read + discuss + vote

To be presented at AESL AGM, 26 January 2020 and voted on.

1. Proposed Organisational & Financial Arrangements between AESL and ERC

Proposed from the AESL Executive, MODEL 1 & MODEL 2 (Preferred) are based on the following points:

  1. ERC is a not-for-profit company limited by guarantee that promotes Estonian history, culture and language in Australia and has the skills, background and experience in providing funds management, fundraising, account management services for not-for-profit organisations. Its activities are governed by the Estonian Relief Committee Limited Constitution.
  2. AESL is an unincorporated association established as the national peak body representing Estonian community organisations in Australia and coordinate their activities. Its activities are governed by the Council of Estonian Societies in Australia Constitution.
  3. Any adopted proposal would entail changes in the respective organisation’s constitution.
  4. It is understood that ERC will be legally changing its name soon to possibly The Estonian Cultural Foundation in Australia Limited (ECFA). In the 2 proposals below, the ERC will be referred to as ECFA.

MODEL 1 – Basic Overview
  1. ECFA to manage the combined funds of AESL and ECFA – in professional manner and for the benefit of the entire Australian - Estonian community including fundraising, the distribution of grant funding to support certain undertakings and projects including Estonian festivals.
  2. The AESL would continue to be the peak national representative body for the Estonian community and represent Australian Estonians on the World Estonian Council.
  3. AESL would operate as a completely non-financial entity except for receiving a guaranteed money from ECFA for its own operating expenses and fully supporting Archives in an ongoing basis.
  4. ECFA employs a secretary on a part time basis to oversee financials, carry out fund raising and disseminate info as required.
  5. AESL council would continue to rotate on a 3-yearly cycle between the major capital city communities as it has in the past.

MODEL 2 – Basic Overview (PREFERRED)
Points 1, 2, 3 & 4 as per MODEL 1, plus the following:
  1. ECFA to have a new Board of 9 Directors elected very 3 years on the following basis:
    1. ECFA nominates 5 members
    2. AESL council would no longer rotate between the major capital city communities as before but have a single continuous representation from each of the 4 major cities of Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide on the ECFA board i.e. 4 AESL members on the ECFA board.
  2. The 4 AESL Board members would be nominated by their own respective communities.
  3. Regular monthly meetings would be conducted electronically / Skype / conference calls etc.
  4. All correspondence and information exchange be done through a new, commercial-standard, electronic framework / forum that employs all appropriate transparencies and security levels.

 

2. Proposed Changes to AESL Constitution

The following points are for proposed changes to the AESL constitution drafted by Tiiu Salasoo, Madis Alvre and Tiina Alvre

AESL 2005. a. põhikirja muudatuste tagapõhi The background for proposed changes to 2005 AESL Constitution
Kui AESL asutati peaaegu 70 aasta eest, kuulus suurem osa eestlasi Austraalias mõnda oma elukoha lähedasse eesti organisatsiooni. Ühenduses olemiseks ja oma tegevuse koordineerimiseks eesti organisatsioonid ühinesid organisatsioonide organisatsiooniks, Austraalia Eesti Seltside Liiduks. See on väga hästi töötanud, kuid nüüdseks näib liikmesorganisatsioonide liikmete arv ja aktiivsus suure kiirusega vähenevat, liikmesorganisatsioonid sulguvad ja nende arv kahaneb kiiresti, nii et mõnes Austraalia keskuses ei ole enam ühtegi eesti organisatsiooni. Samuti kahanevad annetused ja AES Liidu majanduslikud vahendid.

Et AESL jääks suuremat osa Austraalia eestlasi esindavaks ja neile asjakohaseks/oluliseks organisatsiooniks, on vaja muutusi. Selle sihiga on väike alakomitee hoolivaid vabatahtlikke: Madis Alvre, Tiina Alvre ja Tiiu Salasoo, töötanud järjekindlalt kogu eelneva aasta, et kohandada praegu kehtivat 2005.aasta põhikirja praeguse olukorraga sobivaks. Tulemus võib rahuldada eelmise peakoosoleku otsust inkorporeerimiseks.

Pakutud põhikiri 2020 on rajatud teatud põhimõtetele, millest ainult kahe (nr 1 ja 5) suhtes alakomitee liikmed on erinevatel arvamustel. Et võimaldada Liidu liikmetel valida põhimõtteid, millega nad nõustuvad, hääletatakse järgnevate põhimõtete üle ükshaaval enne kui terve põhikiri hääletusele läheb:
At the establishment of AESL nearly 70 years ago, most Estonians in Australia belonged to some Estonian organisation close to their place of abode. To remain in contact and to coordinate their activities the Estonian organisations united into AESL, an organisation of organisations. This has worked very well, but as by now the membership and activity of member-organisations seems to be reducing at a great speed, the member- organisations are closing down and their number is rapidly decreasing, with some Australian centres even having no Estonian organisation at all. Similarly are decreasing the donations and the financial resources of AESL.

For AESL to remain an organisation representative of and relevant to most Estonians in Australia, change is needed. To that end, a small sub-committee of concerned volunteers: Madis Alvre, Tiina Alvre and Tiiu Salasoo, has worked consistently for the past year to adjust the currently used constitution (from 2005) to fit the current situation. The results may meet the resolution for incorporation passed at the last annual general meeting.

The proposed constitution 2020 is based on certain principles, on only two of which (Nrs 1 and 5) the sub- committee’s opinion is divided. To allow AESL members to select which principles they agree with, the following principles will be separately voted on prior to voting for the proposed constitution in entirety:
  1. Muuta AESL kättesaadavamaks ja tõmmata kaasa organisatsiooniliselt tõhusat tööjõudu, laiendades liikmeskonda nii üksikisikute kui ka organisatsioonide suhtes (Tiiu Salasoo ettepanek; Alvred ei poolda üksikliikmete ideed)
  2. Sellise kohandamise mõju demokraatlikuna hoidmiseks, muutub hääletamine olenevaks liikmete arvust, s.t. liikmesorganisatsioonil on nii palju hääli, kui mitme eest on tasutud AES Liidu liikmemaksu, kuna liikmemaksu tasunud üksikliikmetel on üks hääl.
  3. Kooskõlas üksikliikmete vastuvõtmisega , aga samuti sobiv kui AES Liit jääb organisasioonide organisatsiooniks, tuleb AES Liidu nimi muuta Eestlaste Liit Austraalias (Estonian League in Australia), ELA mõlemas keeles.
  4. Asetada oma sihtide pearõhk praeguse kõige pakilisema üle Austraalia esineva vajaduse informatsiooni ja tõhusa eestlastevahelise kommunikatsiooni järele rahuldamisele, samal ajal säilitades ka praegused sihid.
  5. Ühenduses 4-ga, kui ka üldise teadlikkuse ja huvi suurendamiseks AES Liidu tegevuse vastu, laiendada AESLi juhatuse koosolekute protokollide ja otsuste levitamist kõigile liikmesorganisatsioonide liikmetele. (Tiiu Salasoo etttepanek; Alvred usuvad, et organisatsioonide esindaja/juhatus peaks levitama sobivat AESL informatsiooni liikmetele.)
  6. Püüdes hoida tervet Austraaliat esindavat liikmeskonda, laiendada geograafiliselt määritletud esindamist, nii et iga organisatsioon valib ühe või enam esindajat üldkoosolekutele, millest võtavad osa liikmesorganisatsioonide esindajad (liikmemaksu maksnud liikmete arvule vastavate häältega) ja liikmemaksu maksnud üksikliikmed (igaüks ühe häälega).
  7. Avardada üldkoosolekuid:
    1. lubades osavõttu ja loaga sõnavõttu kõigil huvitatud isikuil (hääletamine on lubatud vaid AESL liikmemakse maksnud liikmetel või nende esindajatel);
    2. vajaduse korral kasutada posti- või elektroonika teenuseid makse maksnud liikmete otsuste edasi andmiseks.
  8. Vähendada raskusi samas linnas kolmeks aastaks juhatuse liikmete leidmisel, kuid samaaegselt järjepidevust hoides:
    1. valides ainult pool juhatusest aasta peakoosolekul järgmiseks kaheks aastaks;
    2. lubades valida juhatuse liikmeid erinevatelt aladelt, lastes neil vajaduse korral posti või elektroonilisel teel võtta osa koosolekutest.
  1. To make AESL more accessible and to attract organisationally effective manpower by extending its membership to individuals, as well as organisations (Tiiu Salasoo’s proposal; Alvres do not support the concept of individual membership)
  2. To keep the effect of this adjustment democratic, voting for actions will be by membership numbers, i.e. a member organisation will have the number of votes corresponding to the number of its financial members (in terms of AESL membership fee), while individual financial members have one vote per person.
  3. Consistent with allowing admission of individuals to membership, but also appropriate for AESL to remain an organisation of organisations, the name of AESL will be changed to Estonian League in Australia (Eestlaste Liit Austraalias), ELA in both languages.
  4. To meet the current most urgent need for information and effective communication between Estonians all over Australia by placing the main emphasis in its aims on this, while retaining its current objectives.
  5. Related to 4, as well as to improve general awareness of and interest in AESL activities by extending the distribution of informative minutes of AESL meetings and decisions to all members of member-organisations (Tiiu Salasoo’s proposal; Alvres believe that each organisation’s Representstive/Committee should distribute relevant information from AESL to its members)
  6. While trying to keep membership Australia-wide, to broaden geographically determined representation by each member-organisation electing a/several representative/s to general meetings attended by the representatives (with the number of votes equalling the number of its financial members) and individual voting members (with their single votes).
  7. To open up general meetings by:
    1. permitting attendance by all interested persons, and speaking, with permission (voting, however, being restricted to financial members or their elected representatives);
    2. when needed, using postal/electronic means for decision-making by financial members.
  8. To relieve the difficulty in finding a three-year location for the Executive Committee, yet retaining continuity:
    1. by electing only half of the Executive Committee by the annual general meeting for the next two years;
    2. by permitting election of Executive Committee members from dispersed areas to use postal /electronic means for meetings, if necessary.

 

3. Options for Structure and Governance of Liit (AESL) from ERC/ECFA

From Dr Juho Looveer, Secretary, Estonian Relief Committee Ltd // Estonian Cultural Foundation of Australia

Framework to reform the model and operation of AESL In accordance with Model 3: Representational Model, ERC papers, December 2019
Why do we need an AESL?

  1. Represent and promote Estonian culture in Australia.
  2. To help and advise all affiliated organisations in their endeavours.
  3. To seek funding to maintain and grow these endeavours.
  4. Establish future goals to maintain and improve on-going cultural activities in Australia.
Background for Proposed Changes
  1. Currently AESL has no legal status because it is not a legal entity. Incorporation is essential for AESL to enter into legally binding arrangements, take out insurance cover, apply for grants etc.
  2. Currently the AESL Executive rotates between Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide every three years, with members of the Executive selected by the nominated Chairperson.
Proposed Changes
  1. The preferred model is ongoing national representation without rotation of location of the Executive. This will allow national focus and continuity for goal setting and future planning.
  2. Members of the AESL Executive are to be democratically elected from among members of member organisations
    • election could be held as adjunct to local Estonian Society AGM
    • maximally two members from each of NSW, Queensland, South Australia, Victoria; one from each of ACT/Northern Territory, Tasmania, Western Australia, ie maximum 11 members, minimum 7 or 9
    • members of Executive are responsible to the people who elected them
    • members report back from Executive meetings and discuss issues with local constituency
    • two-year tenure for Executive, one third or half of Executive up for election every year.
    • The objects and goals of AESL need to be reviewed and updated to meet current needs.
  3. AGM to be held annually. Executive meetings minimum six annually to be conducted via Skype or conference call.
  4. Duties of the Chairperson include but are not restricted to:
    • liaise with members
    • able to apply for funding from all relevant Australian and Estonian funding bodies
    • proactively represent Australian Estonian interests in all national and international dealings with community groups and government
  5. Basic IT skills are essential to all members of the Executive.
Process at AESL AGM 26/01/2020
  1. Accept Model 3, in principle, as preferred AESL structure.
  2. Ask delegates to return to constituents to elect one or two people from each state tasked with reviewing/finalising draft Constitution, using appropriate Model Rules as template and including relevant components of work done by Salasoo/Alvre.
  3. Validation and acceptance of new model/Constitution of AESL would be at December 2020 AGM (Melbourne EP).
  4. Once accepted at December 2020 AGM, a transitional AESL Executive of hand-picked capable individuals to be chosen at December 2020 AGM to operate for maximum 12 months to perform all requisite tasks for AESL including incorporation, establishment of meeting process/technology, ACNC status, banking etc, until election process detailed in Constitution is enacted.
  5. During the year, election of new Executive to take place, and once all positions are filled, the newly elected Executive is to carry out all its obligations in accordance with new Constitution.
Hillar Ranniko
January 2020

BACKGROUND

AESL / “Liit” (Australian Association of Estonian Organizations) was established in 1952, as an umbrella organization for Estonian organisations in Australia. The structure at the time agreed that Liit would convene as a group once each year, with matters in between being handled by the Liit Committee. This Committee would operate on a three-year rotational basis. i.e. based in Sydney for three years, then Melbourne for three years, then Adelaide for three years. This was quite sensible at the time, due to communication systems in those days. It also allowed for some continuity with the Committee remaining in one city for three years at a time. It also ensured that there would be, over time, a spread of management across the three main states and active cities in Australia.

Concerns have been raised in recent times as to whether this is an appropriate model any more in the 21st century. As the Committee passes from one city to another, much of the thinking gets lost as the personnel change.

Times have changed – we now have email, electronic conferencing options via phone, Skype, etc.

When the AESL Committee was based in Sydney from 2015-2017, work was progressed towards getting AESL incorporated. This issue was again raised at the AESL Annual General Meeting (AGM) held on 31 December 2018 in Sydney. The discussion also considered a restructure of AESL and possible changes. One suggested change was to combine activities and governance with the ERC (Estonian Relief Committee Ltd) in some way, to reduce workloads and the numbers of committees with overlapping functions. During discussion, it was proposed that these changes should be considered prior to the actual legal steps of incorporation or similar (e.g. becoming a Limited company). This AGM of 31 Dec 2018 also asked people & members to propose any changes, and these were to be sent to a committee comprising Dr Juho Looveer and Tiiu Salasoo. A notice to this effect was placed in Meie Kodu in January 2019, with responses due in March 2019. Unfortunately, no responses were received.

No further movement appears to have occurred during 2019 with regard to a restructure of AESL or merging activities with ERC, apart from some comments in AESL Minutes and emails circulating these. One such email suggested that perhaps AESL should fold as it is, handing over all responsibilities to ERC.

AESL membership has been in decline for some time, with most current members being from NSW. The viability of AESL is also in question, as it is due to move to Adelaide at the end of 2020.

The Estonian World Council (UEKN) has as its members the umbrella organisations of the bigger Estonian expatriate communities, ie Canada, USA, UK, Sweden , Germany, Australia and Russia, and the main Estonian societies in Latvia, Lithuania, Ukraine and the Czech Republic. Australia is one of the earliest members. The current Estonian government has formed a committee of representatives from Sweden, Canada, USA and UEKN as well as Estonian politicians and public servants. The aim of this committee is to enhance relations between Estonia and its expatriate communities. Questions to be resolved are, amongst others, the question of support for Estonian newspapers, Estonian Houses, and dual citizenship. However, to be part of this movement and to be eligible for funds, Australia must have an umbrella organisation that looks after the interests of the Estonian community in Australia in general, and hence needs a broad membership. Currently this project being pushed by Canada and Sweden but through UEKN Australia can also have input.
If AESL is abolished, that would leave Australian Estonians without a voice in expatriate affairs.

Hence, it is important to consider the structure and operations of AESL urgently, so that it can become an effective ongoing group that does represent the diaspora of Estonians and Estonian groups across the country. This MUST be done within a short time frame, e.g. discussions, decisions, planning, etc all to be done during 2020, and all necessary motions and changes to be enacted at the Annual General Meeting proposed for 31 December 2020.

To be effective, it is suggested that a working committee be established to consider, among other issues:
- Purpose of an overarching body
- Functions
- Liaison and sharing of responsibilities with other bodies (e.g. ERC)
- Proposed membership
- operations
- Proposals for structure, constitution/guidelines,
- Formal and legal issues to effect necessary changes

A discussion of some options for the structure of a future body are considered in the attached pages
PROPOSAL from ERC / ECFA:
That AESL form a Committee to consider the purpose, function and structure of the future AESL, and to review any previous work in this regard.
This Committee report back to AESL by 31 May 2020

ERC has some nominations for such a Committee , should this proposal be agreed to.

Dr Juho Looveer
Secretary, Estonian Relief Committee Ltd // Estonian Cultural Foundation of Australia
December 2019