Dennis Gaylard – Vice President
Paulius Kabaila – Secretary
Aurelija Sadauskienė – Treasurer
Mantas Galvičius – Co-opted Member
Monika Mack – Co-opted Member
The Lithuanian Community in Melbourne has existed for more than 60 years, but it wasn’t until 2003 that it became the Australian Lithuanian Community in Melbourne Association Incorporated and achieved legal status.
Incorporation required the development of Rules of Association that included management arrangements, decision making processes and organisational objectives. Those arrangements, processes and objectives remain unchanged today.
Members of the Management Committee are generally elected for two-year terms at the Annual General Meetings of the Community. Additional Members may be co-opted as the need arises.
The objectives of the Association, and therefore the role of the Committee, are to foster Lithuanian tradition, culture and language in the Community and to provide assistance to Lithuanian organisations operating within the Community.
As broad as those objectives are, it is important to note that they do not include managing the premises of Lithuanian House. That is the responsibility of the Melbourne Lithuanian Club. They are a separate organisation with separate membership. We acknowledge and appreciate the Club for the work they have done and continue to do to ensure that we have not just a house, but a home, for Community activities.
The Committee meets approximately monthly to coordinate events, manage correspondence and meet the Association’s statutory requirements.
This year, they have also been producing a monthly newsletter, Melburno Žinios, in the form of a digital and hardcopy magazine. The idea was born during a Committee meeting in late 2022 in response to feedback from Community members.
The newsletter includes information about upcoming events as well as those that have occurred (so that people who didn’t go can see what they missed out on), human interest stories, showcases for Community organisations and individuals, and celebrations of weddings, birthdays, anniversaries and lives well lived are all included.
The Melbourne Committee is happy to receive relevant and appropriate articles from Community members.
Membership and newsletter enquiries, articles for publication, or other matters for the Committee’s attention, can be emailed:
An annual digital subscription to Melburno Žinios is $60.00,
and a hardcopy subscription is $100.00.
Melbourne Lithuanian Community Executive Committee
– Kunigas Deveikis
Lithuanian Catholic Chaplaincy
– Tadas Adomavičius
MELBOURNE LITHUANIAN COMMUNITY
5 March (Sunday)
● Casimir’s Fair (Kaziuko mugė)
11 March (Saturday)
● Reinstatement of Independence Day (Kovo 11)
9 April (Sunday)
● Easter – Velykos
16 April (Sunday)
● Socialinės Globos AGM
21 May (Sunday)
● Šeimos Šventė
4 June (Sunday)
● Katalikių Moterų Draugijos AGM
18 June (Sunday)
● Gedulo ir Vilties Diena
○ Latvians and Estonians invited
23 June (Friday)
2 July (Sunday)
● Mindaugo Karūnavimo diena
30 July (Sunday)
● World Lirhuanian Day
13 August (Sunday)
● Katalikių Moterų Draugijos Žolinės
27 August (Sunday)
● Apylinkės Valdybos AGM
10 September (Sunday)
● Socialinės Globos Popietė
24 September (Sunday)
● Community Fair / Community Open Day
8 October (Sunday)
● Australijos Lietuvių Fondo AGM
22 October (Sunday)
● Melburno Lietuvių Klubo AGM
5 November (Sunday)
● Kalendoriaus Sudarymas
26 November (Sunday)
● Dainos Sambūrio Koncertas
10 December (Sunday)
● Kalėdinis Turgelis
24 December (Sunday)
Bonegila DP camp – c. 1949-50. At this time, the camp was left to the menfolk as women and children were sent away to Corowa during a pandemic scare.
Thornbury was the first “home” of our community
According to the Australian Census conducted early that year, there were 66 people of Lithuanian birth living in Victoria in 1947.
In December that year, the first ship load of Europeans displaced by World War II arrived at Station Pier in Port Melbourne. It carried 843 passengers, 439 of who were Lithuanians. From there they were sent by train to the Bonegilla Migrant Reception and Training Centre on the Victoria-NSW border.
These were the ‘Beautiful Balts’. Many more were to arrive over the next six or seven years.
In 1948, a Melbourne Branch of the Australian Lithuanian Society (ALS) was established. A steering committee of four members was elected to coordinate cultural activities and raise funds to support activities to re-establish Lithuanian independence from the Soviet Union.
Two more Reception and Training Centres were opened in 1949. One at Somers, on the Mornington Peninsula, and the other at Rushworth in Central Victoria.
Primary schools, Scout troops, music ensembles and dance groups were established in the camps and they were regularly visited by members of the Melbourne ALS, and sometimes by the Aidas choir from Melbourne.
Perhaps because of this outreach activity, many Lithuanians chose to settle in Melbourne when their labour contracts were completed and the community quickly grew.
In 1950, despite some misgivings, the 14 Branches of ALS voted to become a member of the World Lithuanian Community (Pasaulio Lietuvių Bendruomenė, PLB) and changed its name to the Australian Lithuanian Community to reflect that affiliation.
The Melbourne ALS became the Melbourne Lithuanian Community (MLB).
St. John’s was the principal venue for community activities during most of the 1950’s. Not only was a weekly Mass said in the Church, but the parish school was used for Lithuanian language classes.
Sunday Lunch was held in a parish hall and the choirs and dance groups rehearsed after lunch. Even the Scout groups had their meetings at St. John’s.
The parish halls were also the venue for community concerts, commemorative events, balls and parties.
By 1955, the Catholic Parish had raised enough money to purchase a house in Henry Street, Kensington, and Fr. Vaseris, the Parish Priest, moved in later that year. A timber building was constructed in the back yard to house the offices and printing press of the Catholic Newspaper, Teviškes Aidai, which the Priest edited, printed and published.
In 1957, a Lithuanian Club Committee of 15 people was formed, and on 11 December that year the Lithuanian Club in Melbourne (MLK) was entered onto the Register of Companies naming Dr. A Kabaila as Director.
The following year, the MLK purchased a large house in Francis Road, Thornbury, for community use. While that venue met most of the immediate needs of the community for meetings and rehearsals, there was limited opportunity to expand it to build a function hall for larger gatherings.
So the hunt for a more appropriate venue was on.
In 1965, the former Methodist Mission in Errol Street, North Melbourne, became available and on 11 October a sale contract was signed on behalf of the MLK.
It took a number of years to repair, renovate and extend the new Lithuanian House, with Jubilee Hall finally being completed in 1970.
By that time, the MLB and most of the community organisations had moved their meetings and rehearsals to North Melbourne, and Lithuanian House remains their home and the heart on community life in Melbourne to this day.
Baltutienė, D. M., Melburno Lietuvių Klubui: 50 Metų, ALF, Melbourne, 2016.
Popenhagen, L., Australian Lithuanians, UNSW Press, Sydney, 2012.
Renovations at North Melbourne c. 1960
Father Vasaris, Melbourne’s first priest, hard at work printing a community newspaper, “Teviškės Aidai” (Echoes of the Homeland) around 1960. It has been published bi-weekly ever since and sadly, has only recently been suspended (2023).
Melbourne’s first choir, Aidai, led by the charming conductor, Mr Čelna.
c. 1970s: Melbourne’s first class dance group “Klumpakojis”