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The UPCOV Board members who are Representatives from the Pasifika Communities in Victoria attended a meeting on Sunday 28/04/2019 on a brainstorming exercise to help put out information that are important to the work of the Organisation as it prepares to launch it's new website in the near future. The exercise was to ensure that the website has all the information required by all Community members, Government and stakeholders to ensure that everyone who comes to UPCOV should be able to go back satisfied with it's services that it provides. At the meeting, the Chairman also welcomes new Board member, Ms Sylvia Coombe who is the newly elected President of the Fijian Community Association in Victoria.



In 2011 City of Casey’s Multicultural Youth Development Officer (MYDO) Phill Start was approached by services and local secondary colleges seeking support in working with Pasifika youth. At the time there was no recognised agency or body they could approach.

Through professional and personal contacts MYDO met with recognised Pasifika community leaders to learn what they thought was needed for their youth.

During the discussion with James Henry, Chairperson Victorian Cook Island Association, he said Lemalu Tevaseau, who was the current chair of the Victorian Samoan Advisory Committee, to host a social gathering to discuss common issues and concerns.

James asked if City of Casey would call the meeting and include the other Pasifika communities at a neutral venue to share their concerns and possible solutions. MYDO was asked to chair the meeting. It was held in Council Chambers on April 11th 2011. Each community was invited to bring up to four representatives who were empowered to talk on behalf of their community.

The communities represented on the day were: Cook Island, Samoa, Tonga, Maori, Niue, Kiribati and Tuvalu.

Each community was invited to express their concerns for their community and make suggestions of what is needed. It was agreed the similar concerns were shared by all communities.

Pastor Eddie Erika stood up and recommended that the communities form a peak representative body to help advocate for government support and to have a louder voice. This was unanimously supported. Through the discussion it was also agreed it needed to be a statewide body to have the maximum impact. To assist in this four Local Government Areas (LGA) worked collaboratively to support the formation and functioning of UPCOV. The four LGAs are: City of Casey, City of Greater Dandenong, City of Wyndham and Brimbank City Council.

It was decided the most inclusive name was United Pasifika Council of Victoria (UPCOV). All agreed UPCOV should meet regularly to develop terms of reference and to move towards incorporation. Phill was asked to chair the initial UPCOV meetings while they were structuring.

The meetings were held fortnightly and were in two parts: first half was for community business and terms of reference, the second half was with the service sector including government departments.

Helen Yandell who was the CEO of Springvale Monash Legal Service attended the meetings to assist with creating the terms of reference and moving towards incorporation. (Helen is widely regarded both here and overseas with her work with communities.)

Helen also was able to get senior lawyers to work pro bono in the creation of the terms of reference and subsequent incorporation.

It was decided that each community could have two representatives sit on UPCOV to be decided upon by the individual communities and that the associations needed to be incorporated.


On March 26th 2012 UPCOV became incorporated.

The Board Members and roles at the time were:

Chairperson: James Henry (Cook Island)

Vice Chairperson: Anthony Sofe (Samoa)

Secretary/Public Officer: Georgina Nelson (Aotearoa/Maori)

Treasurer: Helen Cross (Kirati/Tuvalu)

Youth Co-ordinator: Temese Leilua (Southern Health)

Legal Advisor: Hellen Yandell (Springvale Monash Legal Service Inc)

Advisor: Phill Start (City of Casey)


Other Board members:

Christina Fuemana (Niue)

Alex Lupeki (Niue)

Ikani Talai (Tonga)

Rev Salesi Kanongataa (Tonga)

Stanz Atoa (Samoa)

Siau Smith (Kiribati)

Gary Smith (Kiribati)

Semi Vuetibau (Fiji)


Meetings were held monthly.

The first half of the meeting was for community business then relevant service providers and government agencies were invited to join the second half of the meeting.