Legislative Council: Wednesday, February 07, 2024


Ceylon Tamil Association of South Australia

The Hon. J.S. LEE (Deputy Leader of the Opposition) (17:35): I move:

That this council—

1. Congratulates Ceylon Tamil Association of South Australia (CTA-SA) for achieving a special milestone of 40th anniversary in 2023;

2. Recognises that the CTA-SA is one of the oldest culturally and linguistically diverse community organisations in Adelaide and is a leading community organisation that serves migrants and refugees from the Sri Lankan and Tamil community of South Australia; and

3. Acknowledges the important work of founding members, current and past presidents, committee members and volunteers of CTA-SA, and thanks them for their hard work, dedication and contributions in preserving the Tamil language and culture by delivering 40 years of outstanding community service in South Australia.

It is indeed wonderful to have this opportunity today to congratulate the Ceylon Tamil Association of South Australia (CTA-SA) for achieving a special milestone, a 40th anniversary. It was such a privilege to attend the CTA Ruby Jubilee Celebration held on 28 October last year. Over the years, I have personally witnessed CTA-SA's strong leadership, hard work, dedication and commitment to provide community services and assistance to help Tamil migrants and refugees from Sri Lanka to overcome challenges, to rebuild lives, and enjoy the freedom of a harmonious and democratic society of Australia.

I also want to take this opportunity to recognise that CTA-SA is one of the oldest culturally and linguistically diverse community organisations in Adelaide, and is a leading community organisation that serves migrants and refugees from the Sri Lankan and Tamil community of South Australia.

The Ceylon Tamil Association of South Australia was formed on 19 August 1983 under a different name, due to a number of challenges at the time. It was originally called the Sri Lankan Refugee Association of South Australia. Many of the founding members were apprehensive of using the word Tamil for the association. They encountered a number of challenges during its formation.

The mission of the association was originally established to provide aid and much-needed support to the Tamil community in Sri Lanka. They were facing extreme persecution and mass violence during the anti-Tamil riots, known as the Black July, in 1983.

The other problem was finding someone who was willing to stand as inaugural president of the association due to the fear of prosecution of their relatives back in Sri Lanka by the then Sri Lankan government. It was in the time of challenge that a leader emerged: Dr Rani Meyhandan, a Malaysian of Ceylonese descent, offered to lead the association and became its inaugural president.

Once established, the association organised many events to raise funds and collect essential items to be used as donations towards helping the persecuted and displaced Tamil community in Sri Lanka. The donations and assistance made a profound difference in preventing the loss of lives of Tamils who were escaping the violence in Sri Lanka. The financial assistance helped to provide essential supplies to displaced individuals and families, and also covered the costs of travelling out of dangerous areas.

After the end of the dark period of Black July, the association here in Adelaide changed its name to its current name, which is Ceylon Tamil Association of South Australia Incorporated, at its annual general meeting held on 3 November 1984. Since then, the association has worked to fulfil its mission of promoting Tamil culture, customs, language and traditions. CTA-SA's cultural focus includes promoting Tamil literature, art, drama and music referred to as muthamil.

The association has also worked to develop relationships with other similar Tamil associations across Australia, forming a positive network of unity and solidarity, as well as to exchange ideas and community initiatives.

Since its inception CTA-SA has maintained a strong focus in serving the local Tamil community in South Australia. It established the Adelaide Tamil Language School in 1988, which is one of the oldest ethnic schools registered with the Ethnic Schools Board in South Australia. The Adelaide Tamil Language School has been fundamental in teaching Tamil as a mother tongue language to the Tamil community in South Australia, especially to new generations of children with Tamil heritage who either moved to or were born in South Australia.

The Adelaide Tamil Language School is open not only to the Tamil community from Sri Lanka but also to the Tamil diaspora from India, Pakistan, Malaysia, Burma and other countries. The school has served the broader Tamil community in South Australia, while promoting harmony, unity and ensuring the preservation of language within the Tamil community of South Australia.

The social and recreational activities organised by CTA-SA increase awareness of Tamil culture in South Australia and ensure that Tamil values and cultures are passed on to future generations, strengthening the multicultural facet of our state. With the increasing need to fundraise for important charities and support philanthropic projects close to their hearts, CTA-SA became a registered charitable organisation in 2023. The association currently has over 700 members of which 600 are Australian citizens and 100 are permanent residents.

The invaluable community service and support by CTA-SA, delivered by hardworking volunteers, has allowed new arrivals to settle in to South Australian society faster, which leads to better education and employment outcomes and, in turn, enabled Tamil community members to make a significant contribution to the economy and the society of South Australia.

As Deputy Leader of the Opposition in the Legislative Council and shadow minister for multicultural South Australia, I would like to congratulate the Ceylon Tamil Association of South Australia on its ruby jubilee celebrations and hope that the association will continue to be a shining example of the importance of a multicultural South Australia for many more years to come.

All of those achievements I mentioned above would not have been possible without the volunteering spirit and selfless dedication to serve the broader community by founding members, past and current presidents and committee members. On this note, I would like to place on the record my sincere thanks for all the members who have consistently come together in the last 40 years to provide community services. I would like to make special mention of the current leadership team of the association, including:

President Dr Punniyamoorthy Jayachakaran (most of us just know him as Jaya, which is a lot easier and shorter);

Vice President, Mr Rohan Augustine;

Secretary, Dr Sev Verl Nagalingam;

Treasurer, Mrs Sunitha Yoheshwaran;

Adelaide Tamil Language School Administrator, Dr Sathyan Thuraiappah; and

board member, Dr Bhavani Nirmalaraja.

I also thank the other contributors of subcommittees and members of CTA-SA for their dedication and hard work to serve the Tamil community.

The outstanding work of past community leaders must also be acknowledged, as they have paved the way for success and the continued existence of the association. Let us recognise the founding members and current and past presidents for their work and dedication. Some of these past presidents include Mr Sugunananthan, Mr Raj Srithar, Mr Jude Nirmalaraja, Dr Sev Nagalingam, Mr Kuganesan, and many more who have contributed to support CTA-SA in the last 40 years.

I look forward to working together with the Ceylon Tamil Association of South Australia. Congratulations once again on their 40th anniversary, and my very best wishes for another 40 years and beyond for their outstanding service to the Tamil community. With those words, I commend the motion to the chamber.

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