Presentation of The Polish Community Council in Australia Inc. (The Council)

 

Prepared for: A meeting with Honorary Consuls of the Republic of Poland in Australia in Canberra

Organised by: His Excellency Mr Pawel Milewski, Ambassador of the Republic of Poland to Australia

Author: Malgorzata Kwiatkowska, member of the Executive Committee of The Polish Community Council in Australia Inc. www.polishcouncil.org.au

 

Content

  1. Brief history of the Polish Community Council in Australia (The Council)
  2. Objectives and Aims of the Council
  3. Authorities of the Council and election rules according to the Council’s Constitution
  4. Current Executive Committee Team
  5. Selected tasks for 2013 / 2014
  6. Achievements of the Council
  7. Challenges for the Council
  8. The Council’s expectations in relation to Honorary Consuls

 

1. Brief history of the Polish Community Council in Australia

 

In 1950 the majority of Polish organisations in Australia came to the conclusion that they needed a top entity that could speak on their behalf to the Australian Government and Polish Emigration authority in London.

 

As a result, the Federation of Polish Organisations in Australia (Rada Naczelna Polskich Organizacji w Australii) was formed in Sydney under the presidency of Mr Alfred Poninski (former Polish Ambassador in China).

Years

President

1950 - 1954

Mr Alfred Poninski

1954 - 1970

Gen. Juliusz Kleeberg (NSW)

1970 - 1974

Col. Andrzej Racieski (VIC)

1974 - 1977

Mr Eugeniusz Hardy (WA)

1977 - 1997

Mr Krzysztof Lancucki (VIC)

1997 - 1999

Mr Ryszard Majchrzak (ACT)

1999 - 2007

Dr Janusz Rygielski (QLD)

2007 - 2011

Mr Andrzej Alwast (ACT)

2011 - 2013

Dr Janusz Rygielski (QLD)

2013 - present

Mr Leszek Wikarjusz (QLD)

 

 

Years

Polish Community Council’s involvement

1951

  • The first AGM elected an Executive Committee, issued the first Bulletin (in English) and initiated the Polish Fund.

1956

  • Organisation of protests of Poles in Australia against policies of the communist regime in Poland after the Poznan Events.
    • Polish community in Melbourne hosted the Polish Olympic team.

1960’s

  • Coordination of secular preparations for the 1000 year anniversary of the formation of the Polish state and nation.
    • Celebration of the anniversary of the death of Tadeusz Kosciuszko.
    • Strong reaction to the events of March 1968 and invasion of Czechoslovakia.

1970

  • Organisation of protests and collection of funds for providing assistance to Polish citizens.

1974

  • Organisation of the Congress of Central-Eastern European Associations with the aim of determining joint social activism and a front for independence

1980 - 1999

  • Organisation and coordination of meaningful financial and material support for some institutions & organisations in Poland during the turbulent time of Solidarity and martial law.
  • Coordination of the collection of money and distribution to charitable organisations in Poland during serious floods (1997 and1999).

2000 - 2003

  • Main activity: ensuring the name of the Australian continent’s highest peak is maintained – Mt Kosciuszko.

2000 - present

  • Active participation in the international community of the Polish diaspora: Council representatives took part in preparations for merit-based conventions of Polish community organisations abroad in 2001, 2007 and 2012; co-chaired proceedings; presented summary reports; led the key topic sessions and participated in capturing final conclusions and outcomes.
  • Representatives of the Council were members of the Polonijna Rada Konsultacyjna before the marshall of the Senate of the Republic of Poland.
    • Active struggle for the reputation of Poland and Polish people, particularly in the form of intervention following derogatory publications and public appearances towards Poland and Poles.

 

2. Objectives and Aims of the Council

 

According to The Council constitution the objectives and aims shall be:

  • To represent the Polish community in Australia, defend its rights, promote its interests and provide support to Polish organisational activities within Australia.
  • To liaise and co-operate with people, institutions and organisations in Poland.
  • To promote the Polish language, traditions and culture in Australia.
  • To raise awareness of Poland, its culture, history and current position in Australian society by promoting Polish literature, music and all forms of the arts.
  • To co-operate with organisations from outside the Polish community in Australia and abroad, whose character is consistent with the ideological principles of the Council.
  • To promote loyalty to Australia within the Polish community.
  • To encourage and assist Australians of Polish origin to actively participate in all spheres of Australian political and social life.
  • To uphold Christian ethics and values in the Polish Australian community.
  • To support Polish youth developmental and educational activities.
  • To act as a forum for the development of Polish community activities in Australia.
  • To raise funds and establish permanent funds and foundations, and to make gifts, donations and loans for any purpose that is consistent with the aims of the Council.

 

Many of activities on behalf of the Polish community cannot be planned in advance.

The Executive Committee must respond to real events that shape our position in this country.

Sometimes an issue is so big and multilayered that it requires a number of responses, taking years to fully address.

 

3. Authorities of the Council and election rules according to the Council’s Constitution

Authorities of the Council and election rules:

The Congress of Delegates

The highest authority of the Council, meets once per year, between 1 April and 30 June (usually it is the second weekend in June).

The Executive Committee

Elected at the Congress of Delegates for a period of two years, creating one decision-making body for a period of two Congresses. Consists of:

The President of The Executive Committee and vice President , both elected individually

No fewer than seven and no more than nine ordinary members, including Secretary and Treasure

A representative of the Polish Clergy nominated by the Rector of the Polish Catholic Mission in Australia

A delegate of the Educational Commission of the Polish Community in AustraliaThe Internal Audit Committee (five member

The Internal Audit Committee (five members)

The Arbitration Committee (seven members)

 

Membership:

State Polish-Australian umbrella body comprising more than one organisation (usually they are called the “Federation”)

Individual organisation if the State has no umbrella organisation or an organisation has branches in more than one state (e.g. Quo Vadis)

Financial member of the Council as at the date of adoption changes to Constitution referring to Membership rules.

*President and vice President are elected 100% democratically. In the case of the remaining members of the Executive Council, the elected President suggests those people who are active community participants (in member organisations) and possess appropriate competencies. Some may function as part of the Secretariat working under the direction of the President (according to the statute, they reside in the same city as the President).

 

4. Current Executive Committee Team

 

The Executive Committee Members :

    • President:Mr Leszek Wikarjusz (QLD)
    • Vice President: Mr Tomasz Prokop (TAS)
    • Secretary: Ms Helena Andrusiewicz (QLD)
    • Treasurer: Ms Gosia Adamkiewicz (QLD)
    • Member: Mr Ryszard Chaustowski (SA)
    • Member: Ms Malgorzata Kwiatkowska (NSW)
    • Member: Mr Andrzej Strzemieńczyk-Golłowski (QLD), Website Administrator,
    • Member: Ms Ita Szymańska (QLD), Public Relations
    • Member: Dr Włodzimierz Wnuk (VIC)
    • Rector of the Polish Catholic Mission in Australia: Fr Wiesław Słowik SJ OAM
    • Delegate of the Educational Commission of the Polish Community in Australia: Ms Halina Szunejko (Western Australia).
    • Honorary Chairperson: Mr Krzysztof Lancucki (VIC), who held the position of President for 20 years
    • Honorary Chairperson: Dr Janusz Rygielski (NSW), who held the position of President for 10 years

 

The Internal Audit Committee: 5 members: 4 from Queensland, 1 from ACT; chairperson: Mr Marek Gierkowski (QLD)

 

The Arbitration Committee: 7 members, most of them from Victoria; chairperson: Mr Marian Pawlik (VIC)

 

Current members: 18 membership organisations, covering more than 100 organisations in total.

 

website: www.polishcouncil.org.au

 

All members of the Executive Committee have extensive experience in contributing to and participating in a range of matters within Polish organisations abroad.

 

5. Selected tasks for 2013 / 2014

 

Selected tasks that are in progress or newly identified

a) Continue work on the creation of a permanent PolArt Committee, whose function would be to fill the existing organisational gaps that form between festivals, and to raise the standard and quantity of Polish culture presented in Australia. Currently each new Committee starts from scratch every 3 years (since 1975).

b) Participate in the meeting of the Council of World Polonia in Poland (November 2013).

c) Organise an Economic Forum in Canberra in June 2014 consisting of all Polish organisations, including representatives of Polish Clubs and folkloric groups. The objective is to exchange commercial experiences and ideas, and initiate concrete activities that would improve the financial situation of these clubs and groups.

d) Issue the Bulletin of the Polish Hill River settlement in South Australia to encourage people to visit the museum.

e) Update the Council website with additional data and links, and maintain fully in both languages (English and Polish).

f) Establish a “Press Office” to issue a regular Information Bulletin and articles/statements where appropriate relating to political, cultural or economic events and anniversaries on behalf of the Council.

 

6. Achievements of the Council

 

Internal peace within the Polish environments in Australia

The Council does not represent all Polish organisations in Australia, but a significant majority. Some who do not belong to the Council run programs that diverge from the Council statute e.g. contesting the cooperation between the Council and democratically elected governments in Poland. Nonetheless, on the whole there remains an internal peace within the Polish environments.

 

A rejuvenation of the Executive Council and changes to the program

The aim of these changes is to attract new, youth-oriented organisations to the Council (Quo Vadis) as well as activating existing ones, especially PolArt.

 

 

Although the Polish Community Council in Australia does not comprise all organisations functioning within the Australian Polish Community, it is recognised by the Australian and Polish Governments as the appropriate body to represent our community.

Sometimes the Council is asked for opinions or to participate in certain Polish organisations’ , local, or State Government events.

The Executive Committee can initiate the process of awarding orders.

 

7. Challenges for the Council

 

Finance

Low budget, coming mostly from membership fees. We look for financial help by applying for grants and donations.

 

Skilled participation

We are looking to expand the group of advisers and participants in the Council’s agenda, outside of the Executive Committee, who are adequately skilled and motivated to advance the progress of our objectives.

 

PolArt

Creation of a permanent organising Committee for “PolArt” which should guarantee the successful continuation of this folkloric initiative in Australia.

 

8.Expectations in relation to Honorary Consuls

 

Direct line of communication

The Council would like to establish direct line of communication with each individual The Honorary Consul.

We appreciate our current relationship with the Polish Embassy in Canberra and the Polish Consulate in Sydney and we believe that a similar working relationship could be developed with Honorary Consul Generals in each individual State in the near future.

 

Openness for meetings, suggestions or any discussion in the future

The newly elected Executive Committee of the Council would like to reconfirm its openness and willingness towards future work, discussions and input with the aim of promoting Poland and the Polish Community in Australia.

 

Autorem poniższych zdjęć jest Pani Gosia Hill