Say “NO” to Eesti Maja Re-Development and “YES” to Unity with SELTS


by Hillar Ranniko, 21 September 2017

On Sunday 6th August,2017, Sydney Eesti Selts (SES) held an extraordinary general meeting to discuss with its members the merger proposal made by the Estonian Co-operative Society (Co-op). After some discussion, the overall conclusion was a unanimous “no” to the merger proposal.

The other item on the agenda was the consideration of the 3 future options for Eesti Maja, also proposed by the Co-op board. This was also discussed, with an overwhelming feeling of confusion as to how the 3 options came about.

After the meeting there were discussions about how the situation arose that the Co-op board had created the 3 options at all, without any consultation with SES or other Estonian groups & organisations. These include those that are regular users of Eesti Maja, such as the Archives, Virmalised, Lōke etc. Even its own shareholders were not consulted, so it would appear that the Co-op board alone has presumed what is the best future use of the Eesti Maja site.

Everyone knows that something must be done to improve the facilities at Eesti Maja. Leaving it “as is” is not an option. Eesti Maja needs to be able to carry out all its activities, and also be a friendly place where the Estonian community can meet, relax and have fun.

In order for this to happen, Eesti Maja needs to be renovated to meet the needs of the people that will be using it in the future, and to bring it into the 21st century. This should be achieved by creating a long-term Master Plan that will not only satisfy the needs of the Estonian community, but also include commercial spaces to generate much-needed income. This should all be done in consultation with the Estonian community.

By proposing the 3 options, the Co-op has managed to divide the Estonian community. We need for both the SES & Co-op to work together in an harmonious and respectful way, as both organisations serve the same people, namely the Sydney Estonian community.

On 24th September, 2017, the Co-op will be holding its AGM, where four directors are up for election. Four Co-op members, who have all had very long-term associations with Eesti Maja, will be offering themselves for election to the Co-op board. Madis Alvre and Arne Rahnel are currently members of the SES board, which should help to provide much needed co-operation between the two organisations. Hillar Ranniko is a builder who can provide construction advice, and Jaak Sildnik has had a lifelong connection with the Estonian community.

So if you are a Co-op shareholder make your vote count for “no re-development” and also for “unity with SES” by voting for Madis Alvre, Arne Rahnel, Hillar Ranniko & Jaak Sildnik.

The future is in your hands!