HELENA LEBER and SLOVENIAN CULTURE
"I arrived in Australia in 1958.
The need to communicate in the Slovenian language and listen to Slovenian songs was so great; I searched for Slovenian community involvement.
My first contact outside my family was in 1958, with family Hartman from Pascoe Vale and there I met a musician Stanko and his brother Franc, who introduced me to the Slovenian religious sphere and to the Slovenian Club Melbourne.
I enjoyed participating in theatre presentations, cultural evenings, multicultural festivals (Moomba, Good Neighbour Council Exhibitions and festivals).
A few years later, the members of the Slovenian Club started dreaming of expanding the surroundings of the original club in Carlton.
by Helena Leber
- In 1972 the very first Slovenian band toured Australia, participating at the Moomba Festival, entertaining Slovenian people, as well as Germans, Austrians. It was televised all over Australia.
- The selected group searched the Melbourne area for a new site for a larger home.
- I participated in the drama group as an actress; make up artist, prompter and costume advisor.
- I initiated monthly tea parties for the senior members with the assistance of Mici Hartman and others.
- I organized picnics and outings to Tasmania, Western Australia, Sydney, Brisbane, Adelaide and many other places, as well as to Slovenia, for senior Slovenians and friends
- We also started with the Christmas Carols celebrations, which included short poetry and story sessions. Father Christmas presented all the senior attendees with a small symbolic gift. We also started celebrations for seniors’ birthdays at every monthly meeting.
- The land of the current position of Slovenian Association Melbourne was purchased around 1973, and many volunteers built the building.
- The Slovenian language program was introduced to Radio 3ZZ, and later followed by 3EA. I was a broadcaster and coordinator for almost 20 years. Everything wasn’t always smooth, as we encountered opposing nationalities of the former Yugoslavia, and other individuals. The technical side of broadcasting was much more elementary and preparations were more complicated, demanding and long lasting. All this work was done voluntarily, without financial assistance or reimbursement of travelling costs.
- The 3EA Multilanguage program started with a small number of language groups (less than 10 nations were involved at the beginning and Slovenians were one group, and this caused displeasure among other Yugoslav nations). A Slovenian presenter, Ivo Leber became the timetable coordinator for all Yugoslav groups for a period of time.
- Art and Craft exhibitions followed at the Victorian market, as well as the Exhibition Building and later in other Australian towns, as well as in Italy, Slovenia and Austria.
- We (Stanko Prosenak and I) presented the 30th Anniversary of Slovenian Association Melbourne cultural program, announcing the performers and special effects.
- The social life at the club has continued and other Slovenian clubs were established in different parts of Melbourne and Geelong, as distance is a problem for members wanting to be involved with other Slovenians.
- Other broadcasters entered the scene and the name of Radio 3EA was changed to SBS Radio and TV and together with Ivo Leber we received a special Acknowledgement Plagues for the Long Service and Support to SBS Radio 3EA in 1992.
- I participated in establishing the Council of Slovenian Organisations of Victoria, was the Secretary and later joined the Slovenian National Council in 1990, to support the Independence movement of Slovenia.
- I initiated and established (together with Anica Markič, Kamica Satler, Elica Rizmal and others) the Slovenian Welfare Agency, Victoria, catering for the services of legal needs, land titles, inheritances, donors of blood and organ donation, when family history was not available. It was in operation for a few years.
- The reformed Welfare office was later taken over by the present administrator.
On May 17, 2008, on Helena's Birthday, a special event, a cultural day entitled THIS IS YOUR LIFE, HELENA, was presented in the hall of Slovenian Religious Centre in Melbourne. Helena's celebration was enriched by her family, Slovenian community representatives, huge audience and performers.
Scanning of photographs and PowerPoint presentation was prepared and shown by Draga Gelt, as well as most of the narrative text. Some text assistance and narrating was by Meta Lenarčič, who also arrange for for the presence of Helena's family, the guest speakers and the This is Your Life book and Award recognition.
Helena and her husband Ivo have received Radio 3EA plaques in Recognition of a Long Service and Support the SBS Radio 3EA in 1992.