SLOVENIAN ASSOCIATION MELBOURNE – Slovensko Društvo Melbourne
As the numbers of Slovenian Australians increased, the need for a Slovenian social organisation became evident. Small groups of Slovenians gathered in private homes to plan community outings, theatre productions, dances and newsletters.
A group of enthusiastic Slovenians established the first Slovenian organization in 1954 – Slovenian Club Melbourne. The first building to be used as a meeting place was purchased in Carlton in 1962. It was a base from which functions, dances and special celebrations were organised. Traditions, which the Slovenians brought with them, were revived and they were able to celebrate their culture together through drama, sport, poetry, song and dance. Later this club was moved to Eltham with the purchase of a larger property.
In November 1954 an informal meeting of Slovenians with a need to unite decided to establish an Association of Slovenians. On the 19th December 1954 the first general meeting of founding members was held in St. Albans.
There, many resolutions were accepted including the name – Slovenian Club Melbourne. This is the foundation upon which the pillars of strength were built resulting in what you see today. So it all began with the first official committee meeting, the first issue of the newsletter ‘Vestnik’, the establishment of a choir and seniors group with gatherings at various social and festive occasions. It was also the beginning of groundwork by the committee with regard to fundraising for the purchase of the Club’s first premises.
The participation in the Moomba parade and an exhibition at the Royal Melbourne Show were an important mark of assimilation by the Slovenians in the ‘new’ homeland. On the 1st May 1960, an agreement was signed to buy the Club’s first premises in Carlton. In August of 1960, enrolment of the first students for Slovenian school took place.
Following were these major events:
In the early 1970’s, the property in Carlton was sold and land in Research (our present location) purchased. A working committee was established, with fund raising done in earnest for construction of the current Club buildings to begin.
Throughout these years, continuation of many cultural programs, plays, sporting activities, the building of a new bocce alley, film nights as well as the establishment of the Ladies’ Auxiliary section was prominent.
Year after year the members sowed the seeds of love for the Slovenian language celebrating with rich cultural evenings.
Through many hardships but with humble and hardworking effort all was able to be achieved with much pride. It was during this time that the first Slovenian radio program was broadcasted; the establishment of a youth group and fundraising for national disasters in Australia and Slovenia.
In 1977 the Hunters and Fishermen section was established, a Vestnik Art Exhibition was held and in 1978, the official opening of the Slovenian Cultural and Sporting Centre in Research.
Other achievements that followed included:
The Club was filled with the fruits of love of many hard working voluntary members. The love of Slovenian culture continued to spread with song. Many activities continued to be held during these years.
Celebrations such as Mothers’ Day, Fathers’ Day, Bowlers and Hunters dances became annual events. In these times, various sporting competitions were organised, including chess, basketball, billiards, tennis and soccer. After thirty-five years, the second-born generations of Slovenians joined the committee, arranging activities like trivia nights, fund raising bike-athon, country and western nights and disco dances. A third generation was born with the parents forming a Playgroup, which the local community joined in too. People felt at home on the hill in Research.
The successes of nearly 60 years were built on rich cultural and social life. This witll continue with the next generation with support from the founding members.
As these years were passing, there was always a need for renovating and beautifying the Club’s premises. Many visitors flock to the continued celebrations of the association.
How beautiful it is to hear and see the Slovenian word, its songs, dancing and laughter.
Draga Gelt, Julija Čampelj and Magda Pišotek
Our first property, Slovenski Dom, was purchased in Carlton in 1960. In 1972 the land at Eltham was obtained. Plans were soon drawn up for future projects and work began on June 23 1974 under the meticulous supervision of Lojze Markič. Most of the work has been carried out by voluntary labour of our hardworking men at weekends. It was not unusual for up to 80 volunteers to turn up on any Sunday during the hectic seventies and early eighties. Jože Golenko was responsible for the purchase of building materials and the hiring of subcontractors when required. Over the years we managed to build and construct various projects at a fraction it would have cost, had it been necessary to pay for the labour of our experienced tradesmen and assistants.
We are extremely proud of all we have achieved, the highlight being the official opening in 1978. Many a memorable event followed over the years, with the 60th anniversary imminent.
Today we are still extending, renovating and maintaining and still depending on the labour of love.
Check out the Slovenian Association Melbourne timeline right here.
View the Chronicle of Slovenian Association Melbourne: GOLDEN HARVEST AND BEYOND by Draga Gelt
|Activities at the Slovenian Association Melbourne
Historical Events at SAM
For enlargement click on the photo