These days the Slovenian community in Melbourne is celebrating the 60th anniversary of its largest organisation, the Slovenian Association Melbourne. All current and potential members are invited to join in celebrations that will start on Saturday, 29 November, and end on Sunday, 30 November. The program is available on the Association’s website.
On 5 December 1954, the first meeting that led to the formal opening of the club on 19 December, was attended by 26 members who agreed to call it ‘Slovenian Club Melbourne’ and set out to define its purpose. The organisation was established with the view of:
- helping fellow Slovenians integrate in the Australian way of life;
- helping Slovenian migrants in all ways, including financially;
- helping Slovenian refugees from Europe;
- providing members and their friends with cultural, social and sports activities that are healthy, intellectual and/or physical, and
- promoting, developing and upholding the Slovenian cultural heritage while contributing to the Australian community.
Today, these lofty aims are just as relevant as they were 60 years ago. Their interpretation, however, needs to embrace the current situation in which:
- new Slovenian migrants who are arriving now could still use some friendly help;
- many initial members and their friends are now in their 80s or even 90s and some, especially those with no family, need help (perhaps even financial help); and
- the current political situation in Slovenia is still generating refugees even if they do not need to fear imprisonment and death. Having no job or hope of a better future creates economic migrants who find themselves moving overseas due to the political situation in the country. Helping them adjust in Australia remains just as relevant today as it was then. True, they come better educated and better prepared for their new life in Australia. They mostly speak English well and don’t need this basic assistance. But their first year in Australia is just as hard as it was for those who arrived earlier and they experience the same sense of being too far away from everything familiar even if the circumstances are now different.
Throughout its history, the Slovenian Association Melbourne has been very active and successful in promoting the Slovenian culture and language in the Slovenian and Australian community. Publications, sports sections and events, concerts, Slovenian language schools, radio broadcasts, exhibitions, historic archives and many many functions have left a lasting effect on our community and created our common history.
Many members dedicated a lot of their free time to contribute to this history. Their hard work will never be forgotten.
While contemplating the past and trying to envision the future we should not forget to focus on the present. Our present moment is just as precious as our past and our future.
Slovensko društvo Melbourne, congratulations and happy celebrations!