Our History
Maltese migrants began to arrive in Western Australia in significant numbers in the early 1950’s. The need for an organization to promote and protect the interests of the growing community became apparent.

The Association’s inaugural founder was Joseph Calleja who migrated to Perth with his young family in 1947. In 1959 Joseph Calleja formally approached Father Galea a priest from The Missionary Society of St Paul’ to assist in the formation of the club. Mrs Molly Asphar, who had been residing in Australia for over 25 years, suggested that the club should provide Maltese migrants with social outlets and official representation to Governments and other institutions. By 1958 the Maltese community in Bassendean and the surrounding districts continued to grow and they still did not have an organisation which could act and speak on their behalf. In those early days the Association had a number of different titles. The first attempt was the “WA Maltese Australian Club”; and this was in existence for twelve months. The club hosted one social function, and to its credit, one reception for a VIP from Malta. The club was disbanded thereafter.
Again, Joseph Calleja approached the Missionary Society of St Paul’s with the aim of forming a Maltese club. At this time Father Galea had been replaced by Father Cini. He agreed to assist and between them, they recruited Joseph Calleja’s brother Felix and Fred Wright to form an interim Committee. The first meetings were held at Joe’s home in Anzac Terrace Bassendean. Felix Calleja suggested “Maltese Settlers Association of Western Australia” as a title for the newly formed club which was unanimously adopted. Joseph Calleja was elected President, Fred Wright as Secretary and Father Cini as Treasurer. The first AGM of this new Association was held at the Australian Labor Party’s hall in Broadway Bassendean on Sunday June 7th 1959 which later became their club premises.

With 53 members the Association was very active forming a Soccer team, a Youth brigade, a theatre group and held regular socials and receptions for visiting dignitaries. Women played a significant part in the formative stages of the club’s life as in deed they do today. Although men occupied the Committee executive positions, women played an important role in the club’s direction and growth. They did not intend to play second fiddle to the men and they made their views known early in the formative years.
The minutes of the AGM of 1961 showed this motion was moved and adopted “that women will be permitted to participate equally with men in any activity, meeting or functions”. The motion was carried, although, partly contradicted a motion passed in July 1960 which stated. “If women members are successfully endorsed (as Committee members) there must be not less than two and no more than four”.

Wreath laying ceremonies to commemorate the victories of the Great Sieges of 1565 and 1942 are a traditional part of the club’s calendar, the first of these was held on September 9th 1961 and the event received media coverage in the papers and on television and continues annually today.

The club then went through a number of lean years and minutes of meetings between 1966 and 1974 are missing. One may rightly assume that club activities during this period reached such a low level that no one bothered to keep records or alternatively that any minutes produced were mislaid. Correspondence indicates that the Priests from the Missionary Society of St Paul’s took over the running of the Maltese Community along with the wreath laying ceremony being organized by the Society.

In the early 70’s a rekindling of club interest and activities was emerging but the main concern was securing some premises. A building fund was established however the funds were slow to come in so Peter & Carmen Farrugia generously loaned the club a substantial amount of money and the club was able to purchase the old Trades hall from the Labor party for $70,000.00. Another name change was done on August 23rd 1972 from “Maltese Settlers Association” to the W.A Maltese Association Club (inc)”. A constitution was conceived by Chris Sultana, John Calleja and Peter Farrugia and by 1975 the club had taken over the role previuosly carried out by the Missionary Society of St Paul’s.

The membership expanded rapidly between the mid 70’s and 80’s and so began the monthly publication of an improved Bulletin magazine, the Maltese radio commenced, a Maltese dance group was formed, a cultural exhibition was staged and numerous activities were held.
A grant of $30,000.00 from the Federal Government was obtained and this was used to purchase club equipment. A name change again was done to the present name today of Maltese Association of Western Australia (Inc). But during this time the membership fell to a more constant level of approximately 100 members and produced a number of productive years for the Association. Sponsorships were obtained from Mitchells Retravision (who is still a sponsor today), World Aviation and Singapore Airlines. This allowed the Association to boost its finances through raffles, social nights and the sale of Pastizzi & Ravyul. By the late 1990’s the hall in Broadway, Bassendean had deteriorated to the point where serious consideration was given to demolishing it. Following lengthy negotiations with the Town of Bassendean, 2000 square metres of vacant land belonging to the Department of Land and Administration became available to the Association on a 44 year lease conditional on signing a legal agreement to demolish the old premises. During the year 2000 the old property was sold for $65,000.00 and a Lotterywest grant of $90,000.00 was obtained. Approximately 90 members were involved with many hours of volunteer labour and a low interest loan of $60,000.00 from La Valette Investments Pty Ltd made it possible to begin construction of the new premises.

Under the direction and supervision of Henry Wettinger, (a registered builder and member of the club) the Association erected a substantial Community Centre. The new location of the club was at 1 May Holman Drive Bassendean, and this was officially opened on December 7th 2003 by our Patron Dr Anthony Sciberras and the Mayor of Bassendean Ms Tina Klein, and the vision held by so many people, notably Tony Zammit had come to fruition. The Association will be forever indebted to Tony Zammit (La Valette Investments) for his vision and also to Henry Wettinger who gave almost 2 years of his life to build the premises. Since then a liquor licence has been granted and with regular fund raising through chook raffles and social functions improvements to the club have been achieved. Lotterywest has provided three more grants helping to furnish the office area, computer equipment and the installation of a library and display cabinet. The Association has now erected a children’s playground extended the paving area and is hopeful of obtaining another Lotterywest grant to extend the existing patio area to include a BBQ facility and a stage area for entertainment. Another vision is to build a school room for the teaching of the Maltese language.

Whilst individuals may have the vision of what needs to be done, it is the collective action facilitated by an organization that gives the dream its best chance of success
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Some of our Life members at our recent Volunteers Thank You BBQ
L to R
Jim Vella - Maurice Pace - Henry Wettinger - Carmen Morris - Tony Zammit - Maria Aguis - John Enriquez - Edmond Khoury
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Past Club Presidents at our recent Volunteers Thank You BBQ
L to R
Maurice Pace - Jim Vella - Alf Wettinger - Frank Calleja - Emmanual Calleja - Carmen Morris - Stephen Cauchi (Current President) - Jim Plowman