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Interview with Fred Alale AM, Director, Department of Education

13 Nov 2023

Kevin Kapeke, Chair, African-Australian Community of Practice (CoP), IPAA Victoria, interviewed Fred Alale AM, a director in the Department of Education, Chair of the African Music and Culture Festival and an inaugural member of the Member of Music Australia Council, about his community leadership and recent Order of Australia award.

As part of the African-Australian CoP’s ongoing focus interviewing community and public purpose leaders, Kevin Kapeke, Chair, African-Australian CoP, had the privilege of sitting down with Fred Alale AM, a man whose passion for creating positive change and empowering individuals has left an indelible mark on the Australian landscape. Fred’s journey as a public service professional, community advocate, and father of three girls showcases his unwavering commitment to fostering a brighter future for all.

Fred’s motivation is rooted in his fervent belief in the power of change and the significance of community. His guiding principle is not how many doors open for him but how many people he can bring through those doors. This philosophy reflects his measure of success, emphasizing the importance of uplifting and empowering others.

Balancing multiple roles as a director, community board member, and father of three is no small feat, but Fred handles it with grace and determination. In his role as a director, he ensures the smooth functioning of vital financial systems and projects in the Department of Education. As a community board chair of the African Music and Culture Festival, he dedicates his days to strategic planning and advocating for positive change within the community. Yet, it’s the moments spent with his family that Fred treasures the most. As the first man in his daughters’ lives, he is committed to being a positive role model, instilling values, and empowering them to overcome challenges.

What does a day in the life of a department director, community board member and dad to three girls look like? What are the most impactful parts of your day?

Each day is a delicate balancing act, and that’s what makes it truly dynamic. In my role as a director, I navigate the intricacies of financial systems and projects, ensuring the smooth functioning of critical operations. As a community board member, my days involve strategic planning and dedicated advocacy for positive change within the community. 

However, the most impactful moments are those spent with my family. I cherish the time dedicated to instilling values in my three daughters and creating lasting memories together. As the first man in their lives, I am conscientious about being a positive role model. My goal is to empower them with the belief that they can overcome challenges, be resilient, and strive for excellence in everything they do. Ultimately, above all else, I want them to find happiness. My greatest hope is for my girls to surpass my achievements, using my successes as a foundation upon which they can build their own exceptional futures.”

Fred’s journey over the last 15 years in Australia has been marked by significant achievements and personal growth. From dreaming of becoming an accountant in the UK to receiving the Order of Australia in 2023, each step has contributed to shaping his perspective and enabling him to make substantial contributions to his profession and community.

As an African Australian and having newly moved to Australia, what do you wish you had known 15 years ago that you know now?

I wish I had fully grasped the tremendous potential Australia held for me 15 years ago. The opportunities to excel, give back to the community, and create a lasting impact have far exceeded my initial expectations.

Further, Fred’s mentors have had a profound impact on his life and work journey. They shared a commitment to excellence, resilience, and the importance of giving back. Their guidance shaped his leadership approach and commitment to fostering growth.

Recognising the challenges early career professionals face, Fred encourages them to embrace continuous learning, seek mentorship, and be proactive in identifying and seizing opportunities. He also emphasises the value of engaging in community service through volunteering, which not only broadens horizons but also imparts essential life skills and a sense of social responsibility.

Community advocacy is important to you; this is explored through AMCF & your recent appointment to the Music Australia Council. What would you like your legacy to be there?

The opportunity to join the Music Australia Council emerged through the recognition of the impactful work carried out by the African Music and Cultural Festival (AMCF) in celebrating diversity and fostering cultural understanding through music. My active involvement in advocating for the African Australian community, coupled with AMCF’s success, opened the door to contribute to a broader platform like the Music Australia Council. 

As for my legacy, I aim to leave a lasting imprint on the Australian music landscape by championing diversity and inclusion. I want to be a catalyst for ensuring that the rich tapestry of African music is not only celebrated but woven into the broader narrative of Australia’s musical identity. Through this, I aspire to inspire future generations of musicians, fostering an environment where everyone’s voice, regardless of cultural background, is heard and appreciated. My vision is to see a more inclusive, vibrant, and culturally diverse music scene that reflects the true essence of Australia’s multicultural society.

Fred Alale AM is an inspiration and a leader who embodies the values of empowerment, inclusion, and community service. His journey and dedication remind us that positive change and a brighter future are within reach when we come together as a community. Fred’s vision for Australia’s cultural landscape is a testament to the power of diversity and the potential for greatness when we work collectively toward a common goal.

This year’s African Music and Cultural Festival will be held from Friday 17 to Sunday 19 November 2023. The three-day celebration of culture and community will be based at Federation Square and will centre on music, food, fashion, film, dance and art. 

IPAA Victoria would like to congratulate Fred on receiving the Order of Australia in 2023 for his commitment to community leadership.