Estonian Relief Committee

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The objectives of the Estonian Relief Committee include:

  • The promotion of Estonian history and culture in Australia;
  • The teaching and promotion of literature, design, crafts, performing arts, radio, TV, moveable cultural heritage, music, community arts, video, visual arts, film, etc which is of Estonian origin;
  • The preservation and promotion of Estonian language skills;
  • The promotion and development of cultural relationships between Estonia and subsequent generations of Estonian descent, born in Australia;
  • To facilitate cultural exchanges between groups with similar objectives from Australia and Estonia; and
  • To consolidate and coordinate with like Australian organisations with cultural ties to Estonia.

One of the main aims of the ERC is to provide an organisation which facilitates the connection between a number of Australian based organisations that promote Estonian culture in Australia. The ERC also serves to support many of these organisations both financially and culturally. As a member of the ERC, you will (through this website and other events that we may organise), gain an appreciation of what is happening with your local Estonian organisation as well as track our own activities. Furthermore, you will be able to have a voice in how the ERC supports the community and bring needy causes to the attention of the Board.

The Estonian Relief Committee was constituted on the 22 July, 1945, when a group of well-meaning people of Estonian origin met in Sydney and formed a provisional committee to prepare a constitution for the proposed organisation. The constitution was then developed and the organisation was duly registered with the then NSW Chief Secretary's Department as a non-profit welfare agency.

The Committee was very active in its early years in assisting refugees of Estonian origin in war torn Europe with aid parcels, comprising mainly clothes, and later by facilitating the migration of many of these refugees to Australia. During the first ten years of its life, the Committee dispatched some 700 food parcels to refugees in post war Europe and arranged landing permits for 3500 prospective immigrants to Australia.

The concept of establishing an Estonian Retirement Village in the vicinity of Thirlmere some 100 km from Sydney, arose in the mid 1950's. At that time there were over 60 families of Estonian origin living in Thirlmere township and its surrounds. Many of these people were highly industrious and were making a good living from poultry farming. This was seen as a good support base for the proposed Village.

A 6 ha parcel of land located on Estonian Road, Thirlmere was purchased in 1957 and the first building, which provided accommodation for 10 people, was occupied in February, 1962. In 1999, the Village was comprised of 73 one and two bedroom units together with a hostel complex comprising of 39 beds. The two hostel facility also contained a respite room, nurse's accommodation and a small flat for the Manager. A multipurpose hall was completed in the grounds of the Village in 1997.

On the 15th of January, 2002, the organisation was incorporated as a company limited by guarantee under the New South Wales Corporation's Law. At this time, the Company had about 120 members.

As the years passed, it became increasingly difficult to maintain the facility due to high costs, funding becoming tighter and that scourge of modern times, "bureaucracy". An increasingly stricter regulatory framework for the Aged Care Industry meant that the Board at the time had to spend more time and effort to ensure compliance. For well meaning volunteers, this was a burden to great too carry by themselves. In 2011-12, the Board made a conscious decision to seek out a like-minded organisation with whom they could share the costs and responsibilities entailed in managing Taara Gardens.

By late 2012, the ERC completed a transaction with RSL LifeCare which saw Taara Gardens taken over in its entirety. It was the best decision ERC had ever made and guaranteed the future and well-being of all of its residents.

As part of the transaction, the ERC was left with a reasonable amount of cash funds and following its absorption of the Thirlmere Estonian Society - "Koit", these funds grew to approximately 0,000. It was then decided to amend its mode of operation with the objective of funding people or organisations that would promote future Estonian culture in Australia.

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We would like to take this opportunity to acknowledge Sir Arvi Parbo who was our Patron from 2005 to 2015. Sir Arvi was very supportive of our efforts and provided encouragement to the Board on a number of occasions. He looks forward to the ERC's new direction and staying in touch with the organisation.

We would like to acknowledge our past directors and committee members in the attached compilation.

The ERC welcomes support from its members, friends and associates who wish to promote and further the objectives of the ERC.

In the past, we have had significant contributions from a number of individuals and their families and we are proud to honour them on our website as follows:

Altosaar, Liidia Armolik, Hugo Austla, Flora Eltermaa, Adele Grossberg, Aleksa Grossberg, Peeter Hallap, Emmi Jõelaid, Marta Kadak, Peter Kaldma, Kristof Kaldma, Monica Karja-Nortots, Adele Kool-Oleksyn, Taimo L Kornfeldt, Elsie McElbing, Ivo Margus, Hilja Metsand, Johannes Mesila, Kalju Mihkelson, Hans Mitt, Hans Näripä, Anu Norrak, George Nõgis, Madis Olin, Rosalie E. Pass, Irene Peedo, Wilhelmine E. Penn, Martin Rammo, Liina Riidma, Linda Sarap, Oskar Seeger, Lully Sinivee, Alma Tamman, Martin Tarikas, Gustave Tilk, Juhan Toomingas, Erich Treisalt, Emile Tõnisson, Ludmilla Vilas, Elvine Villem, Karl Virm, Johannes Young, Carl

The ERC is currently in the process of applying to be entered on the Australian Government's Register of Cultural Organisations (ROCO). Should we be successful, it will enable donors to the ERC to claim a tax deduction, hence potentially attracting further support for the ERC's objectives. For the 2016 - 2017 financial year, funding has been provided to a number of organisations. A total of $ 16,300 was distributed to the organisations detailed below.

  1. Children's Estonian playgroup at Sydney Estonian House The Children's Estonian playgroup at the Sydney Estonian House intends to hire a professional Estonian language teacher or an Estonian Early Childhood Teacher. The objective of the playgroup is to offer higher quality teaching and better comprehension of the Estonian language to the children and at the same time, promote interest in continuing to speak Estonian within the English language environment.
  2. Brisbane Estonian Playschool The Estonian Playschool began on the 23rd of November 2013 with the objective of preserving and promoting the Estonian culture and language to the younger generation in Brisbane. The main focus of the funding is to be able to employ a qualified Estonian teacher during the week and Saturday mornings on a part time basis. In addition, the funding will assist in the maintenance of the existing Estonian language curriculum as well as promote Estonian crafts and culture.
  3. Sydney Estonian Parents and Friends Association "Sõrve So᷈brad" The Australian/Estonian community has been running Sõrve Summer Camp for more than 60 years and has established a fun-filled environment that offers an opportunity for those within Australia who have Estonian connections to come together, enrich their culture and share stories within a completely secure and safe facility in an atmospheric bush and lake setting. Funding is aimed at enhancing music and language appreciation at the Sõrve Summer Camp for 2017.
  4. Australian Estonian newspaper "Meie Kodu" The Australian Estonian Newspaper, "Meie Kodu", is a bi-weekly newspaper which is issued in print and electronic form to private subscribers across Australia and a few libraries, newspapers and private subscribers overseas. The newspaper carries news and articles from Australia and Estonia and in doing so satisfies a number of the objectives of the Estonian Relief Committee. Due to the relatively low number of subscribers in recent times, the organisation is seeking external financial support to remain viable. Funding has been provided for the 2016-17 financial year.
  5. Virmalised - Northern Lights Sydney Estonian Folk Dancers Virmalised is a troupe of dancers that have performed Estonian dance for a very long time.
Mart Rampe has been the Chairman of the ERC Limited for 11 years. His involvement with ERC Limited  commenced in 1973 when he worked as a student labourer on the construction of the Taara Gardens Hostel. Mart is a geologist, having completed a BSc (Applied Geology) from the University of NSW in 1973, and is a Member of the Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy (Chartered Professional), Mineral Industry Consultant's Association and a member of the Australasian Institute of Geoscientists. Since 1985 he has been the principal of the Harvest Group of companies which consult to the minerals and environmental industries. He has served on the Boards of several ASX listed and unlisted companies.
Krista Ford - Krista completed her secondary schooling at Picton High School and went on to gain qualifications as a maths and science teacher.  From 1969, she combined  her teaching skills with extensive world travel, including stints as translator in Holland for 4 years, a maths and science teacher in the United Arab Emirates  for 10 years, book keeping in Dallas, Texas for 12 years and then 4 years in China where she taught English to large multi-national corporate clients. Since her return to Australia in 1999, she has been actively involved as a carer and liaison for the elderly at Taara Gardens in Thirlmere and Queen Victoria Gardens in Picton and has been the Secretary of the ERC Board since 2000. 
Peeter Muttik  - has been a member of ERC Board since 2004 . He is also a long serving member of the Board of the Estonian Society of Sydney, Chairman of the Organising Committees for the 2005 and 2012 Eesti Paevad Australia-wide Estonian Festivals and is a past long-standing performing member of the Sydney Estonian Folk Dancing Group,  'Virmalised'.
On a professional level he is currently Chief Engineer, Solutions Group, Alstom Grid Australia Limited. He is a member of the Institution Of Engineers Australia (CP Eng (NPER),  Institute Of Electrical and Electronic Engineers,  Chairman of Standards Association of Australia Committee EL34 (Power Quality) and Member CIGRE Australian Panels B4 (HVDC and SVC) and C4 (Interference).
Lea Holm - Lea is typical of the post war immigration of Estonians to Australia. Arriving in Perth in 1948, she immediately began an extensive career in nursing, first at Royal Perth Hospital in Perth and then at John James Private Hospital in Canberra.
She has always been involved in Estonian communities wherever she has lived. For the 2000 Olympics, she acted as an Estonian interpreter and translator, focusing specifically in the medical field. As a result, she was granted NAATI accreditation in Estonian/English.
Lea was also appointed a Justice of the Peace in 1996 and has been a director on the ERC for 10 years.
Tony Moll - Tony has been on the Board of the ERC since 2003. As the owner and operator of his own construction company (Esto Projects), Tony was involved in the construction of numerous Self Care units and Hostel 2 at Taara Gardens in the 1990's and 2000's. His construction businesss has extensive experience in residential through to commercial developments.
Ingrid Tartu - Ingrid has been involved in the Estonian community for many years. In particular, she spent ten summers, caring for the children at Sorve camp as a Leader and the Sorve Nurse. This was followed by a governance role at Taara Gardens where for the past eight years, she has served as a director of the ERC Board. Her qualifications include: Registered Nurse (RAHC), Dip OHS (ASQC), Dip PM (ACPM), MN (UTAS), Clinical Fellow (JBI), Honor Society of Nursing- Sigma Theta Tau International (STTI) and currently, Doctorate of Health Candidate (UTAS).
Hillar Raniko - Hillar has always supported Estonian cultural activities & hopes to continue to do so well into the future. He has been a member and a director of the ERC for 9 years.
Hillar was a member of the Australian volleyball team for several years  which culminated in him representing Australia in the World Cup in Argentina in 1982.
Having moved to Sydney in the early 1980s, Hillar then established his own construction business and has been involved in the building industry for over 30 years. 

The Board wishes to acknowledge Imbi Chad and Tonis Kase who recently retired as Directors of the Board. In particular, the Board recognises Imbi's significant contribution during her time with the ERC, having been a Director since 1999 and serving both as Treasurer and Chairman.

The next Annual General Meeting of the ERC is to be held at Taara Gardens, THIRLMERE on Sunday, 16 October, 2016 commencing at 11.00am. The following documents can be downloaded by clicking on the highlighted word.

Notice of Meeting   
Chairmans Report  
ERC Accounts
Proxy Form

Estonian Relief Committee Limited
160 Michell Road
Thirlmere 2572 NSW

P: 02 4647 6177
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