Rosetta Parisotto

"One of the things that inspired me to stand for council was to provide a voice in local government for multicultural communities.” - Rosetta Parisotto

Honour Roll

Growing up in northeast Victoria, Rozi Parisotto often heard her widowed mother bemoaning the lack of support or assistance for Italian migrants. The shortage of services for multicultural groups led to a strong feeling of isolation and Rozi was galvanised into action. She established and continues to be President of the North East Multicultural Association (neMA) - a collaboration of five local government regions. The association, which has more than 500 members, acts as the "voice of multiculturalism" in northeastern Victoria.

Now, she says, her mother "feels like there is support". "There is camaraderie through pensioner groups, she has developed some wonderful friendships and there is always someone there."

One particular project that has drawn many migrant women together has involved creating 18 banners to symbolise the breadth of communities represented by neMA. Rozi's community activities extend well beyond neMA. She has been a councillor in Wangaratta since 2000 and has lobbied for more female representation on the council. In 2000, she coordinated a workshop to encourage women to stand for local government.

"This year, for the first time, we have three women councillors, which is amazing."

Rozi's other roles have included the first female president of Wangaratta soccer club, where she advocated strongly for increased women's participation in soccer, and the regional representative of the Ethnic Communities Council of Victoria. Rozi initiated the development of the Education Advisory Committee and strategy for the Rural City of Wangaratta, and is a Justice of the Peace and volunteer radio presenter and panellist for the multicultural hour on Wangaratta community radio.

She also facilitated, with the Victorian Local Governance Association, the development of the Local Government Leadership Program, which was a first for Australia.

"My passion is for people. I work closely with many volunteers and I am an outspoken advocate for equality, respecting the rights and values of people regardless of race, culture and religion - one face, one heart and one family." "If you can assist people and better their lives - I think that is really what life is about."

In 2007 Rozi received the Victorian Government's Excellence in Multicultural Affairs - Meritorious Service Award from the Victorian Multicultural Commission for her contribution to multiculturalism in the region.