Ballarat Regional Multicultural Council, also known as BRMC, is a registered charity and a not-for-profit community service organisation. Established in 1999 BRMC is an incorporated association accountable to members through the BRMC Executive Committee.

BRMC is also accredited under the Aged Care Quality Standards.

BRMC offers a core set of services that support engagement and advocacy for new and emerging migrant communities and multicultural communities in the region, including multicultural sector coordination, settlement, community development, aged support, training and education, as well as arts and events.

BRMC manages the Ballarat Welcome Centre and a team of staff, volunteers and partners with government, community and business to promote our objectives.

BRMC is a not-for-profit (NFP) organisation, formed and driven by culturally and linguistically diverse community members. The creation of the BRMC was also enabled through a consultation organised by the City of Ballarat in 1999, which determined the need to provide a voice and range of culturally sensitive services and support for migrant communities throughout the Central Highlands Region.

In early 1999, a Steering Committee of 10 people was formed. BRMC constitution was drafted and the association was incorporated in December 1999.

Today, BRMC headquarters is located at the Ballarat Welcome Centre, 25-39 Barkly St, Ballarat VIC 3350.

BRMC Original Steering Committee

Dr Sundram Sivamalai
Sulaika Dhanapala
Frank Williams
Ron Males – German-Austrian Assoc. Member
Felicity Stehlik – German-Austrian Assoc. Member
Claudia Tresoldi-McLean
Lakshmi Maksay
John Lawrence
Joe Pavlovic – Commissioner, VMC
John Pandazopoulos – Commissioner, VMC

Chairpersons of BRMC

1999 – 2002 – Dr Sundram Sivamalai
2002 – 2005 – Sulaika Dhanapala
2005 – 2007 – George Fong
2007 – 2009 – Frank Williams
2009 – 2010 – Talia Barrett
2010 – 2012 – Frank Williams
2012 – 2014 – Dr Sundram Sivamalai
2014 – 2016 – Fr Constantine Osuchukwu
2016 – 2020 – Chez Dichiera
2020 – present – Joy Sawiche

BRMC Developments – Timeline

1999 – Steering Committee appointed
2000 – BRMC Incorporated
2001 – BRMC’s first office opens in Norman Street, Wendouree
2001 – Early 2001, BRMC’s first paid worker employed, HACC program
2001 – Late 2001, Mentor Coordinator Litsa Chung appointed, 10 hours per week
2001 – Late 2001 Talia Barrett appointed as English Language Tutor/Coordinator, 5 hours per week
2002 – Evie Dichiera, Cultural Officer appointed
2002 – Migration Law Outreach Program began
2003 – Award for Excellence in Multicultural Affairs/Service Delivery from the Victorian Multicultural Commission
2004 – July, BRMC relocated to 504 Mair Street
2004 – Telelink Program began
2004 – BRMC’s first Coordinator appointed (8 hours per week)
2006 – Mentor Coordinator Program became funded full time and became the SGP Program.
2006 – IHSS Program Coordinator appointed.
2008 – December, BRMC’s office at GPLACE at 102 English Street, Golden Point opens and appointment of Shigekazu Yamawaki as Chief Executive Officer
2009 – October, Talia Barret elected as Chairperson
2010 – October, Frank Williams elected as Chairperson
2012 – Dr Jeff Langdon as Executive Officer
2012 – Ann Foley hired as Executive Officer
2016 – Relocation to Ballarat Welcome Centre
2018 – BRMC office and Ballarat Welcome Centre relocation from 145 Victoria Street to 25-39 Barkly Street at Barkly Square
2020 – Joy Sawiche elected as Chairperson

Sacred Heart Convent – Sacred Heart College

Ballarat Welcome Centre 2017-2018

1872   The Ballarat Congregation had their Australian beginnings in the Victorian part of Warrnambool.  Mother Agnes Graham and seven Sisters came from Ballyjainesduff in County Cavan, Ireland to make a foundation at Warrnambool.

1881   Many women joined the small band, and Mother Agnes and some companions left Warrnambool to establish a foundation at Ballarat East.

Soon after their arrival in Ballarat the Sisters began instructing the girls of St. Alipius School with the intention of establishing a select school for those who were able to afford school fees so that the Sisters could finance the education of the poor. Visitation of the poor in their homes as well as the sick and the dying in the hospital, benevolent asylum and goal made the Sisters very busy women.

The Sisters developed their Sacred Heart College for girls with an emphasis on music, languages. Although the schools prospered, poverty was undoubtedly the lot of the nuns whose apostolate was immense, but it seems their faith was greater than their poverty.

On January 1881, five Sisters of Mercy came to Ballarat East.  The Sisters of this community were Mother M. Agnes Graham, her sister Sister M. Philomene Graham, Sister M. Joseph Howard, Sister M. Xavier Flood and Sister M, Brigid Cousins.

They took up residence in a cottage on the corner of King and Victoria Streets.  Thus was the beginning of what would become Sacred Heart Convent of Mercy and the birth of the Congregation of Sisters of Mercy Ballarat East.

1884   Sister Mary Agnes Graham was appointed first Superioress on 5 July.

1887   The Ballarat East community numbered sixteen.

1890   Sister M. Xavier Flood was appointed Superioress of Ballarat East.

1891   Mother Mary Alacoque Connell Born in Ireland, she entered the Convent of Mercy at Ballarat East in 1891. She was Mother-General of the congregation and principal of the school for many years.  Connell House was named for her.

1898   Bishop Moore’s will – £300 was left to the Sisters of Mercy, Ballarat East.  The property at Victoria Street, Ballarat East used for a girls school by the Sisters of Mercy, he left in trust to his successor and the superioress of the convent for the purposes of the school.

1906   Primary students were moved to St Francis Xavier College

1908   Eileen Mary Healey (1888 – 1966), best known as Mother Bonaventure. Eileen entered the novitiate of the Sisters of Mercy, Ballarat East, where she was professed three years later as Sister Bonaventure. From 1952 to 1966 she was the principal of Sacred Heart College. She became Mother-General in 1956 and a member of the Australian College of Education in 1963. She was a foundation member of the Australian Federation of the Sisters of Mercy. Healy House named for her.

1960   Miss Alice Fanning bequeathed property in Mt Clear to the Sisters of Mercy.

1967   The land in Mt Clear was developed for a senior school for the girls, named St Martin’s in the Pines.

1968   The Year 11 and 12 students of Sacred Heart College moved to the campus at Mt Clear, which became co-educational in 1988.

1976 Former Premier of Victoria, Steve Bracks was a Secondary Commerce teacher at the school.

1994   Sacred Heart College closed preceding the amalgamation of the College with St Martin’s in the Pines and St Paul’s Technical College to form Damascus College Ballarat.

2012   A Daylesford company commenced running ghost tours at the College and convent.

2017   The Ballarat Welcome Centre was established at the site.  Ballarat Regional Multicultural Council became the first tenants at the Ballarat Welcome Centre.