Latest News

August 2019
Funding for cultural activities announced during this month. A total of $17,682 was granted to several organisations, a summary of which is tabled below:
 
Recipient Purpose Amount ($)
Sõrve  Camp General purposes, with the stipulation that $4,000 be aimed towards supporting families with special needs or who are experiencing difficulties, in particular towards fostering links across states. 10,000.00
Lõke Musical Ensemble To cover the costs of a portable sound system 3,632.00
Aksel Haagensen Part allocation towards the production of documentary film regarding Estonian refugees in Australia. This was considered to be a worthwhile project in the light of the mass deportation ceremony held during the previous month. Whilst the final documentary film would be housed in Estonia, it could be used around the world. ERC stipulated that a copy be deposited with the Estonian-Australian Archives 1,500.00
Sydney Mudilasring
 
Cover the costs of teaching staff 2,550.00
    17,682.00
 
July 2019
A number of ERC directors and members attended the festivities held in Tallinn to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the song celebration – the first song celebration being held in Estonia in 1869. This summer the song celebration took place for the 27th time and the dance celebration for the 20th time. 
The Estonian Song Celebration is a tradition, also listed in UNESCO listed treasures, that dates back to the year 1869. In almost 150 years, the song celebration has had a significant effect on the development of Estonian identity and politics. The tradition has enriched the Estonian language and culture. More than once has it encouraged the population to oppose at various time, occupying forces while pursuing the wish for freedom and self-determination.
 
A video of the songfest can be found here or at this link –
 
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E_NnbBCmjdQ .
 
It covers both days and goes for almost 8 hours!  Happy viewing.
June 2019
We attended a commemoration held at the Latvian Hall in Strathfield on 16th June, 2019 to mark the deportations of civilians from the Baltic States by the Soviet Union in June 1941. A powerful speech was presented by Lembit Suur, the contents of which are available here.
May 2019

A Memorial Commemoration was held in honour of Sir Arvi Parbo who passed away earlier this month. The Commemoration was held at the Melbourne Town Hall on Monday 27th May and was attended by many people from the Estonian community as well as the Australian Mining Industry. A tribute to Sir Arvi can be found in the Memorial Booklet. In addition, video proceedings of the event can be found at this link

Sir Arvi was our Patron from 2005 to 2015 and was very supportive of our efforts on a number of occassions. He was always positive and provided encouragement and advice to the Board on a number of issues. 

Sir Arvi was a genuine captain of Australian industry and his story from humble beginings is truly inspiring. Examples of other tributes can be found in this
article from the Australian Newspaper dated 2/5/2019 and this article from the Sydney Mining and Exploration Discussion Group.   

Puhka rahus!

April 2019

Results of the survey regarding the future of Estonian House are now available. Go here to obtain the results and here to view an interpretation of the data. The ERC Board would like to thank Annie Talve for the preparation of the survey using the "Surveymonkey" format, collation of the data and the initial interpretation.
The survey was carried out to assist the ERC Board in formulating its position on the future of Estonian House in Sydney and present its findings to a Forum to be held on 13th April, 2019.

The ERC Board was not able to come to a consensus regarding its position ahead of the Forum. It is likely that a review of this postion will be conducted after the Forum has been completed.

February 2019

Ahead of the General Forum to be held on the future of Sydney Estonian House at the End of March, the ERC has prepared and distributed a survey to its members, friends and colleagues, seeking input regarding their thoughts on the matter. This survey is found at the following link and we urge everyone who has had any involvement with Sydney Estonian House to complete and lodge the survey. It will only take a few minutes.

https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/ERC19

If you know people that wish to complete the survey but do not have access to the internet, a hard copy can be downloaded from here and then printed out for their benefit. Hard copies should be mailed to:

The Secretary
Estonian Relief Committee Limited
160 Michell Road,
THIRLMERE  NSW  2572
 
At the last ERC Board Meeting, it was decided to form a Finance Committee (FC) which would make recommendations to the Board regarding the mangement of the Company's exisiting funds.The objective is to maximise the return on funds so as to be able to distrubute more funding to a larger spread of qualifying organisations. Members of the FC include Mart Rampe, Kaili Ford and Hillar Raniko. 
  
January 2019
1 Summary of Recent Activities

This summary (which can be accessed here) captures the outcomes from the Annual General Meeting held at Tarra Gardens on 28th October, 2018 and includes commentary on:
  1. Re-election of Directors -  Mart Rampe, Dr Peeter Muttik, Maie Barrow, Ingrid Tartu, Hillar Raniko, Kaili Ford, Tony Moll and Dr Juho Looveer, 
  2. Outline of Financial position – our cash position increased to $853,742. Funding to the value of approximately $20,000 was provided to a number of Estonian focused organisations in Australia, 
  3. Collaborative effort with AESL – a draft Funds Management Agreement and Statement of Intent had been prepared and tabled to facilitate a collaborative effort between AESL and the ERC Limited (ERC), and 
  4. Sydney Estonian House – the ERC is a significant shareholder in the Estonian Hose Co-Operative Society Limited which owns Estonian House. The ERC is keen for the Co-op to move ahead with the “Future Options” process in regards to the future of Estonian House.  

2 The XXVIII Estonian Festival - Sydney
The ERC was a strong supporter of this festival which took place between 27th  and 31st December, 2018. Activities were carried out at a number of venues in Sydney, culminating in the New Year’s Eve Ball at the Ivy Ballroom in the Sydney CBD. It is understood that the Festival events were generally very well attended and received. Congratulations to Aet Madison and her team for organising the Festival – no mean feat!
 
3 Council of Estonian Societies in Australia (AESL)
The ERC sent three representatives to the Annual General Meeting of the AESL, held on 31/12/2018. One of the main topics for discussion was the proposal to form a collaborative arrangement between the ERC and AESL, whereby AESL would focus solely on its role as the Peak Estonian body in Australia and ERC focused its efforts on fundraising and distribution of funds to worthy Estonian cultural organisations located in Australia and that fell within the AESL umbrella. A pre-cursor to such an arrangement, is the incorporation of AESL  as a registered charitable body under Australian rules and regulations. It is now up to AESL to follow up on these discussions and advance a viable business plan to its member organisations (including the ERC) to vote upon.

4 Visit to Taara Gardens
During the 24th of January, members of the ERC Board had the pleasure of meeting with the new Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of RSL LifeCare, Ms Laurie Leigh. It was Laurie's first visit to Taara Gardens and she impressed us all with her relaxed but authorative style. Her credentials are impressive (check here) and we look forward to her and her team enhancing the Taara Gardens aged care experiance.
In addition, we were given a "tour de force" of the village by Jenny, who pointed out all of the significant improvements that have taken place since RSL LifeCare took over - see following photos. 

Since amalgamation, RSL LifeCare has invested:
  • $12.0m in the refurbishment and extension of Agris Hutrof House,
  • $3.9m in the redevelopment of the retirement village and units, and
  • $0.9m in furniture, vehicles, computers, plant and equipment
RSL LifeCare is also in the process of upgrading the HR system for employee self-service of leave and payslips and they are implementing an exciting program for staff/residents called AIM “All Interactions Matter”.
It is without doubt, a fantastic outcome for our folks at Taara Gardens!

It was also with great pleasure that the Board awarded Certificates of Life Membership to Krista Ford and Imbi Chad. Both Krista and Imbi were long serving and highly valuable directors of the ERC Board over many years and this Certificate recognises their selfless and voluntary service to our organisation over many decades. Sadly, another of our stalwart members and directors, Lea Holm, passed away just before Christmas. She too, was a highly valued member of the Board and will be missed. 

5 Activities for 2019
 
Looking ahead, we see the mooted collaboration between AESL and the ERC as the most important event for 2019. Should it proceed, it will have a dramatic impact on the way that the ERC operates in the future.
In the short term, the ERC will be preparing a submission to be presented at the upcoming forum on the future of the Sydney Estonian House.  

December 2018
CONGRATULATIONS TO KOOSK
ÖLAS CHOIR - YOU HAVE MADE IT TO LAULUPIDU 2019!!

Here are the details of a press release made on 26/11/2018.
The Kooskõlas choir has just passed the first audition to be accepted to sing at Laulupidu 2019 in Eesti. 
Kooskõlas is an Estonian choir from Australia,  with 74 singers from Sydney, Brisbane, Canberra, Melbourne, Adelaide, and regional NSW.    The choir is led by conductor Dr Naomi Cooper, a specialist in community choirs.
Laulupidu 2019 is the 150th year since this amazing event commenced.  Being celebrated in conjunction with Eesti’s 100th anniversary of Independence, this is a major event for Estonia.  When the previous NSW-based Kooskõlas attended Laulupidu in 2014, the massed choirs had over 34,000 singers, and an audience of over 100,000 people.
The acceptance at this stage was based on two specific songs – Emakeelelaul (Song of the Mother Tongue) and Kuulajale (For the Listener).  The choir still needs to learn another 13 songs and pass the second audition in April 2019 for the acceptance to be confirmed.
To assist the choir, Siim Selis, second in charge of Laulupidu 2019, is coming to Sydney for Eesti Päevad in December 2018, and to conduct workshops for the choir early January 2019.  This shows how seriously the choir is taking this project – many thanks to the ERC (Estonian Relief Committee / Eesti Abistamise Komittee) for their support for this project. Siim will also be working with choirs at Eesti Päevad, and later at the Sõrve camp for Estonian youth.
 


A scene from the last Laulupidu in Tallin.