More than 500 people attended the event, representing all of the social, cultural and professional sectors which make up the Italian community in Victoria.

Also present were members of CO.AS.IT. in Sydney, Brisbane and Perth.

It was a particularly important moment for the Italian community in Australia, which was celebrated with a special edition magazine inserted in Il Globo.

Aside from celebrating 50 years of service to the Italian community in Melbourne, the event also recognised the signing of an agreement between the CO.AS.IT. branches of Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane and Perth.

The Memorandum of Understanding was signed last Saturday during Ambassador of Italy Stefano Gatti’s visit to our city.

It marks the beginning of stronger collaboration between the branches together with the establishment of CO.AS.IT. Australia, a united national organisation.

The memorandum will allow CO.AS.IT. to outline government strategies in the areas of community assistance and the promotion of language and culture.

The 50th anniversary of CO.AS.IT. in Melbourne is a milestone of considerable significance both socially and historically.

Many of those present at the celebratory lunch felt a sense of belonging and a shared history which, in the 50 years of CO.AS.IT.’s existence, has seen the Italian community become a part of every sector of Victoria’s society.

The multifunctional role it has performed – and continues to perform – in the areas of welfare, culture and education was illustrated through various video documentaries and a speech by Rhonda Barro.

Barro is executive director of Barro Group, Australia’s leading independent supplier and distributor of premixed concrete, quarry products and a range of associated products.

To honour her Italian heritage, Barro has been president of CO.AS.IT. for several years.

Another highlight of the event was a greeting speech by the Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change Lily D’Ambrosio.

D’Ambrosio emphasised the contribution of the Italian community to Melbourne’s multicultural identity and CO.AS.IT.’s service to our community over the years.

Messages of congratulations arrived from Australian political leaders within both the government and the opposition.

The 50th anniversary also presented the opportunity for the recently-appointed ambassador Gatti to hold a meeting with directors from CO.AS.IT. branches across the nation.

The main topic discussed during the meeting was the support offered to Italo-Australians by the Italian government and CO.AS.IT.’s special program which allows young qualified Italians to come to Australia and work as linguistic assistants in schools which offer Italian.