Dear Estonians in Australia,
This year has been different, and hard on all.
We may feel uncertain and alone today, but by staying focused we will be able to resume. Hopefully while the world is paused, we take this time to think of better ways forward. We hope to resume stronger, with a better sense of community and its needs.

AESL is an umbrella organisation for Estonian societies in Australia. Being a uniting organisation, we are not visible as we do not organise events, but AESL is behind, and backing, our good initiatives in Australia. We want to see our Estonian heritage and culture, not only continue, but flourish. Some of the initiatives from AESL in 2020 were as follows.

Firstly, we invited Estonians and friends to join an e-newsletter. Please write your stories and thoughts, send photos to be published on This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. This new space for connecting has become especially important due to the corona virus isolation.

Second, during Easter, we published a piece that invited Estonian society leaders to embrace change, and to encourage finding new ways of engaging with members. New Estonians share information about Estonian businesses in Australia to support one another and interact. Society can be brought together in various ways, zoom or other similar platforms could be used to continue Estonian activities - while at distance, we can still be together. We are in touch with Estonia, and the same could be done here, whether it be children painting Easter eggs together on screen or catching up with the elderly. Musicians join in on screen these days, the same way could we keep our choirs going. Would it not be great to join on screen to sing Ema süda together on 2020 Mother’s Day, and to keep our mother tongue alive every day? While our Estonian Houses are closed, this is a good time to restructure how we reach out and how we could work in better ways.

Thirdly, there is a team dealing with AESL future directions – the organisational (how to) and the existential (who are we). While we are aware that the number of Estonians in Australia is over 10,000 and growing, Adelaide Estonian Society has 109 members, Brisbane 100, Melbourne 125, and Sydney 180. These are not big numbers. There is a serious question of being relevant.

This takes us back to basics. Let’s narrow it down.
While supporting new initiatives, we look at what currently works.
Eesti Paevad 2020 was half way through organising in Melbourne when postponed. We got a good understanding of the budget. Considering the need to keep culturally in touch with Estonia, a good music group, who would be the highlight to our own cultural activities and bring many people together, would cost airfares, hotels, music equipment hire, visas, totalling over $25,000. AESL had heritage from a very generous Estonian who left money for Eesti Päevad’s purpose specifically. $25,000 plus cut from this fund will be a big bite.

As I open today’s invitation to donate, let this past funding inspire us. I am inviting you to consider what AESL supports – Estonian Archives in Australia, Estonian language learning, Eesti Päevad festival, Sõrve Children’s Camp, this website - activities all over Australia, not the city level activities that are taken care by local Estonian organisations. Is there something that stands out for you?

Do you have a future direction in mind that you would like to support?
As we find our way through the organisational questions, as we find our way through corona, we are in a transition phase. When we exit, let’s be ready to move on better and stronger than before. Forces can be joined in different ways!

Please make your generous donation to the account of:
Council of Estonian Societies in Australia
Commonwealth Bank
062 233 / 1006 2870
Reference your name and state

Or send a cheque payable to:
Council of Estonian Societies in Australia
PO Box 6606
Melbourne VIC 3004
Attn: Ingrid Provan
Provide your name and state

Please remember that every donation, even a small amount, COUNTS.
Please remember that you can donate to the area of AESL direction that suits best to you.

Sirje Jõgi Rivers