Migration: Our History & Heritage

Multicultural Arts Victoria acknowledges the first inhabitants in Australia were the ancestors of the present Indigenous people.

The importance of the creative industries as a platform for positive and non-threatening cultural expression underpins MIGRATION: Our History & Heritage.

Australia has a strong tradition of migration – from the first fleet to the gold rush, through to the European post-war migration boom, and more recently the wave of migration associated with many world conflicts from the Balkans, Africa, Middle East, Timor, Vietnam plus globalisation. Our program MIGRATION  – Our History and Heritage celebrates our diversity through events that encourage intercultural dialogue and storytelling and facilitate greater cultural awareness and understanding.


With key support from the Office of Multicultural Affairs and Citizenship, the Commonwealth Bank, the City of Port Phillip, Victorian Ports Corporation (Melbourne) and Major Projects Victoria, the Piers Festival celebrates and reflects on the collective historical and contemporary migration stories at its site, Princes Pier – the significant entry point where almost half of Australia’s post World War II refugees arrived. The Festival, founded in 2012, brings to life the pivotal role Princes Pier played from 1915 to 1969 in Victoria’s growth and as a gateway to the diversity of cultures that enrich our community. Piers Festival has grown to become an annual highlight in Victoria’s cultural calendar and a significant occasion to acknowledge and bring to light our Indigenous and multicultural talent.

Learn more about the festival through the years; 20172016, 2015, 2014, 2013 and 2012.


The What Happened At The Pier program was born out of the 2014 Piers Festival. Formed and sustained by Lella Cariddi, under the auspice of Multicultural Arts Victoria, the program honours the memories of immigrants and refugees who travelled to Australia by ship through the historical entry points of Princes and Station Pier in Port Melbourne. Like a ‘petri dish’, the program has spawned organic projects which present a rich narrative experience showcasing stories across multiple artistic formats together with digital and print publications, forums, exhibitions, oral histories, documentaries, and performances. Components of What Happened At The Pier have also been presented at the Emerald Hill Library and Heritage Centre and other venues. What Happened At The Pier is envisaged to continue to grow and tour Victoria as interested institutions and artists are engaged.

Lella Cariddi was awarded the prestigious Victorian Multicultural Commission Ambassadors Award in 2016 for her exemplary leadership in the promotion of Victoria’s cultural diversity, through What Happened at the Pier project.