Daugavas Vanagi - Melbourne

Soon after arriving in Australia from war torn Europe on 29th July 1949, 5 former Latvian legionaires form a branch of DV in Melbourne. They organize assistance to their colleagues left behind in in Germany. Melbourne branch is the second to be formed in Australia and in 1950/51 its management commitee also take on the duties of managing the organization in Australia.

From the begining there was a Ladies comitee which after 3 years becomes an independent Ladies Auxilary. During the first year 123 food parcels were sent to disabled veterans using only the income from concerts.

In 1951 the branch had 91 members and concentrated it efforts to assist coleagues and their families remaining in Europe. After 1954 and agreement with ALA the assistance and relief efforts were widened to include support for Latvian schools, Scouts and Guides and the repressed in Latvia and Siberia. The branch supports the building of the Latvian House in Melbourne. On 21 March 1954 there is a blessing cermony of the flag presented to the branch by the congregation of St. Johns. The newsletter "Vestnesis" starts distribution in 1952 and starting with 1986 "Ziņnesis". In 1978 there were 325 members.

Following a bequest In 1965 the branch acquire a country property "Vanagus" in Monbulk. An entertainment hall, swiming pool, sauna and a sporting field are built on the property. Memorial trees were planted and the complex becomes the favourite visiting and entertainment place. The property was sold in 1994 because the ageing of the members made the trip too long and difficult.

With the view of establishing a club In 1978 the branch acquires a property next to the Latvian House. With the help of members the property was put in order and updated. When finished there was a dispute with neighbours and the city council on the use of the property. As a result the branch was forced to sell the property in 1984.

In 1985 the branch acquire the present quarters in North Melbourne close to the City. After repairs and adaptation the building is opened in in 1990. That was a good choice and the building serves the members and the Latvian community up to the present day.

Members social requirements were well served by the following interest groups: Folk dancing groups “Daugavieshi” and “Sakta” later combined as “Daugavieshi-Sakta” 1950-84. Mens double quartet later ensemble “Kursa” from 1959. Youth group with interuption to 1993. Chess club 1083-89. Shooting club 1957-79. Card game Zolite club since 1983 and Novus club since 1992.

With the growth of activities the branch welfare work also expanded. In 1991 alone the branches welfare workers visited 77 compatriots on 315 occasions. In the last 5 years $152,000 was spent on welfare.

The branch was involved in national political work particularly in the 1980's. Members were informed on happenings in Latvia and in the USSR. The branch took part in anti Soviet demonstrations in Melbourne as well as Canberra.

Over the years 53 Melbourne branch members have been awarded the gold emblem for their efforts. In 2001 the Melbourne branch had 282 members.

There have been 19 Chairmen:
A.Lejinš, V.Runiks, A.Lauva, A.Bagun-Bērziņš, A.Bērztīs, A.Bilkens, J.Dzenis, V. Ķirps (5 years), V.Aufmanis, A.Rozenbergs, V.Rolavs (10 years), A.Kenne (7 years), B. Ērglis, F.Sala, J Bērziņš, A.Grimms, I.Kapelis(8 years), A.Saulitis(13 years), J.Kārkliņš

The Ladies Auxilary has had 15 Chairwomen :
E.Dizenbaka, A.Vērpele, M.Balandina, M.Bagun-Bērzina, A.Runika, A.Kārklina, E.Cābule (Pāvulina), M.Balode, E.Burkēviča, V.Liepina-Bērzina, E.Stuberovska, A.AIeksējeva, Dz.Cekulina, Dz.Grīnberga, S. Miglis.


©2014 Daugavas Vanagi * Updated 25 April 2014