waste and the production of fast fashion.

She tries to keep clothing out of landfill by encouraging the old values of repair, re-use and recycle. Amanda was very passionate on the night when she presented herself as the keynote speaker. She highlighted the important concept of Dulcie's and how we can all do our bit to eliminate fabric waste by making better purchasing decisions. The main feature of the dinner was a vintage fashion parade, with many of the models wearing various vintage dresses designed by Amanda Blair's Dulcie's Shop of Real Opportunity.

Unfortunately, in some way, Lidia Moretti twisted my arm and I became one of the models on the night as well. I joined the other familiar faces, which included Robyn Ann Layton AO; Jill Collins, the state director of DFAT; Genevieve Haese, former Lady Mayoress; Thi Kim Hoan Nguyen; Ada Scalzi; Janitha Perera; and Debi Zechevich. They all participated as models for a good cause that night. We were well supported by Rosemary McLeod and Tiziana, who volunteered to help us and coached us that day to be models.

The gown I was wearing was to commemorate that this year marked the 50th anniversary of the end of Australia's involvement in the Vietnam War, so I had chosen a glorious Vietnamese gown, a replica of a bygone era from the great Nguyen dynasty of Vietnam. The exquisite gown I wore is known as an ao nhat binh, which literally means 'square-collared attire'. It represents the noble dress that was worn by empresses and princesses of the Nguyen dynasty. It was borrowed from the personal museum collection of Michael Nguyen, a Vietnamese veteran based in South Australia.

Michael has an impressive collection of artefacts of significance that represent his proud homeland of Vietnam. I want to thank Michael and his wife for allowing me to borrow the gown for this special occasion. It was really perfectly suited to the dinner's theme of sustainability and recycling old traditional clothes. This particular gown has always been on display and borrowed by many Vietnamese volunteers during the Vietnamese New Year festival. It showcases the timeless beauty and pride of Vietnamese heritage as well as the strength, resilience and courage of its people, including as refugees who travelled into our land during those darker days of the Vietnam War.

Once again, it was a great honour to be involved in the UN Day celebration dinner. I want to congratulate Lidia Moretti, the president, as well as her committee for putting on a spectacular show. I want to thank them for all their work for the United Nations and also Amanda Blair for the passionate and philanthropic work she does for our community. With those remarks, I commend the motion.

Debate adjourned on motion of Hon. I.K. Hunter.