Slovensko društvo Sydney


Towards the end of 1956, the idea to form an association to meet the social needs of all Slovenians in Sydney came to fruition. The idea also included ways of fulfilling the pressing need of establishing its own permanent base. Father Bernard Ambrožič had leased a house from the Franciscan Order. This was at 121 Queen St. Woollahra. In this house, a newly founded club, made its first home. A meeting was called on  12. Jan, 1957 to establish a steering committee. Present: M. Lajovic, L. Urbančič, Jože Čuješ,
M. Pleterski, J. Klemenčič, S. Rapotec, O. Turnšek, R. Mršnik, S. Fretze.The task of this steering committee was to organise a general meeting for all members of the Slovenian community in Sydney. At this meeting , to be held on 2nd Feb. 1957, the following people were elected into the steering committee: President, Milivoj Lajovic;  Vice President, Ivan Plesničar, and Simon Pevec; Secretaries, Ljenko Urbančič and Tončka Vodopivec; Treasurers, Janez Perko and Niko Krajc. The remaining committee members were: Milan Pleterski, Alojzij Kepa and Jože Renko. At this meeting the new club’s constitution was adopted.The main aim of this constitution was stated thus:



The  general elections resulted in the election of the following people:
Honorary president:    Father Bernard Ambrožič
President:                    Milivoj Lajovic
Vice Presidents:          Simon Pevc and Ivan Plesničar
Secretary:                    Ljenko Urbančič
Assistant Secretary:    Tončka Vodopivec
Treasurer:                    Janez Perko
Cultural Secretary:      Neva Rudolf
Caretaker:                    Milan Pleterski
Member:                      Alojzij Kepa

The Slovenian community also decided on a name for its club. It settled on  ‘The Slovene Association Sydney’. Thus begins, what can be referred to as ‘the first phase’ of the SDS.

In the initial years they created a club ‘home’, established a cultural section which ran a number of Sunday afternoon lectures and community events. In the main, these new club premises housed single, Slovenian men.
It was at this time that the idea was born to establish a legal entity, Slovene Dom Pty. Ltd. which would run the home and investigate its acquisition. The opinion was that by the end of June, 1958, when the current lease expired, negotiations would commence to purchase the property at  121 Queen St, Woollahra.

The club was to sponsor the purchase and provide the initial capital. Unfortunately, it was soon realised that the Woolahra property was unavailable for purchase, so instead a property was purchased at 7 Metropolitan Rd. Enmore.

Unfortunately, luck was not with the Slovenian community and the club was forced to sell the new club premises due to financial difficulties. From then on, meetings were held in private homes such as that of Vlasta Cergol, Lojze Kmetič and Tončka Vodopivec.

With the arrival of Father Odilo Hajnšek, the church hall at Paddington was made available to the Slovenian community, for drama and singing rehearsals.

From 1963 till 1969, Jože Čuješ was President of the association. Tončka Vodopivec  filled the position of Secretary for this period, whilst Vinko Ovijač filled the position of Treasurer from 1965 till 1968.
It was during these years that the club began establishing the tradition of celebrating certain annual celebrations. For example, Mother’s and Father’s Days; ‘Jožefovanje’; ‘Kurentovanje’; ‘Jurjevanje’ ‘Kresovanje’;  feast of St Nicholas; Boxing Day and New Year’s Eve. The club still celebrates most of these today.
In the year of 1963, we welcomed Father Valerijan Jenko amongst us. He undertook responsibility for providing spiritual guidance and set about establishing the Slovene Missionary Centre.

The Action Committee For A New Home- (Akcija Za Dom)

The forming of this committee in the July of 1964, was a significant event in the creation of a future for the club. The disappointments of the previous years, with the forced sale of the club’s premises had brought an end to the ambition of owning their own premises. Many thought it would never happen. However,  a group of visionary and motivated people resurrected the will to try again. A group of 7 people formed this action group. They were: Alfred Brežnik, Rudi Brežnik, Vinko Ovijač, S. Salobir, F. Novak, Jože Cetin and Virgilij Ferfolja. They formed a committee, which would work with them to amass funds for the purchase of new premises. From amongst the group were chosen three trustees for the funds collected. These were: Father Valerijan Jenko, Alfred Brežnik and Vinko Ovijač. At the end of its first year, the Action Committee published its first brochure – ‘Prvo Letno Poročilo’, containing the committee’s  Financial Statement.

Another such brochure was published the following year and the third and final brochure in July of 1967. By the end of the third year a total of $6681 dollars was collected.  The principles of this Action Committee were adopted by and become a part of the  Slovenian Association’s stated principles of constitution.
Finally, dreams became reality when a parcel of land was purchased on the 31st Oct., 1968. at 45 Ferrers Rd., Horsley Park. The trustees entered into a contract, on behalf of the association, to purchase the land for the sum of $ 16,600. This parcel of land had spectacular views that reached as far as Sydney Harbour. The credit of finding this land must go to Adolf Peršič, who had spent much of his personal time searching for it. The first main event organised on this land was Preseren’s Picnic or fair (Prešerni Piknik), in the summer of 1969. Starting with Mass, there followed sporting activities, a cultural program and dance.
The years that followed were prosperous for the Slovenian community.
….the committee however, was determined to build its own hall on the parcel of land. The plans for this hall were prepared by Ivan Žigon but they were never fully realised.
During this time there was some friction in the association and the committee. The trustees therefore called  an irregular meeting , which took place on the 26th July, 1970 at the Polish Hall in Canley Vale. The meeting did not settle matters, but resulted in more confusion and mistrust .  Five committee members resigned, including the President, Jože Čuješ. The break up or division did not only happen within the committee, but was evident in the community as well. From this point onwards Lojze Kmetič led as President.
And so, the Slovenian Association endorsed a new phase of its existence(we can refer to it as the second phase). The drive was  still there to establish its own completed premises.  Finally, the club was registered on the 16th August, 1971. The first AGM as a registered body took place on the 7th November, 1971.

Upon registration, the property was signed over to the association by the trustees. This brought to an end the role and responsibilities of these trustees.

The Building Of The Club


The first committee after the registration, as did all the ones that followed thereafter, worked extremely hard on tasks that were quite difficult. Even at the stage of seeking approval to build, they came across bureaucratic obstacles. It became clear that the parcel of land that had been bought at Horsley Park, was in fact, located within a green belt and was not zoned for any construction. This zoning was decreed by the State Zoning Authority. All attempts to find a loophole met with some success and permission was granted to build on the property. This loophole was to cost the Slovenian community dearly. Because the wheels of bureaucracy move slowly, the building was half finished by the time the authorities withdrew the building permit.
The building of the club was also hampered by lack of funds. The committee solved the problem by borrowing funds from a bank and borrowing from members on a ‘no interest’ basis. It then proceeded to furnish the premises , establish bowling lanes, swimming pool and parking areas. Members helped with funds, voluntary work and resources.

Moving to New Premises


This phase, the third for the SDS, can be noted as starting in 1985, a significant time for the association. The club was aware that it urgently needed to find a new location for its premises.
In December of 1984, Ivan Kozelj resigned from the Presidency and the position was filled by Štefan Šernek. The authorities offered a compensatory exchange for the land at Horsley Park. The new location for the club’s premises was established on the parcel of land at Elizabeth St., Wetherill Park. The club is on these premises today.
In August of 1986, the club received its compensation. Plans were made for the new building. An application for a building was lodged but because of bureaucratic red tape, the building did not commence until March, 1987. The foundations were blessed on this day by Father Valerijan Jenko with the assistance  of Father Ciril Bozic. The building proceeded at a fast rate to the extent that by 23.4.88 the almost completed building was blessed by the Toronto Archbishop, Dr. Alojz Ambrožič, with assistance from Fathers Valerijan and Ciril.
During the years that followed the club began to take on the look it has today.
We must acknowledge that the president of the time, Štefan Šernek, was extremely successful in finding volunteers and friends to help in the endeavours of building the new premises. The work was challenging but crowned with success. The names of all those who helped with this new building are enscribed on a board in recognition of their contribution, as is the Presidents Honour Board. Štefan Šernek presided as President for ten years and led committees that fostered years of prosperity.



The sporting and social activities of the club were also well supported by members during the final decades of the century. (These are described elsewhere in this book)
The club is enjoying a peaceful and socially successful period under the present leadership of  Mira Smrdel.

Information collated from the minutes of the club and the information contained in the Essay on “40 Years of Slovenians in Sydney” Lojze .Košorok…1997


Reunion 2009
Reunion 2007
HASA NSW 10 let
HASA NSW 10 let