Federation of Netherlands Societies Ltd 50th anniversary story.
Already in the early nineteen fifties, regular meetings were held by representatives of various Dutch clubs at the house of the consul general to come to a kind of umbrella organisation which could deal at government level.
In1959 a first attempt was made to form a federation, but this was not very success full. It was not until the first of November 1967 that the Federation of Netherland societies was incorporated under the company’s act 1961 as a company by guarantee.
The articles of association were signed by the following clubs; Dutch Sunrise Choir (J v d Bosch, A. Scheerhoorn)
Dutch Folk dancing Association (T. Zirkzee, H. A. Zirkzee)
Netherlands Society in Sydney (A. F. Kool, R. van den Dobbelsteen)
Sydney Austral Ltd (G. C. O. Bealaerts, W. J. C. Vierboom)
The Carnival Society “The Boomerangs” (H. G. J. Schols, T. J. Vandermeel)
The Netherlands Society Bankstown (J. M. Cras, P. van Weelderen)
The Netherlands Society in the Sutherland Shire (F.Bangert, J.Logeman)
None of the inaugural societies are still in existence. The federation’s membership today stands at some 20 organizations.
The first elected chairman was Mr. Anton Kool.
In the early years the Federation organized some football matches between the clubs and tried to arrange a Federation agenda to prevent Clubs working in competition. The Federation began organizing “Orange Day’ parties in the City. And there were some St. Nick meetings. One at least when St Nick arrived by boat and rode his white horse to the Townhall for community celebration.
In 1970 The Netherlands Navy visited Sydney for the first time and came back in 1973 for the opening of the opera house. The Federation arranged several functions for the crew and most clubs invited crew members to their dance nights.
In 1971 The Sutherland Society began the first meetings to form a committee to build a village for the Aged. A. F. Kool was invited to join the committee to make sure that the clubs worked together. The Village would become “Juliana Village” which was opened in 1980.
In the mid nineteen seventies the federation started some Instuif Groups or coffee mornings in different parts of the city. These groups are run by volunteers who invite their fellow countrymen into their home for a coffee and a shat.
In 1976 A group of volunteers was formed to produce radio programmes for 2EA (Ethnic Australia) The group received assistance from the Federation with buying some equipment. The group was requested to report their actions to the Federation in order to give the clubs information on the progress of the group within the Australian Government Rules. In later years when the Radio became part of the SBS, representatives of the Federation were always asked to be part of selection committees when the radio group had to be restructured.
In 1978 The Australian government threatened to cancel the landing rights of KLM in Sydney and thanks to the actions of the Federation and its affiliated organizations the government changed their mind.
In 1981 at the initiative of the then Secretary Mr. Henk v.d. Weide the Federation created a special committee to arrange and operate a Festival. To be held on the last full weekend in February and called it “The N.S.W.HOLLAND FESTIVAL”. This committee operated completely independently, but the Federation had a representative on that committee. In 1984 a trade fair was added .The HF Committee also organized a Charity Queen Quest. The Federation created a special fund (The Netherlands Societies Benevolent Fund LTD) to receive the income from the quest. This to keep the finances completely separate from the day to day business of the Federation. The HF became a very successful annual event until 1997. From the first HF until the last SBS radio was present and broadcast life from the Holland Festival.
In 1985 The Federation formed a committee to study the need for a second Village for the aged. This resulted in the Opening of Abel Tasman Village in 1994. Loans provided by the The Netherlands Federation Benevolent Fund were of great assistance during the very difficult financial arrangements necessary to build the village. These loans have all been paid back.
In November 1987 the Federation began organizing Holidays for the elderly. It took place in holiday accommodation and was run by volunteers. In the first eighteen years two separate holidays were held to accommodate all the people. By 2005 it had reduced to one week. The cost per person was deliberately kept low for this not to be a hindrance. The Federation through the QWDABF supported the holidays financially. Sadly due to natural attrition these holidays had to be cancelled last year.
In 1988 Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands Visited Australia. The Federation was involved in preparation for the visit, and the Holland Festival committee organized a second Festival in November especially for that occasion. The Queen visited that festival and was greeted by thousands of people from Dutch background.
In 1995 in remembrance of the end of the Second World War a street party was organized. White bread and tulip bulbs were handed out. The party was attended by representative of the American, Canadian and Dutch Embassies. The band from the University of NSW regiment made the party a great success.
In 1996 The Federation assisted in organizing CACP packages reserved for people of Dutch background. After some years of operation the management of the CACP was combined with that of Abel Tasman Village. About this time also it was realised that the Netherlands Societies Benevolent Fund should be combined with the much older separate operating Queen Wilhelmina Benevolent Fund. The New Fund was named Queen Wilhelmina Dutch-Australian Benevolent Fund and still operates as an independent Fund through the Federation.