The Multicultural Communities Council of Illawarra Ltd (MCCI), formerly known as the Illawarra Ethnic Communities Council (IECC) was established in 1975 in Wollongong.
The IECC operated from a small fibro home in Stewart Street, and later relocated to a heritage-listed property at 17 Corrimal Street to accommodate expanding services.
The IECC recognised the importance of providing representation for the culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) and migrant communities in the Illawarra. As a result, the organisation was formed with a strong advocacy and lobbying focus, hosting the first Aged Care Forum for culturally and linguistically diverse communities in the Illawarra in 1984.
In 2009, the IECC relocated head office operations to the Wollongong CBD and at the special members’ meeting was renamed “Multicultural Communities Council of Illawarra”.
Following the success of the first aged care forum, the IECC received funding for the first time via “Grant-In-Aid” for a part-time community worker by the Department of Immigration and Ethnic Affairs.
In August, 1987, the Eastern European and Baltic States Aged Day Care Centre was opened by the Minister of Youth and Community Services, the Hon John Aquilina MP. As one of the first ethnic specific day care programs in the region, the program highlighted the need for more ethnic-specific aged care services for the ageing CALD community.
Since then, MCCI has continued to grow and diversify its programs and services. MCCI now runs aged care services, cultural training and consultancy services in NSW and ACT; youth and community development programs in the Illawarra Shoalhaven, and advocates at all levels of government as one of four peak bodies recognised by the NSW Government’s Leaders in Cultural Diversity initiative.
In 2021 SCARF Refugee Support joined forces with MCCI to provide even greater support for multicultural communities in the Illawarra.
SCARF began from a simple act of kindness in 2003 when co-founders Sharyn and Kel Mackenzie reached out in friendship and support to a family of nine from Sudan who had spent four years in Kakuma Refugee Camp in Kenya. They faced challenges settling in the Illawarra. Others joined Sharyn and Kel, and in 2005, an organisation was formed. By working with the community and building connections, SCARF created opportunities and helped individuals and families to establish a sense of belonging in the region. In early 2021 more than 2100 refugees from 18 different countries of origin were benefitting from SCARF’s services.