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Sunday, October 24, 2021

Goan Overseas Association (GOA) enters 39th year with a big bang  

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GOA NSW Inc. is the oldest Goan Association in New South Wales and in fact in Australia.

Goa, a former Portuguese territory, for more than 450 years was described as ‘The Rome of the East’. Like Rome, it has developed into a holiday destination for many. More than 40 years after the departure of the Portuguese, Goa has perhaps a unique standing in Modern India. Religion is very important to the Goans. Churches, Temples and Mosques abound wherever you journey in Goa. Though, Goa is a multi-ethnic state, Goans are very tolerant towards each other’s faiths. St. Francis Xavier is the patron saint of Goa. Goa’s 105 km coastline is blessed with lovely beaches such as Vagator, Anjuna, Calangute, Baga and Harmal in the North of Goa and Colva, Betul and Palolem in the South. Some of these beaches have already become world famous. Goans love music. It is an integral part of their lives. Though the Goans have derived their music from the Portuguese, Goan Folk Music is a blend of GOAstern music and Hindu temple Music. Goa has its own alcoholic brew – FENI. This is the local drink in Goa, breGOAd from either coconut sap or cashew fruit. Music, dance, drama, food and feni, are a few of the things most Goans are passionate about, wherever part of the world they live.

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GOA has evolved from a small intra-community focused organisation to one that embraces the diversity of its members and engagement with the broader community. Like most organisations, its position shifted from close management of the community to one that facilitates different groups such as GOA Toastmasters, GOA Golf and NSW GOA Youth. It took a leadership role to collaborate with other Indian associations who have a shared culture (language, religion, social events and sport) to create a dynamic engagement around sport.

The GOA as a volunteer-based organisation that is growing, evolving and embracing the diversity of its members.  Since 2006, the Association has developed stronger relationships with associations who share a similar mission and other commonalities such as the Mangalorean Catholic Association and the two Anglo-Indian associations in NSW. GOA promotes each other’s events. This collaboration led to three sporting events that are the GOA’s calendar high light: GOARAIA and MANGO cup as GOAll as a golf event that is open to members of the associations GOA collaborate with.

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The GOA has also collaborated more broadly with other Indian associations on raising the community’s perspective in areas such as migration, social policy and the arts to highlight the diversity of Indian voices. Such as Goan artefacts for a public exhibition in Parramatta and took part in the South Asian Forum on Ageing held in May 2014 in Parramatta. The first Living in Harmony picnic with the broader Catholic community at Bicentennial Park which is now a regular event on the GOA calendar. GOA with the local Toastmasters developed the GOA Toastmasters since 2006. This collaboration allows interested members of the GOA and its partner associations to develop skills that are valuable for both in and outside the Association. Through this many in the younger generation are now mentored to lead community events as speakers and ceremony hosts.

GOA elected its new Executive Committee and Youth Committee recently and entering into the 39th year.

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According to Tony Colaco, President of GOA and perhaps the longest serving President of any community organisation in Australia being re-elected year after year “there is still much work to do in creating a truly inclusive community in Australia. That ideal is a work in progress with support from the community”.

The Indian Telegraph commends efforts of Tony Colaco and GOA for their community engagement in the multicultural Australia and providing a role model leadership to many community organisations in Australia.

Vish Viswanathan 

The Indian Telegraph Sydney Australia

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